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Montréal, February 14, 2018

Hydro-Québec’s process with regard to planned service interruptions

Hydro-Québec takes the necessary steps to supply power to its customers at all times. Every year, Hydro-Québec does over 200,000 maintenance tasks on the grid—more than 185,000 while the lines are live, so customers do not lose service. But in the interests of worker and public safety, sometimes service must be interrupted while work is being done. Although scheduled interruptions may be inconvenient, they actually help reduce the number and frequency of outages.

Before a scheduled interruption, Hydro-Québec examines various aspects, such as the type of work to be done, technical constraints, how long it will take, safety and customers affected. There is never a good time for a planned interruption, but we make every effort to limit the impacts as much as possible, both in terms of length and the number of customers affected. Customers are informed of scheduled interruptions ahead of time. That way, they can plan around them and take any necessary measures.

Frequently asked questions

For the sake of efficiency and fairness to all customers, Hydro-Québec usually carries out maintenance and upgrade work during regular weekday business hours. This limits extra costs that would put upward pressure on rates for all customers. It’s a matter of good management.

Hydro-Québec also offers customers the option of having work done outside regular business hours, if they are willing to pay the additional costs. In such exceptional cases, the “user-pay” principle applies, so not all customers are penalized.

They receive automated phone calls. If there is no answer, a message is left on their voice mail or answering machine. If we can’t leave a message, we call back several times. Customers are contacted at least 24 hours ahead of any scheduled interruption. In addition, customers can always call 1 800 790-2424 to tell us about any situation in which an interruption might put their health in jeopardy.

Customers who use a lot of power are given two to seven days’ notice, depending on the type of business and the kind of impact the interruption will have on them. For example, medical clinics, grocery stores, hospitals and hotels are given 72 hours’ notice.

Hydro-Québec has an arrangement with school boards. We try to schedule interruptions on pedagogical days whenever possible.

There is no ideal time to interrupt service. We understand customers’ concerns. That’s why we notify all Hydro-Québec customers ahead of interruptions that affect them. That way, they can plan around them and take any necessary measures.

For the sake of efficiency and fairness to all customers, Hydro-Québec usually carries out maintenance and upgrade work during regular weekday business hours. This limits extra costs that would put upward pressure on rates for all customers. It’s a matter of good management.

First of all, every automated phone call about a scheduled interruption mentions a postponement date—in case of inclement weather, for example. The decision is usually made the same day that the work is supposed to be done. Second, if a storm causes an outage, for instance, the company gives priority to restoring service. In the vast majority of cases, the work is done on the originally scheduled date. It’s very rare that the work is not carried out on the postponement date (usually the next day).

As a general rule, there are three situations in which an interruption may have to be postponed:

  • The weather is bad. It’s a matter of safety for our workers and the public.
  • In exceptional cases, a technical problem on site forces us to reconsider our work methods. Again, this is often a matter of safety.
  • There are widespread outages that mobilize many of our crews. Our priority is to restore service.

We do the work at a time that has the least possible impact on customers. Interruptions are often postponed if it is too cold and the lack of service would put people who heat with electricity at risk. Every case is reviewed to avoid those risks. If service absolutely must be interrupted, Hydro-Québec gets in touch with municipal officials to ask them to offer support to affected residents.

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