Hydro advocacy committee continues pressure on Hydro Quebec

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Peter L. Smith

L’ISLE-AUX-ALLUMETTES – Over 90 ratepayers attended a
special hydro information meeting at the St. Joseph Centre for Families and Seniors, July 27, to receive an update on the current situation with Hydro Quebec.

Peter L. Smith

L’ISLE-AUX-ALLUMETTES – Over 90 ratepayers attended a
special hydro information meeting at the St. Joseph Centre for Families and Seniors, July 27, to receive an update on the current situation with Hydro Quebec.
L’Isle-aux-Allumettes Mayor Winston Sunstrum introduced members of the Hydro Advocacy Comm-ittee established by resolution during the regular Council meeting on July 5: Sunstrum, Councillor Roger Lavoie, Kevin Vickers, Wayne Wilson, Lucas Kaiser, David Gillespie (representing Pontiac U.P.A.), Roger St. Cyr, Brian Dubeau, and Helen McGuire.
Gillespie has been recording the outages for several years. A sheet detailing the number of outages, the date, and duration from January 2015 to June 30, 2016 was given to those attending. The data for the period shows a near record of one minute outages (66.6% of total), the third highest number of total minutes of outages (2,135), an average number of minutes per outage (59.3), and a record number of outages in a given month (22). The record number of outages in a year (70) was in 2015 and according to Gillespie, if this year’s trend continues, it will break all records.
A form was available for attendees to detail their individual problems with Hydro Quebec, including damages to equipmentor electronics, and estimated replacement costs.
Rate-payers were encouraged to complete the forms on paper or to send them online through Hydro Quebec’s website for complaints and claims. Completed forms can also be dropped off at the L’Isle-aux-Allumettes municipal office or at Epicerie Dubeau Grocery.
Wilson and Vickers detailed a brief history of Hydro in the region over the past 21 years. In 1995, Hydro Quebec rebuilt their distribution system, changing from a DELTA system (an underground two-wire system with 6900 volts) to a WYE system (a single phase, two-wire system at 14,440 volts and a three phase, four-wire system with a voltage of 25,000 phase to phase). However, this new system is more susceptible to vegetation interference. During this time, L’Isle-aux-Allumettes was also connected to the 44,000 volt lines on Highway 148 and Ontario’s entire power generating grid; this is also seen as a major part of the problem.
The L’Ise-aux-Allumettes distribution system is not connected to the Hydro Quebec grid (Fort-Coulonge generating system), but to the Waltham generating station owned by Brookfield Corporation. Since no voltage regulators are installed on the L’Isle-aux-Allumettes hydro system, there is a high probability of voltage surges.
“The municipality is working to attract new residents to the region, but these frequent hydro outages and the damages sustained as a result are not conducive to this effort,” stressed committee members.
Residents asked questions about different types of surge protectors, including ones that connect to a residence’s main breaker. Kevin Vickers stressed that most surge protectors will work during a regular hydro outage, but are sometimes not enough for major surges. Others stressed how dangerous the outages can be for individuals dealing with health problems needing a continuous supply of oxygen. Chris Judd,
a Clarendon farmer, mentioned the damage these outages may cause to refrigeration systems, which may not be evident immediately. Brief outages around 15 seconds are often the ones that cause the most damage.
The Committee will continue its pressure on Hydro Quebec and will keep the public informed.