(Montreal) Hydro-Quebec maintains its goal of reconnecting 800,000 customers by the end of the day, but 300,000 customers could remain in the cold and the dark for the weekend.
Two days after the ice storm, 500,000 customers had power restored, but there were still about 550,000 customers without power by 12:30 p.m. Friday. At the height of the crisis, more than a million subscribers to the state-owned company were plunged into darkness.
In Montreal, just under 295,000 subscribers were still without power Friday at 12:30 p.m. They were 71,000 in the same situation in Montérégie, 68,000 in Laval, 42,000 in the Laurentians and 47,000 in Outaouais.
Hydro-Québec is confident that it will be able to reconnect 800,000 customers by the end of the day, the Crown corporation announced at a press briefing on Friday.
Unfortunately, some customers will not have power until Sunday, maybe even Monday, warned the vice-president, operations and maintenance Régis Tellier.
A total of 1,400 fitters are deployed in the field to continue the reconnection operation. Gusts of 50 km/h to 75 km/h expected on Friday could, however, complicate their work and cause further breakdowns, he added.
Quebec’s energy network is reliable, assured the Minister of Economy, Innovation and Energy, Pierre Fitzgibbon, present at the press briefing.
In this case, it is the vegetation that is mainly at fault. “Hydro-Québec has doubled its investment in vegetation control. That’s the big problem: 40% of failures come from that,” he said.
During the day Thursday, more than 400,000 customers were therefore reconnected to the network by the approximately 1,100 people mobilized on the ground by Hydro-Québec, said the state company late Thursday evening on its Twitter account.
After being suspended for the night, reconnection efforts resumed early Friday morning for another 16-hour day. According to Hydro-Québec, 1,300 people will be on the ground to continue the work.
Due to the scale of the crisis, Hydro-Québec is unable to estimate when each household will be reconnected. However, it hopes to restore “a second third” of affected customers by late Friday evening, and then continue work “over the weekend to reconnect all customers.”
“It’s very reasonable to think that by midnight on Friday, we should have recovered close to 80% of the people who have been without electricity. Anyway, that’s what we’re dealing with,” Francis Labbé, a spokesperson for Hydro-Quebec, told La Presse Canadienne.
“If the mast is damaged, the correction must be made by a master electrician before our services are restored. It is very important that people make sure their mast is in good condition and not damaged so that we can restore the power,” explained Mr. Labbé.
Prime Minister François Legault will be on the ground with municipal and Hydro-Québec authorities in the early afternoon in Les Coteaux, Montérégie.
Quebec Energy Minister Pierre Fitzgibbon has planned to travel to Laval in the afternoon to “meet affected Laval residents” along with the minister responsible for the region Christopher Skeete and Mayor Stéphane Boyer.
An update on the situation in Laval is also scheduled for 2 p.m. In Montreal, authorities took stock at 11:45 a.m.
On Twitter, however, netizens have grown impatient, calling out to the state-owned company to find out when they will be reconnected. Known for their sometimes amusing formulas, the moderators of the Hydro-Québec account adopted a more solemn tone in the circumstances.
“We’re sorry if you’re still down. We are not forgetting anyone and the magnitude of the task is currently considerable. We are mobilizing all available and necessary resources to restore service,” the state-owned company said.
With The Canadian Press