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Bird causes region-wide power outage on Canada Day

More than 15,000 people across the Foothills were without power after a bird made contact with one of Fortis Alberta’s transformers near High River on July 1.

A power outage that hit communities across the Foothills on Canada Day was a “fowl” situation.

Fortis Alberta’s Alana Antonelli said a bird made contact with one of Fortis Alberta’s transformers a kilometre northwest of High River at around 8:30 a.m. on July 1, tripping an AltaLink transmission line.

“I heard from our field personnel that the reason the outage was so extensive was due to the fact that the bird contact occurred on a piece of equipment that feeds eight of our distribution circuits, or lines, out of High River, and further to that also impacted the transmission feed that supplies the area,” said Antonelli.

The customer experience and communications manager said the power outage impacted more than 15,000 customers in High River, Black Diamond, Turner Valley and the surrounding area.

“There are things that we can put on our system – bird diverters - but I’m not sure if there were any in that particular location,” she said. “I don’t recall having a large outage due to birds in the past, but that’s not to say there hasn’t been.”

Antonelli said the company received 200 calls from customers to its 310-WIRE number as a result of the outage, and that the company worked quickly to get the power restored.

“We rerouted the power on our own system to get folks on in chunks,” she said. “We had some of those customers back on at around 9:30 a.m. and more at around 10:45. By 11:05 a.m. all customers were restored.”

Homes, businesses and even traffic lights were impacted, prompting a reminder on a Black Diamond Facebook site that red flashing traffic lights means to stop and then proceed when safe, rather than continuing through the intersection.

The public can stay up-to-date on power outages in their area through Fortis Alberta’s outage map, said Antonelli, adding the company offers outage alerts on social media and through its website at

“We are fully committed to keeping the power safe and reliable for people,” she said. “There are times when things happen and it goes out. but we’re committed to getting the power back on as safely and quickly as we can.”

Tammy Rollie,


Tammy Rollie

About the Author: Tammy Rollie

Tammy Rollie is a staff reporter at and the Western Wheel newspaper, focusing on Wheel's West, local arts and culture and entertainment. For story tips contact
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