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Snow storm knocks out power to 148,000 Hydro-Quebec customers

Nearly 119,000 Hydro-Quebec customers lost power early Monday morning. Most were in the Quebec City and Eastern Townships regions. LA PRESSE CANADIENNE/Paul Chiasson Nearly 119,000 Hydro-Quebec customers lost power early Monday morning. Most were in the Quebec City and Eastern Townships regions. LA PRESSE CANADIENNE/Paul Chiasson
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A weather system that dumped a significant amount of snow in several regions of Quebec on Monday morning caused several power outages across the province, with more than 150,000 Hydro-Québec customers plunged into darkness.

The two regions most affected by the blackouts were the Quebec City region and the Eastern Townships At around 10 a.m., more than 62,000 and almost 38,000 customers, respectively, were in the dark.

In Chaudière-Appalaches, nearly 9,900 customers were without power; in Mauricie, more than 5,600; and in the Centre-du-Québec region, more than 6,600.

Francis Labbé, a spokesman for the utility's public affairs department, explained that the five regions most affected by blackouts were those where snowfall was heaviest early in the day. The heavy snow fell on vegetation, causing tree branches to break off and fall on power lines.

In the afternoon, the situation seemed to stabilize, as the weather system moved further east. On the X social media platform, Hydro-Québec reported that the number of outages had fallen below the 80,000 mark - by 4 p.m., its toll had dropped to less than 60,000.

"The mobilization of our teams is therefore continuing in Quebec City, the Eastern Townships and Chaudière-Appalaches. Realistic restoration times will be entered manually as outages are taken over by a team, and the extent of the work is known," the state-owned company wrote in a message on X.

Hydro-Québec hopes to be able to restore service to most of its downed customers by the evening, but warned that more complex cases may have to wait until Tuesday.

Earlier this month, in presenting Hydro-Québec's Action Plan 2035, President and CEO Michael Sabia said the utility planned to invest between $90 and $110 billion over the next 12 years to increase its generating capacity and upgrade the capacity of its transmission system.

He added that between $45 and $50 billion should be used to ensure infrastructure reliability, which, according to the power supplier, would reduce the frequency of outages by 35 per cent over a seven to 10-year horizon. To provide better service, Hydro-Québec planned to deploy new equipment on the distribution network, such as composite poles and conductor protectors, and adopt practices such as light undergrounding of power lines.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published in French on Nov. 27, 2023.  

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