A decrease of more than half for power outages in the Upper Pontiac in 2020 compared to 2019
Article published on 5 January 2021
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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 Hydro-Quebec network in 2020, compared to 103 in 2019. This number of outages represents the smallest number 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 during the winter, that is to say on January 26 with 245 minutes (or more than 8 hours of interruption). During last summer, a long blackout that had effects over two days, i.e. July 10 with 658 minutes and which continued on July 11 with 175 minutes represented more than 50% in the most recent year.

Power Outages in L’Isle-aux-Allumettes
YearNumber of outagesMinutes without power
2009 35 670
2010 34 184
2011 46 5699
2012 42 1294
2013 60 6629
2014 54 1411
2015 70 939
2016 75 4030
2017 58 784
2018 63 2802
2019 103 2675
2020 47 1618

Note that out of the 47 failures listed, three were planned, that is to say that the customers received an interruption notice before. Also, out of the 47 outages that occurred in 2020, 23 were short-lived outages, which are interruptions described as blink of an eye by David Gillespie. “These failures are very short-lived, one to three seconds. On the other hand, I calculate a minute because if you are a farmer or a business, you still have to restart certain devices after this kind of failure, ”explains David Gillespie.

For the first time since 2012, no breakdowns were recorded last May. On the other hand, all the other months recorded at least one outage. The month of June was the month with the greatest number of breakdowns with 8.

Power outages in L’Isle-aux-Allumettes
Year\MonthJanuaryFebruaryMarchAprilMayJuneJulyAugustSeptOctNovDec
2009 0 0 0 0 2 7 10 7 3 5 1 0
2010 0 0 0 0 3 4 10 9 2 3 3 0
2011 3 1 10 3 0 6 12 6 2 3 0 0
2012 2 0 4 2 0 6 11 7 0 2 0 8
2013 0 1 0 7 2 4 19 9 2 1 12 3
2014 2 1 1 6 6 17 5 4 6 5 1 0
2015 2 0 1 4 7 9 7 5 9 10 9 7
2016 4 2 5 0 3 22 8 12 12 0 6 1
2017 7 0 1 4 6 3 6 10 1 6 13 1
2018 0 0 2 6 7 8 14 2 9 4 5 6
2019 5 10 4 3 2 4 22 9 3 13 12 16
2020 4 2 1 4 0 8 7 5 7 2 4 3

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 last year, 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.

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 the 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.

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