The number of power outages in the Upper Pontiac has dropped by more than half in 2020 compared to last year, according to statistics from L’Isle-aux-Allumettes farmer David Gillespie. Gillespie, who has kept the data on power outages up to date since 2009, reveals that 47 outages occurred on this network in 2020, compared to 103 in 2019. This represents the smallest number of outages since 2012.
The number of minutes without power for residents and businesses in the area has also decreased significantly compared to last year. A total of 1,618 minutes without power in 2020, compared to 2,675 in 2019 and 2,802 in 2018. Most of the accumulated minutes are concentrated over three days. A failure with a high number of minutes of interruption occurred on January 26 with 245 minutes (or more than 8 hours of interruption). Last summer, a long blackout that lasted over two days, on July 10 with 658 minutes and on July 11 with 175 minutes, represented more than 50% in the most recent year.
For more than a decade, farmers in the region as well as business people have complained about the number of power outages in this sector, causing delays and sometimes even equipment failure. Residents also claimed that household appliances had broken down due to the outages. During the record of more than 100 breakdowns listed in 2019, Hydro-Québec had reacted explaining that repairs on two “tether lines” had been carried out on this equipment which appeared to be defective. Hydro-Quebec also pointed out that the vegetation could explain part of the long blackouts. Hydro-Quebec had already indicated that it was monitoring the situation closely, in order to see the number of interruptions decrease in the Haut Pontiac.
A decrease, but is it enough?
The question remains, even if it is a decrease, is around 40 outages acceptable? David Gillespie believes that once a month could be acceptable. “Would we accept that about 40 blackouts occur in Montreal, Quebec, or not even very far from here in Aylmer? I do not think so, no. It is an improvement, but I think we are entitled to better. A dozen breakdowns per year, as a farmer, you could live with that,” says David Gillespie. The municipality of L’Isle-aux-Allumettes had already indicated in the past that it wanted to see progress on the part of Hydro-Quebec.