UPPER PONTIAC – With 63 power failures in 2018, the number of outages in the Upper Pontiac remained fairly stable, up only slightly from the 58 experienced in 2017. However, with those less than a minute in length only accounting for 36.5% of the total, compared to 55.2% in 2017, the total number of minutes of outages nearly quadrupled, from 784 minutes in 2017 to 2,802 last year.
“There was an enormous increase in the number of long outages; the average
length increased from 13.5 to 44.5 minutes from 2017 to 2018,” said Dave Gillespie, L’Isle-aux-Allumettes farmer who has tracked the outages since 2009.
Although a series of short outages can be annoying and cause significant strain on electronics and appliances, Gillespie said the longer ones are equally worrying, especially in extremely cold temperatures when many residents rely on electricity for their heat sources. This winter alone, there were six interruptions in December, five in January, and one that lasted about five hours in early February.
“Residents are worried and quite a few have been calling me,” said Gillespie, who emphasized he is just the messenger, adding that “Residents need to direct their complaints and concerns to their mayors, MNA André Fortin, and Hydro Québec.”
Gillespie uses an interesting method to record outages 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 able to tell when the power came back on and the time lag on the electric clock 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.
Two lines feeding the Upper Pontiac
Two lines, 221 and 224, feed the entire Upper Pontiac. Line 221 is synchronized with the Ontario grid and serves about 70% 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.
“Line 221 used to have a lot more outages in the past, many of short duration. But 2018 was a different story, with a lot less short failures and more long ones, which
also affected line 224,” explained Gillespie, estimating line 224 experienced about 90% of line 221’s total.
The most outages were recorded in 2015 (70) and 2016 (75), compared to 35 and 34 in 2009 and 2010 respectively. No follow-up meetings with Hydro Québec have been planned at this time.