Possible class action lawsuit against Hydro Quebec Municipality seeks legal advice

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Local resident Robert Lapierre detailed damage to his electronics as a result of hydro outages.

Peter L. Smith

L‘ISLE-AUX-ALLUMETTES – Council organized a special meeting, June 16 at the Harrington Community Centre, to discuss the area’s ongoing hydro


Local resident Robert Lapierre detailed damage to his electronics as a result of hydro outages.

Peter L. Smith

L‘ISLE-AUX-ALLUMETTES – Council organized a special meeting, June 16 at the Harrington Community Centre, to discuss the area’s ongoing hydro
outages and damages sustained by residents and businesses, most notably during the series of outages on June 12 which caused the most damage to date.
David Gillespie, a local farmer and member of the Pontiac UPA has been monitoring the Upper Pontiac’s hydro outages for several years; on June 8, he recorded 6,500 short outages within a 2.5 hour period. This year to date, there have been over 25 failures totalling 914 minutes, 16 of which were less than a minute in duration; the multiple outages on June 8 were only counted once in his records. 
Mayor Winston Sunstrum emphasized that both Pontiac MNA Andre Fortin and MP Will Amos were aware of the hydro situation, but due to other commitments, were unable to attend the public meeting. “Andre Fortin has been in contact with Hydro Quebec regarding our concerns, but there are no results, to date,” said Sunstrum.  Hydro was also invited to the meeting but responded by saying the notice was too short and that they would inform the municipality of their plans, but they had no desire to meet with their customers. Councillor Roger Lavoie suggested pursuing a
class action lawsuit; the municipality will seek legal advice on this option.
Sunstrum opened the floor to questions and invited ratepayers to detail damages sustained. Many residents mentioned losing surge protectors, electric heaters, satellite equipment and appliances. A spokesman for the River Club said they lost four air conditioning units to the June 12 outage and have yet to determine the cost of repairing a huge generator valued at $50,000; the repairs are estimated at around $20,000.
Local resident Wayne Wilson spoke on behalf of Wendelin Farms (owned by Lucas and Christina Kaiser) in L’Isle-aux-Allumettes. Over the past 8 years, the state-of-the-art dairy farm has suffered $100,000 in equipment damages and other
expenses due to hydro outages.
Wilson asked Council to support five recommendations: 1) Hydro solve the local outage problem immediately; 2) Hydro communicate their plan to correct the current outage problem including a tentative action timetable within six weeks; 3) Hydro reimburse all local ratepayers for damages caused by outages since 2009; 4) the municipality form a sub-committee, chaired by the Mayor and including ratepayers, to establish a legal process to allow ratepayers to withhold all or part of their monthly hydro bills in trust until the area receives reliable and uninterrupted hydro services, like the rest of Quebec; 5) Mayor Sunstrum chair another widely publicized public meeting within two months to report on progress and invite MNA Fortin and a senior Hydro Quebec decision maker to that meeting.
Council voted to approve all the suggestions; however, the suggestion
to withhold payment was approved for more
discussion and has not been undertaken yet.