L’ISLE-AUX-ALLUMETTES – 2019 seems to be a year for breaking records in L’Isle-aux-Allumettes with the extreme spring flooding and more recently the number of power outages that have plagued the area for a decade. “We have a new record for the year-to-date with 50 outages up until the end of July, the previous record being 44 in 2016,” said David Gillespie, a L’Isle-aux-Allumettes farmer who has been tracking the outages since 2009.
There were 22 outages in July alone, which ties the former one-month record experienced in June 2016. “If this trend continues, we’re headed toward breaking a new record at the year’s end,” he added. As of August 8, there were 53 failures in 2019, compared to 39 for the same period in 2018, for a total of 1,759 and 972
minutes of outages respectively. The average length of the failures is also longer, at 33.2 minutes in 2019 compared to 24.9 in 2018.
The most outages were recorded in 2015 (70) and 2016 (75), with 63 in 2018.
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 where Gillespie estimated it experienced about 90% of line 221’s total.
This trend is continuing in 2019. “I’ve heard from those served by line 224 that they are having a lot of outages. Same goes for those living in Waltham. Conclusion: it’s now a problem for the entire Upper Pontiac region and no longer just line 221,” Gillespie told the Journal.
Gillespie uses an interesting method to record outages even when he isn’t home with the help of his microwave and an old electric clock. The time resets on the microwave so he is can tell when the power came back on and the time lag on the electric clocks indicates how long the failure lasted. “Other people in the area also help me keep track, but I tend to catch most of them,” he said.
Gillespie intends to organize another meeting with Hydro Québec and
community leaders to discuss the issue this fall. A similar meeting was organized in 2016 which resulted in a short-term improvement after Hydro conducted mass brushing around the lines.