Yukon North Of Ordinary

News archive for April 6, 2010

Time passed more slowly over the Easter holiday

Homeowners left scratching their heads over lost time during the Easter weekend shouldn’t be alarmed – you’re not losing it.

By Chuck Tobin on April 6, 2010 at 2:28 pm


Photo by Whitehorse Star

Guy Morgan

Homeowners left scratching their heads over lost time during the Easter weekend shouldn’t be alarmed – you’re not losing it.

It was not the household electric clock, but rather the main control clock Yukon Energy uses to ensure power generation at the Whitehorse Rapids Dam isn’t too much or two little, Guy Morgan, lead hand for the system control centre, explained this morning.

Morgan said staff at the control centre synchronize the time between a sophisticated but regular electric wall clock fed by a dead-accurate satellite signal as a means of keeping power generation in check.

When the time on the two clocks drifts apart by more than five seconds or 10 either way, staff know there is either more power being generated than consumed, or not enough, he explained.

Morgan said if the electric clock gets ahead of the satellite clock, there’s too much power and generation is turned down, and if it falls behind, generation is turned up.

The control centre’s wall clock was running faster than the satellite clock over the last few days, so staff simply turned down generation as they normally do, without knowing there was an internal problem with their electric clock, he explained.

Morgan said when the generation was turned down, electric clocks that were plugged into the wall – alarm clocks, stove clocks, microwave clocks – all slowed down. The change was quite slow and unnoticeable until several minutes had been lost over a few days, he said.

Morgan said staff of the control centre finally figured out over the weekend there was an issue with their wall clock.

This particular management system, he said, has been in place since 1998 without any issues.

They’ve ordered a new wall clock, and are using an older one in its place in the meantime.

CommentsAdd a comment


Apr 6, 2010 at 3:42 pm

I don’t understand how the amount being generated has anything to do with what happens to household electronics.

It would make more sense if the plant was generating at 55Hz versus 60Hz as some electronics will use the line frequency rather than integrated oscillators to set clocks. 

Regardless, it shows YEC continues to be a bunch of bumbling oafs.


Apr 6, 2010 at 11:34 pm

Would this have any impact on lag on computer networks, I have noticed an increase in lag the last few days when playing online multiplayer games.

Joe C

Apr 7, 2010 at 7:14 am

I see Yukon Energy’s April Fool’s joke was a couple of days late.

Scott H

Apr 8, 2010 at 10:10 am

You know its funny…..people who have lived here for a long time can problaly remember that many years ago, there were at least 1-2 outages a week, yet these days that number has decreased.

The problem with North American’s is that we are all spoiled and have come to expect everything as a god given right! 

Our forefathers never had electricty, I WONDER WHAT THEY COMPLAINED ABOUT?

Dean W

Apr 8, 2010 at 3:40 pm

Careful, frequency control is not a trivial matter. 

Don’t think that it’s easy to run a power system, especially one that isn’t connected to the southern continental power grid!

Power systems are complex things.  Power flow is almost entirely related to FREQUENCY and nothing at all about VOLTAGE.  Not to say that voltage isn’t important.  Voltage imbalance affects reactive flows which are generally to be avoided.

They SHOULD have some kind of parallel systems checking each other, or even automatic control.  I suspect that they are looking into this now.

None of this is trivial to design or maintain, and it isn’t cheap. 

Maybe more folks from Whitehorse should sign up for Power Systems Engineering, then come up and help design & maintain the system?

francias pillman

Apr 8, 2010 at 5:14 pm

Hey scott, you make no sense. Do you enjoying for a service that is beyond reliable? I guess that’s ok with you. So do us a favor, go to superstore, load up a cart, pay for it, then just leave it in the store and go home. But reading your comment you probably work for yukon electric so logic dosent apply to you. Power is not a given right, but when people have to choose between power and food it is a GOD given right. Grow up.

Arn Anderson

Apr 8, 2010 at 6:57 pm

Maybe it was the squirrels and crows that caused that mishap.


Apr 9, 2010 at 10:16 am

Frequency fluctuations can be extremely destructive to all type of devices from home appliances to consumer electronics as well and industrial as commercial, communication and medical gear.  Potentially millions of dollars of gear has been fried by YEC brownouts, black outs and surges.  Now they are going the extra mile with frequency fluctuations.  As was noted above:  Bush League indeed.


Apr 10, 2010 at 12:42 pm

First just to point it out it was an accident, they were using a clock that had gone on the fritz, I fail to understand how they were deliberately (this is exactly what AJ is saying they are doing) playing with frequency when the equipment they had available to them told them to do something. Rather than point out the bad how about make suggestion to better things, IE suggest they use two or three clocks to be able to tell if one is on the fritz.

Also, Francias I can’t seem to make the connection between God given right and power, Please explain your statement, better yet proofread it then resend it with explanation.
Yes there was a time when Whitehorse received blackouts monthly if not weekly, get over it, we have not had any major blackouts in months now thanks to the increase in regular maintenance.

Just to be clear before I am called an employee of either electrical company I am a painter not an electrician.

francias pillman

Apr 13, 2010 at 12:58 am

And GOD said, let there be HYDRO, its in EXODUS somewhere. Verse:(Exo 4:20)

Kailey Irwin

Apr 13, 2010 at 1:28 pm

I think what YEC really needs to do is cancel the Mayo extension and invest in bringing the dam and all equipement up to code. Improve on what you have before you extend it.

But I guess if they do infact repair all the faulty equipement then they wouldn’t have anything to pass the blame too, and then where would we be? Back to the squirrels and the ravens…

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