Surge protection recommended for ‘sensitive’ electrical equipment

By Karen Fallon

Although there to initially provide the shareholders report to council Ray Tracey, President & CEO Essex Power, came under fire regarding the frequency of power outages experienced by the town.

“Amherstburg outages tend to be a challenge for us,” said Tracey. “We were having more success on the number of sustained outages, but the duration of the outages have increased.”

Momentary outages which last for just a few seconds result in having to re-set a number of home appliances which is seen as a “a nuisance” to property owners. The reasons this type of outage occurs means there is a protective device in the system that has had a problem.

“Even though they are a nuisance they are part of the solution,” said Tracey.

To address the problem the company will be looking to increase tree trimming, maintenance and equipment renewal.

When buying “sensitive” equipment such as computers and TVs it is highly recommended that the property owner also provide surge protection for it.

“If you have a lightning strike on overhead line the energy has to dissipate somewhere and what it does is find the easiest path to the ground,” said Tracey. “This area has the highest penetration of lightning.”

Distribution problems that result in longer outages result from problems within the system.

The Town of Amherstburg is fed by three systems that come from Windsor and are shared with Hydro One.

“We don’t control where Hydro One goes with a feeder we can only control our location within,” said Tracey.

Essex Power has explored the possibility of accessing a dedicated feeder for Amherstburg. However, notes Tracey, the cost of a new feeder would be in the area of $3-million.

Councillor Diane Pouget inquired why when the town experienced the heavy rainfall event of Aug 9, there were only two people on call who also have to service four municipalities.

“The significant amount of travel time worries me,” said Pouget.

Tracey says having two service people on call doesn’t alter the level of service provided.

‘  Our objective is to get some equipment in the town within thirty minutes…that’s our on-call response requirement,” said Tracey, who notes that once a problem is assessed if more bodies or equipment is needed it is quickly sent in.

‘Our dollars are best spent on improving the infrastructure and that’s where we are spending our money,” said Tracey.

Councillor Robert Pillon agreed: “You have to do maintenance, you have to be pro-active rather than reactive. We need to get to some of these – problems – before the outage.”

Smart Meters have been installed and are now operational within the town says Tracey.

Councillor Carolyn Davies says she is concerned that this type of meter is unfair to shift workers as they are not always able to utilize low cost hydro during the off-peak hours during the night.

Smart meters readings in Amherstburg come into effect on November 11 with the first homeowner bills appearing in January says Tracey.

There are some programs coming out for low-income households and seniors and these will be “pushed” in the community,’ he adds.

Essex Powerlines was awarded The Electricity Distributors Association (EDA)“Environmental Excellence Award” for their significant accomplishments through performance, programs and special projects in the area of the environment and conservation in 2010.


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