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Preparing for possible power outages in Vaasa

Published: 1.12.2022

This winter, Finns are being advised to be prepared for power outages caused by a shortage of available power. Good preparation increases crisis resilience and makes everyday life easier. The City of Vaasa has mapped the effects of possible power outages on its service production and operations. The public water utility, Vaasan Vesi, and local electricity distributor, Vaasan Sähköverkko, have also made preparations and are providing instructions to their customers.

According to Finland’s transmission system operator, Fingrid, the exceptional situation in the energy market is due to the war in Ukraine, which is continuing to cause uncertainty in the availability of electricity. Finns should be prepared for power outages caused by a possible power shortage in the coming winter. On Fingrid’s website, you can monitor the status of the Finnish electricity grid in real time.

– At the moment, the situation is stable. But in winter, during long periods of windless sub-zero days, there may not be enough electricity production compared to consumption. This means there may be a need to limit electricity use if electricity production does not cover the electricity consumption. Fingrid makes the distribution limitation decisions nationwide. Local distribution company, Vaasan Sähköverkko, has plans for how electricity use can be reduced if necessary in its electrical network, says Vaasan Sähköverkko Oy network operations manager Petter Södergran.

The plans have taken into account the critical sites in different municipalities in case of possible interruptions. In the event of a power shortage, the length of the outages would be approximately 1–2 hours, after which the outage moves to the next area.

Vaasan Sähköverkko informs about outages in advance with an error message. In addition, the company communicates the matter on its website and the situation can be monitored on the disruption map at www.vaasansahkoverkko.fi (in Finnish and Swedish). The website also contains general information about the effects of power outages. You can find more information about disruption notices at www.vaasansahkoverkko.fi/palvelut/hairiotiedote-matkapuhelimeen/  (in Finnish and Swedish).

An electricity shortage can also occur suddenly, which means that no advance warning can be given.

Effects on city services

– In city services, we will minimise the effects and try to keep operations as normal as possible. However, we are preparing in our units for how we will operate if power outages have an impact on our services, says the Director of the Urban Environment Sector Markku Järvelä.

Pay attention to how water is used.

– The domestic water supply does not stop during power outages, but the water pressure may be affected. We request that consumers regulate their water use during outages and already about half an hour before the start of the outage, so that the wastewater flows do not burden the wastewater pumping stations, says Deputy Manager of Vaasan Vesi Jari Jantunen.

Vaasan Vesi has compiled information about the effects of power outages for its customers on its website https://www.vaasanvesi.fi/current

Street lighting is not on in areas with power outages. Some of the traffic lights also do not work during power outages. In this case, the rules of giving way in traffic according to traffic signs are followed.

–  It’s a good idea to allow a little more time for your commute if traffic lights are not working. It is also important to remember small school children, traffic safety and consideration of others when traffic lights are out of order, says the director of Public Utility Services Jukka Talvi.

In buildings managed by the city, special attention is paid to safety, such as locks, the use of lifts, and the functionality of the technology of the building even after outages.

The opening hours of some service points may change as a result of a power outage.

– Schools and daycare centres are open normally even during outages. Through Wilma, information about school operations and student safety is distributed in advance. Efforts are made to keep the offices of sports and cultural operators open despite the power outages. Those sports facilities of the schools that are affected by power cuts are closed during the power outages, says the Director of Education and Culture service, Christina Knookala.

The city’s electronic services and telephone exchange may be temporarily out of order.

After power outages, all functions may not be restored immediately, i.e. there may be a delay in opening the functions.

How can everyone prepare themselves?

Every citizen should be prepared for various disruption situations. Possible power outages are just one disruption that can happen in society. Households should be prepared to survive three days independently.

One of the most important ways is to obtain information in advance, to familiarise yourself with your own home in terms of various disturbances, and to reserve home supplies for your home. At workplaces, the effects of disruptions should be discussed and prepared in advance.

Vaasa residents can participate in the 72h trainings of the Finnish National Rescue Service Association. Trainings are organised from 14 December to 14 January. Information about the training courses can be found on the SPEK website.

You can read more about preparation and home security on the 72 hour website.

In addition, it is worth continuing to try and save electricity. The City of Vaasa is involved in the national ‘Down a degree’ campaign and saves electricity in many ways.