Responding to lagging Upper Pontiac hydro UPA meets Hydro Quebec

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Allyson Beauregard


Allyson Beauregard

UPPER PONTIAC – In response to the frequent hydro outages in the Upper Pontiac area, l’Union des Producteurs Agricoles du Quebec (UPA), represented by Pontiac UPA President Denis Dubeau and Richard Maheu, President of the Outaouais-Laurentides UPA, met with officials from Hydro Quebec, January 15 in Gatineau, to discuss an appropriate response to the problem.
According to Dubeau, the meeting went well and Hydro Quebec is now
taking the problem more
seriously, partly due to the presence of a large milk producer in the area, Lucas Kaiser, who has been especially burdened by the frequent outages. “They were able to see the implications to Lucas’ operation from his perspective,” said Dave Gillespie, a UPA board member who has been documenting the outages since 2009. Gillespie attended the meeting to present his data.
According to Dubeau, the representatives from Hydro said vegetation is still a large part of the problem and they will proceed with brush clearing along one section of a road that was left untouched last year. They will also install a third automated relay, which draws power from elsewhere to feed an area when a section of line goes out. The relay is expected to cost about $75,000. Both actions will be completed in the spring.
Two lines, line 221 and 224, feed the entire Upper Pontiac. According to L’Isle-aux-Allumettes Mayor Winston Sunstrum, line 221 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. However, the two lines do not experience the same number of
outages. “There are a lot more outages on line 221. I believe it’s because this line is ‘synchronized’ with the Ontario grid,” said Sunstrum. According to Gillespie’s data, which is recorded for line 221, there have already been four outages this year. However, those served by line 224 haven’t experienced any.
Given that Kaiser, who receives his electricity from line 221, is located less than two kilometres from line 224, it has been proposed that he be switched to
line 224 to eliminate the
majority of the outages
he experiences. “Hydro Quebec won’t agree to bring him power from line 224. I assume cost in the reason,” explained Sunstrum, who added that having a substation located in L’Isle-aux-Allumettes would likely give the communities the same reliable service as
the rest of the Pontiac.  However, Hydro Quebec will not agree, again, likely due to the cost.