Lakeland Power addresses Bracebridge power outages & phones Hydro One CEO to talk reliability

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Agatha Farmer

On Saturday July 11 Lakeland Power sent out a tweet informing Bracebridge residents that the town was experiencing yet another power outage "caused by loss of supply from Hydro One."

The tweet went on to state that Lakeland Power "will be working with Hydro One to come up with solutions to the frequency of the power outages."

Residents have taken to social media groups to voice their growing frustrations over the lack of reliable electricity in the region. Many households experienced and reported several power outages during this past weekend, prompting residents to also express concerns regarding surges and electronics damage.

Facebook user James Osler commented; "What’s going on with hydro. No wind and power is out."

Misty MacPherson: "This is getting a little ridiculous now!"

Kristin Hudasek said that in "40 plus years of living in Bracebridge, I don't ever remember the power being in this type of precarious situation. To say I am frustrated is being kind."

Bracebridge Mayor Graydon Smith chimed in to say that he is equally as frustrated for a variety of reasons.

"Keep in mind most outages save for small, localized ones occur due to interruptions in the supply from Hydro One. I believe this has been the main culpritover the last few days. Lakeland receives its feed from Hydro One, so when they go down, parts of Bracebridge can go down. Different parts of town are on different feeds. Not sure of the problem this week. It may have been the persistent heat or something else. I will endeavour to find out what it is/was," Smith wrote on a post.

He added that he has "met with the Minister of Energy about this issue before (winter 2019) and last summer Hydro One announced some system upgrades to make things better. Obviously whatever was or was not done, it is not better. I will be speaking with Hydro One directly on this matter as well."

Muskoka Post has reached out to Hydro One for comment as well as a timeline break down of the $16 Million which was to be invested over two years into Muskoka's 1950's grid to specifically reduce outages. At the time of publication of this article Hydro One had not yet responded. We will update this article when a comment is available.

Lakeland Power CEO Chris Litschko told Muskoka Post that he shares the customers concerns and frustrations with electricity reliability for Lakeland Power and throughout Parry Sound/Muskoka.

"For the most part the larger outages experienced by Lakeland Power (and its customers) are due to loss of supply by Hydro One. We receive our electricity from Hydro One’s Muskoka Transformer station in Utterson. This power carried at 44,000 volts to our town boundary travels through dense bush and terrain and is susceptible to many elements e.g. trees falling, wind, ice, storms, lightning etc.," he said, "Therefore, if Lakeland Power experiences a large outage it is most likely due to our loss of supply by Hydro One. If the outage is smaller in nature (one home to a couple of streets) then it is most likely that the outage occurred on Lakeland Power’s system."

On Saturday night Litschko said he contacted Hydro One’s CEO to voice his concerns regarding reliability supply to Lakeland Power to service customers. Litschko and his staff have made suggestions on how Hydro One might improve their service to Lakeland Power.

"Speaking on behalf of Lakeland Power, we are highly regulated by the Ontario Energy Board and are allowed to spend approximately $3M per year on improving our electrical system through capital upgrades, and another $2M on maintaining the system which includes a 6-year tree trimming cycle.

Last Friday Lakeland Power equipment sustained a direct lightning strike with damage that is still being repaired. Majority of outages are caused by trees of property owners (beyond the right-of-way we are allowed to trim) that come down due to storms, drought, etc. Please keep in mind that Muskoka is the most heavily treed area of Ontario.

I can assure you we are very frustrated with electrical reliability and are reviewing all of our data and plans to ensure future investments are made in the correct areas to improve service in Lakeland Power service areas," said Litschko.

Smith recommends that residents contact the Independent Electricity System Operator to voice frustrations. The IESO runs the grid and their phone number is 905-403-6900.

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