Allumettes hydro outages break 10-year record

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Added: Wed, 11/06/2019 - 11:01am
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Allyson Beauregard

L’ISLE-AUX-ALLUMETTES – With two months left in 2019, there has already been 86 power failures in the L’Isle-aux-Allumettes area, which exceeds the 75
experienced in 2016, the decade’s former top contender.
David Gillespie, a L’Isle-aux-Allumettes farmer, has been tracking the outages since 2009. If the decade’s monthly averages for November and December pan out, he estimates the total will reach around 94 by the end of the year. However, the total duration of the year’s outages was 4,030 minutes in 2016, compared to 2,445 thus far in 2019.
Two lines, 221 and 224, feed the entire Upper Pontiac. Line 221 is synchronized with the Ontario grid and serves about 80% of L’Isle-aux-Allumettes while line 224 serves Chichester, Sheenboro, the village of Chapeau, and a rural part of L’Isle-aux-Allumettes. Traditionally, line 221 (which Gillespie records) has experienced a lot more interruptions than line 224, but that wasn't the case in 2018 or 2019 where Gillespie estimated it experienced about 90% of line 221’s total.
“This is no longer just Chapeau’s problem; it’s affecting the entire Upper Pontiac. Can you imagine if Ottawa, Montreal or Gatineau had 86 outages in a year!? It just
wouldn’t happen, so why are we second class citizens?” said Gillespie.  
The most outages were recorded in 2015 (70) and 2016 (75), with 63 in 2018.
In an interview in September, Anna Rozanova, a media representative for Hydro Québec, said the company is aware of the higher-than average outages in the Upper Pontiac, and is committed to finding a solution. The problem, she noted, is that it has been very difficult to pinpoint the cause.
After the exceptionally bad month in July (22 failures), Rozanova said their
technician teams identified a problem with their equipment and repaired it in August, resulting in a drastic decrease in outages. She said technicians would be surveying the vegetation near the wires this fall to determine which areas are at risk of interfering with the equipment before trimming and removing potential threats. This work will continue into 2020.