Upper Pontiac power outages

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Record low for Upper Pontiac power outages in 2023

Grace Richards

L’ISLE-AUX-ALLUMETTES – Since 2009, L’Isle-aux-Allumettes farmer David Gillespie has meticulously recorded power outages in the Upper Pontiac. Last year was a record low for the municipality, with only 26 outages. The most severe year on record, 2019, saw a staggering 103 outages.

In an interview with CHIP FM, Gillespie remarked, “It was the best year out of the 15 years of data I collected.”

A closer analysis reveals a substantial reduction in outage duration; a total of 874 minutes without power in 2023, a significant drop from the annual average of 2,300 minutes. “We’re almost one-third less, one-third the duration,” noted Gillespie.

Despite the progress, Gillespie recalled a significant outage on February 4, 2023, attributed to extreme weather. “It was minus 38 and windy, and we were out for days,” he recalled. The outage lasted five to six days and accounted for nearly half of the total outage minutes for the year.

Gillespie emphasized the challenges posed by prolonged outages during severe cold snaps and that traditional backup systems like generators aren’t sufficient to keep people safe during prolonged outages in Canada’s coldest months.

However, Gillespie acknowledged overall improvement in the reliability of the power grid, which he attributes to Hydro Quebec’s maintenance initiatives and equipment upgrades.

Gillespie reflected on his 15-year documentation effort. “It was only a few years after I moved here that I said, geez, there seems to be a lot of outages here. I better keep track of it,” he remarked.

Considering the downward trend in outages, Gillespie is optimistic. He envisions a future where the community only sees one outage a month, or twelve annually. Given the progress he has seen from 2019 to 2023, he believes the goal is achievable.

As 2024 unfolds, early data suggests promising trends, with no reported outages in January and February except for a storm-related incident on February 28.