A loss of production during a maintenance operation at the Churchill Falls power plant in Labrador left nearly half a million homes without power on Tuesday noon. Just under 20,000 customers were still without power more than two and a half hours after the major outage began.

The outages are not concentrated in one place, affecting many neighborhoods. In Montreal, 140,000 homes were without power at the stroke of noon. A large part of Rosemont, Outremont, Griffintown and Côte-Saint-Luc, in particular, were plunged into darkness. On the South Shore, Longueuil, Brossard and Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu were hard hit. In the north of the island, several districts of Laval also posted outages, as well as Terrebonne.

In Quebec too, there were many breakdowns. In fact, one in five households in the capital was affected by a breakdown, that is to say nearly 88,000. The situation had however been restored there a little before 1 p.m.

In Quebec City, Economy Minister Pierre Fitzgibbon told La Presse that six turbine sets shut down in Churchill Falls, causing outages. “It has nothing to do with IT, or with a hacker. Hydro does not yet have the reason why the turbine groups have stopped. Power is being restored,” he said.

Jill Pitcher, porte-parole de Newfoundland 

“During a maintenance operation this afternoon, an issue at Churchill Falls resulted in a loss of supply affecting customers in Quebec. All units are back in service. The incident is under investigation,” she said in an email to La Presse.

Caroline Des Rosiers, spokesperson for Hydro-Québec, explains that it was a “drop in production” that hit the network around noon.

“There is an investigation going on. The protection mechanisms of the electricity transmission network reacted correctly, which resulted in outages. Currently, we are gradually recovering on the network. »

In a statement posted on Twitter, Hydro-Québec explains:

“The loss of production from certain turbine-generator units at the Churchill Falls generating station triggered protection mechanisms on our high-voltage transmission network, causing a power outage affecting approximately 490,000 customers across Quebec. Our teams are investigating the cause of this loss of production. We are already trying to restore service to affected customers by supplying them through other transmission lines. Please note that you do not have to report the breakdown via the Info-pannes service and that the deadlines estimated by Info-pannes are not applicable in a breakdown of this type since there is no question of work to be carried out here. on the distribution network. »

Ms. Des Rosiers notes that the event does not appear to have been caused by any malicious person(s).

“At the moment, there’s nothing pointing in that direction,” she said.

No time is given for the restoration of electricity service. The outages started around noon.

The outage comes less than a month after the major outages that affected southern Quebec in early April following an episode of freezing rain that, in many cases, lasted for days.