Reader Cam Bernard was just getting home last Wednesday when he saw something in the middle of the road. “When I walked towards the tree, a gentleman with his hazards on told me that live wires were on the ground and to stay at a safe distance.” He safely snapped the photo. CAM BERNARD

Power outages may not be more frequent, but they remain annoying

Anyone who has lived in Pelham for some time is probably familiar with the concept of power outages. Following a June 10 blackout in Fonthill, Mike Beaton’s letter to the editor this week carries a common refrain—the slightest breeze is sure to lead to a power outtage.

Fellow Fonthill resident Joan Eby has long lamented that it doesn’t even take a storm, but rather a bucket of water being thrown out the window to shut down power in Pelham.

“Given everything that’s happening in the world at the moment, it’s hardly what one would call a big issue, but seriously, what gives?” asks Beaton.

The truth is, either nobody knows, or the situation is not as bad as some believe.

Pelham has two hydro companies serving its residents and businesses. Hydro One covers most of the town’s rural areas, while Niagara Peninsula Energy (NPEI) operates the old Pelham Hydro system in downtown Fonthill.

NPEI said that both operators bear responsibility for outages this month.

“Looking at our outage data, [two] occurrences in June were attributed to Hydro One switch failures and the other one was due to the wind and rain which caused a large branch to take down hydro lines,” NPEI Vice-President of Communications, Marketing and Public Affairs Sue Forcier told the Voice.

“A wide range of complications can result in an electrical power outage. Environmental stressors like wind, rain which cause many forestry issues such as tree branches on lines, roadways have occurred recently in the Fonthill area.”

For their part, Hydro One stressed to the Voice that they don’t cover downtown Fonthill, but said they’ve had outages across the province due to volatile, humid weather.

“We are currently experiencing power outages across Ontario due to severe weather, including areas in southern and central Ontario,” Hydro One’s Alicia Sayers said. “Our crews are responding as quickly and as safely possible have restored power to more than 135,000 customers since the start of the storm that began [June 10].”

Ryan Cook, Pelham’s Manager of Public Works, said that NPEI could be better at restoring power after it goes out.

“Hydro One provides forestry services and line clearing, NPEI does not,” Cook said. “NPEI provides hydro at a far cheaper rate than Hydro One but [one] can probably argue that the service is not as good when it comes to restoring power.”

Reader David Horton reports that the storm blew over one of the old maple trees lining Balfour Street, in Fenwick, and “pulled down electrical lines on the other side of the road, adjacent to our farm.” Horton and young neighbour Jake Zwart survey the damage the next day. SUPPLIED

Pelham’s Regional Councillor Diana Huson told the Voice that while video-conferencing from home for the past two-plus months, she has noticed that she’s lost power more frequently than colleagues in other Niagara municipalities.

“It’s definitely worth investigating,” Huson said. “Not sure if we actually experience power outages more than other towns or just complain about it more.”

Mayor Marvin Junkin doesn’t think it’s any worse in Pelham that it used to be.

“I don’t think it happens more now than 20 years ago,” Junkin said. “Our power was out yesterday, but the high winds of Tuesday night very probably brought some tree limbs down on to the lines.”

Both NPEI and Hydro One accept outage reports and provide status updates on their respective websites—if your smartphone is charged enough to see them.