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The Hydro Ottawa network is still ‘relatively unstable’, warns the CEO

Written by Javed Iqbal

Hydro Ottawa’s CEO warns that “the grid is still relatively unstable” and risks future outages during strong wind storms, a month after a severe storm destroyed Ottawa’s hydropower infrastructure.

About 180,000 homes and businesses across Ottawa lost power, some for more than 10 days, after a crash with gusts of up to 180 km / h hit the capital on May 21.

Hydro Ottawa’s president and CEO, Bryce Conrad, told the city council on Wednesday morning that crews are proactively checking for trees and branches hanging over hydropower infrastructure, but the grid is still in danger of multiple interruptions each time strong winds blow into the capital.

“Every time there is a good gust of wind or a good gust of wind there will be more trees and branches, some of them are already weakened, they will just fall,” Conrad said. “It’s going to take a couple of weeks with strong winds before we get it out of our system.”

More than 15,000 customers in the western end of Ottawa lost power last Saturday after Hydro Ottawa lost power from the provincial network.

Conrad says Hydro Ottawa has the resources at its disposal to respond to any disruptions caused by felled trees and brushes while work continues to stabilize the grid.

Hydro Ottawa estimates that the storm damage and cleanup will cost about $ 30 million.


$ 10 billion to bury hydropiles, says Hydro Ottawa

There were calls to bury hydropower infrastructure after the storm on May 21 as a way to prevent future water outages.

However, Hydro Ottawa warns that it will cost $ 10 billion to bury all hydro infrastructure and take about 90 years.

“When major infrastructure work is being done, we bury the lines at the same time. Burial lines are hugely expensive. In new neighborhoods, of course, it’s built into the cost of housing and development,” Hydro Ottawa chairman Jim Durrell said.

“For us to go and bury the lines here in Ottawa and around the city, it would take about 90 years and would cost about $ 10 billion, and never be approved by the Ontario Energy Board in any case.

“The cost would make the cost of hydropower for all the people who call you all the time and are bored of the exorbitant and more, just would not make hydropower reasonable. If that storm showed us anything, it’s just how important our electrical system is. is at a reasonable cost to the public. “

The cost of burying the water pipes under Elgin Street during construction was $ 3.1 million.

Conrad says Hydro Ottawa is “happy” to discuss burying hydro pipelines as part of the construction.

“I’m not against burying the lines, I just can not afford to bury the lines,” Conrad said, noting that the municipality has a policy of paying to bury the lines.

Conrad says Hydro Ottawa is looking to see what can be done in key areas to prevent major disruptions.

“Are you looking at burying an important north-south infrastructure to provide you with the redundant supply. Maybe?” said Conrad.

“There’s a case to be made, and it’s something we want to look at.”

More than 400 hydropiles were damaged by the storm and repaired.

“Wooden poles are not the problem. A storm of that magnitude will always be a problem,” Durrell said.

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Javed Iqbal

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