Hydro One says it's half way through a $16M investment into Muskoka & working with Lakeland Power

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Agatha Farmer

Today, Hydro One and Lakeland Power announced that they are developing solutions to improve reliability for customers in the Bracebridge area. Hydro One will upgrade the power lines that serve Lakeland Power by increasing automation, line inspections and hazardous tree trimming to improve local power reliability. Hydro One is also proposing an alternate source of power to further reduce the frequency of power outages in the area.

Over the past couple of weeks, Lakeland Power has initiated high-level discussions with Hydro One to improve power reliability for Bracebridge.

“We are very encouraged that Hydro One has taken these reliability issues seriously. They are committed to improving and are working on proposals that will considerably improve hydro service,” explained Chris Litschko, CEO, Lakeland Power. “We now have momentum with a dedicated Hydro One team who are committed to finally resolving this issue.”

Muskoka Post reached out to Hydro One following numerous power outages in Bracebridge, the company said they "know that power outages cause a disruption for our customers, especially during this time when many are at home. We are aware of recent power outages in the Bracebridge and Muskoka area and are taking additional steps to ensure the community has access to safe and reliable power.

We are initiating an immediate patrol of the power line experiencing recent outages to address hazardous trees and identify the need for any additional repairs. We will also work with Lakeland Power to investigate an alternate solution to directly improve local reliability."

Hydro One added that "the majority of recent outages experienced by residents in Bracebridge and the surrounding area have been caused by severe weather. That weekend, weather in the region resulted in a momentary power outage caused by lightning and a 45-minute outage caused by a tree on the line. On June 9, we also saw a two-hour outage caused by a downed power line. Crews were able to restore power to Lakeland Power by rerouting power while completing the necessary repairs."

We also asked the company about the $16 million which was to be invested in the region. Hydro One says that "to date, we are halfway through the project’s completion and have installed 329 sensors in the Bracebridge and Huntsville region to better locate the cause of an outage, trimmed hazardous trees along approximately 1,000 kilometres of corridors, and installed 17 smart switches. These improvements have allowed crews to better determine the location and cause of an outage more efficiently and quickly. For example, on June 21, we experienced an outage impacting approximately 3,500 customers. By using these modernization tools, crews were able to restore power to customers approximately 4 hours earlier than they would have historically.

While these benefits are being felt in some regions within Muskoka, a number of these devices are scheduled to be installed on the lines serving Lakeland Power by the end of this year, with completion scheduled for winter 2021. We are committed to finding solutions to improve local reliability and modernize the grid."

Currently, Bracebridge receives its electricity from two – 44,000-volt power lines originating from the Muskoka Transformer Station in Utterson. The power lines traverse approximately 96 kilometers through rugged terrain and thick forest making them susceptible to the elements that cause power outages including fallen trees, heavy snow, high winds and lightning. The two electricity lines connect into Lakeland Power’s electricity system supplying the Bracebridge area.

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