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Upper Pontiac hydro outages declining in 2020

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Added: Wed, 07/15/2020 - 1:51pm
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Allyson Beauregard

UPPER PONTIAC – After breaking a ten-year record for hydro outages in 2019 (103), Upper Pontiac residents, particularly those in L’Isle-aux-Allumettes, seem to have been given a break for the first half of 2020.
“We are considerably below normal, but with a higher percentage of short outages (less than a minute), meaning of course a decrease in the total time of outages,” said David Gillespie, a L’Isle-aux-Allumettes farmer who has been tracking the outages since 2009.
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. Gillespie records data for line 221.
As of the end of June, line 221 experienced 19 outages since the beginning of the year compared to 26 for the same period in 2019. There have been 398 total minutes of failures so far in 2020 compared to 1,255 minutes for the same period in 2019 as well as an average of 20.9 minutes per outage in 2020 compared to 48.3 in 2019. There have been 13 outages of less than a minute in 2020, representing 68.4% compared to the 10 year average of 52.7%. 
Traditionally line 221 has experienced a lot more interruptions than line 224, but that wasn't the case in 2018 or 2019 where it experienced about 90% of line 221’s total. In 2020, Gillespie says the two lines’ failures are now comparable.
“We’ve had some long outages, but nothing exceptional, and compared to last year, where we basically lost power every three days, we’ll take it!” Gillespie told the Journal. There were 22 outages in July 2019 alone.
In 2019, Gillespie said he lost power essentially every time there was wind or storms. “We’d even have outages the day before storms, so I could basically forecast them,” he joked. “This year, we’ve had storms with hail and wind where we didn’t lose power,” he added, noting there was almost a two-month period in March and April with no failures, something unheard of until then. 
Hydro repaired equipment in August 2019 and has been doing brushing near the lines since last fall.
“The year isn’t over
yet, but providing nothing exceptional happens, I don’t think we’ll break records. If we finish with an average number of outages, that would be great, but compared to other areas, it’s still too high,” said Gillespie, noting areas like Montreal experience three or fewer failures per year.
“If we even had one a month, or 12 per year, in my mind, that would
be nothing to complain about and I might even stop recording data,” he concluded.