(Montreal) Hydro-Quebec is maintaining its goal of reconnecting 800,000 customers by the end of the day, but hundreds of thousands of customers could remain without power over the weekend.
Two days after the ice storm, 500,000 customers regained power, but there were still nearly 230,000 customers without power, around 8:30 p.m. Friday. At the height of the crisis, more than a million subscribers to the state-owned company were plunged into darkness.
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.
“Tonight [Friday], about 80% of residences will be reconnected, and by tomorrow [Saturday], it will be 95%,” reassured Prime Minister François Legault, at a press briefing at Les Coteaux.
A total of 1,400 fitters are deployed in the field to continue the reconnection operation. The gusts blowing over the province on Friday could, however, complicate their work and cause further blackouts, he added.
A man lost his life in Saint-Joseph-Du-Lac after using a generator inside his garage. Firefighters estimated that there was “twenty times more” carbon dioxide in the air than the norm. In Montreal, more than 90 people have been assessed for carbon monoxide poisoning.
Heating or cooking appliances, such as a barbecue, should never be used indoors. “You really, really shouldn’t use this kind of equipment in the home. It can cause very serious health problems,” warns Simon Bilodeau, head of emergency measures at the Montreal Regional Public Health Department.
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, the state-owned company said late Thursday evening on its Twitter account.
After being suspended for the night, reconnection efforts resumed early Friday morning for another 16-hour day.
Due to the scale of the crisis and the gusts, Hydro-Québec is not able to estimate when each household will be reconnected.
Quebec’s energy network is reliable, assured the Minister of Economy, Innovation and Energy, Pierre Fitzgibbon, in a press briefing. It is the vegetation that is mainly to blame, not the network as such, he added.
“Hydro-Québec has doubled its investment in vegetation control. That’s the big deal: 40% of failures come from this,” Mr. Fitzgibbon argued.
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.
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.