The Sept. 6, 2014 storm which brought down trees and flooded about 50 homes in Oil Springs prompted calls for improvements to Hydro One’s Wanstead Transformer. The company planned repairs by 2019 but now it tells MPP Bob Bailey repairs are beginning this year.
There’s some good news for Oil Springs residents who are sick of the lights going out.
Sarnia-Lambton MPP Bob Bailey says Hydro One will start improving the power system this year instead of 2019.
Since 2012 there have been 126 power interruptions in Central Lambton which can be traced back to the aging Wanstead Transformer station near Wyoming. Hydro One had recognized the problems and had upgrades scheduled for 2019.
After a major storm in September which left the region in the dark for hours and led to thousands of dollars in damage, Oil Springs Mayor Ian Veen was angered by the timeline and demanded something be done sooner. Oil Springs resident Owen Byers agreed and circulated a petition calling for immediate action.
It garnered nearly 1,000 signatures.
Bailey took that petition and contacted former member of the Ontario Legislature, Sandra Pupatello who is now the chair of the board of directors of Hydro One. “With a little direction from her and the board they could speed that up,” says Bailey. It seems to have worked.
A meeting between Bailey, Janice McMichael-Dennis of Bluewater Power and the main decision makers at Hydro One was recently held and the MPP says he’s pleased to see some action will be taken immediately.
And he says a long-term solution to make Central Lambton’s power reliable is also on the table.
“In 2015, Hydro One will begin addressing line circuits which cause the majority of the problems,” says Bailey.
And it’s asked Bluewater Power – it’s biggest customer at Wanstead – to help pay for a major upgrade. Bailey says Wanstead is a 115-kilovolt station while most others in the province are 220 KVs.
To upgrade Wanstead to the provincial standard will cost about $3 to $5 million he says adding its asked Bluewater Power to pay 35 per cent of that cost. The board of directors is considering the proposal now.
“The total investment when they do all of this will be over $30 million,” says Bailey. “It’s a big commitment.”
And he says it could open the door to new industry in the area. “When industry is looking to locate one of the big selling points they tell me is if you’re on the 220 kV station,” he says. “When the power goes out another line kicks in…so that you still have power.
“It’s important for you and I to have reliable power but to attract new industry to Petrolia, Oil Springs and Central Lambton would be a benefit.”
Bailey says he’s “quite happy” with the progress made saying much of the credit goes to Pupotello who got the ball rolling and the people who signed a petition calling for change.
Byers is pleased the petition helped. “It looks like we’re going to get some progress…it shows a few people can make a difference.”