Hydro One crews converge on Manitoulin

In and out of the bucket, the red seal linemen of Hydro One do what it takes to move the lines over to their new home high above Highway 6.

MANITOULIN – Many Islanders spent much of Saturday instinctively flicking switches in darkened rooms before remembering that Hydro One had scheduled a power outage on Saturday instead of the usual Sunday.

While the power was out, crews from across Northern Ontario converged upon the Highway 6 corridor from Espanola to Manitoulin and across the Island to undertake numerous important upgrades and pole replacements.

“I have around 15 members of my crew here and there are a lot of other crews out as well,” said Brendon Fenton, customer operations manager with Hydro One. Mr. Fenton was on hand at one of the sites where poles were being replaced.

Normally poles can last up to 30 years or more, the synthetic ones even longer, explained Mr. Fenton. “But there are a lot of factors involved that can change that, woodpeckers come to mind,” he said. “You could put a new wooden pole in place and the next day a big hole appears.”

“Hydro One proudly energizes life across the province,” said Alicia Sayers, communications spokesperson with Hydro One. “With much of the electricity system being built in the 1950s, we need to replace, repair and upgrade equipment in almost every community in order to continue delivering safe and reliable power.”

Ms. Sayers went on to explain that “during this weekend’s planned power outage, Hydro One had approximately 100 people, including local First Nations contractors, completing upgrades and scheduled maintenance to improve reliability across Manitoulin Island and the surrounding areas. Hydro One recently reaffirmed its commitment to investing in infrastructure and buying local to support the recovery of Ontario’s Indigenous economy.”

Hydro poles can last for decades, provided the pileated woodpecker doesn’t come to call.

To that end Hydro One brought in additional staff to the area and used more than 40 pieces of equipment, including off-road machinery and bucket trucks, to help complete as much local area work as possible during the planned power outage, continued Ms. Sayers. “This included the replacement of eight transmission structures and three wood poles along with the installation of two osprey nest platforms. Hydro One crews also completed forestry maintenance to keep trees and brush safe distances away from our equipment.”

In order to limit down time, much of the preparation work was completed beforehand.

As for the Saturday timeframe, Ms. Sayers said that “at times, equipment must be de-energized for our crews to safely complete upgrades and maintenance. We try to plan power outages when energy use is at its lowest which is often on a weekend. The planned power outage was scheduled for Saturday, October 24 to accommodate changes in the local weather forecast, in which case the outage would have been rescheduled to Sunday, October 25. Hydro One makes every attempt to notify those affected by planned power outages and we would like to thank our customers for their patience as crews completed this important work.”