News and Press Releases


Gatineau, September 14, 2023 – During a meeting with the community regarding essential public services, Hydro-Québec presented an update on service quality, including the actions designed to improve it. Since the major outage that affected the western portion of the MRC of Pontiac February 4 and 5, 2023, Hydro-Québec line workers have patrolled the lines that supply the sector. Following this exercise, several adjustments were made to the grid, maintenance and vegetation control efforts were carried out in 2023 and more are planned.

Hydro-Québec reminded those attending the meeting that the power system in the western portion of the MRC of Pontiac is unique in that it is synchronized with Ontario’s system. If necessary, it can also be synchronized with and supplied by the Québec system. In both cases, Hydro-Québec uses the energy it buys from Waltham and Chutes-Coulonge generating stations—both owned by Evolugen—to supply much of the electricity distributed to its customers.

According to the study conducted by Hydro-Québec, the MRC of Pontiac was affected by several power outages in the past year. On average, the MRC customers experienced 40,2 interruption hours in 2022 and 80,5 hours since the beginning of 2023. However, some municipalities were unfortunately without power for more than 100 hours.

A number of weather events in 2022–2023 put Hydro-Québec’s province-wide power grid to the test, and the MRC of Pontiac was no exception. The derecho (May 21, 2022), strong wind gusts (July 21, 2022), a major winter storm (December 23, 2022), an ice storm (April 5, 2023) as well as strong winds and heavy rain (July 11 and 28 and August 3, 2023) all had an impact on service quality. The increased frequency of violent weather events caused significant damage to Hydro-Québec equipment and also further weakened the vegetation, which is responsible for 40% to 70% of the service interruptions our customers experience. The weakened trees and branches come into contact with the power grid, triggering short- and long-term outages.

Collaboration with the public
Extensive vegetation management efforts were carried out to clear the power grid in the MRC. In 2023 alone, major work was undertaken on the lines that supply L’Isle-aux-Allumettes, Chichester, Sheenborro, Waltham, Mansfield-et-Pontefract and Fort-Coulonge and other work is planned for 2024. Hydro-Québec raised an important issue with residents, i.e., that of obtaining the consent of landowners with regard to having vegetation management work carried out on their land. In collaboration with the municipalities, Hydro-Québec will conduct an awareness campaign to explain why the work is important for service quality and for the community as a whole.

Action plan
Hydro-Québec relied on a three-pronged approach in the short term to ensure sufficient grid redundancy, maintain the system’s robustness and reduce outage duration. First, a procedure was designed to supply the Upper Pontiac using the Québec system in the event of a disturbance on the Ontario system. The trip thresholds of several breakers had to be optimized as part of this approach. The procedure was finetuned in 2023 to make it more reliable and to restore service more quickly for customers during outages. Second, Hydro-Québec established a connecting link that allows power to be added via generators dispatched to the site, if necessary. Finally, a complete analysis of the consumer load distribution between phases in the power system (balancing) was carried out and modifications are currently underway. In parallel, Hydro-Québec is also studying various medium- and long-term scenarios that require major investments.

“We have committed to working in step with the mayors and the Prefect of the Pontiac MRC and to continuing our efforts to improve service quality. I would also like to applaud the initiative taken by Corey Spence, the Mayor of L’Isle-aux-Allumettes, for organizing this public information session,” concluded Alain Paquette, Advisor – Community Relations with Hydro-Québec.

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