Two-year construction planned for new hydro station
An independent investigation into the March fire at Hydro Ottawa’s Beacon Hill North substation has determined equipment failure caused the blaze.
New Beacon Hill North substation just temporary
Hydro Ottawa spokesperson Rosemary Walsh said the fire was “due to the unforeseeable failure of a switch on the secondary circuit.”
She indicated there was no way crews could’ve picked up on the problem beforehand, noting it’s “just something that happened.”
The investigation, she noted, was conducted by the utility’s insurer.
Meanwhile, the substation currently in operation is just a temporary fix, although it offers the same “capacity and redundancies” of a regular substation and is just as robust, Walsh continued.
Construction of the new substation, which is currently underway, is expected to take two years, she said, noting the old system has to be completely replaced.
The substation at Shefford and Canotek roads was destroyed when a spectacular blaze broke out around 6 p.m. on March 13 while two workers were performing routine maintenance.
A fire engulfed the substation, pouring a thick, black plume of smoke into the air. A witness reported that, at its peak, flames reached 30 feet into the sky.
Police said the fire was contained within the transformer enclosure and did not spread to nearby commercial buildings or townhomes. No injuries were reported.
The blaze, however, knocked out power to roughly 5,000 Hydro Ottawa residential and commercial customers in the area and interrupted traffic along Montreal Road.
Camilio’s, a restaurant located in the strip mall directly beside the substation, was closed for two days as a result of the fire, owners of the establishment said in an earlier interview.
Hydro crews installed a mobile transformer unit after the accident to provide electricity to about 2,000 customers.
A second power outage in mid-April, attributed to equipment failure, left 17,000 area customers in the dark. It was around the same time utility crews replaced the mobile transformer with a “more robust, temporary solution,” Hydro Ottawa spokesperson Nathan Benson said at the time.
Repairs to the transformer left the area boarded up for months as crews worked to install the temporary equipment currently servicing the area.
Following the fire, complaints started to emerge from the surrounding community about damage to property.
Beacon Hill North Community Association president Tim Tierney said he lost three power bars and a Wii cable due to what appears to have been an intense power surge. He added he discovered his “expensive” Monster power bars had been blackened. Other residents, he noted, had their furnaces fried.
Walsh indicated claims of property damage were forwarded to the utility’s insurer, which assessed the claims on an independent basis. While no dollar amount was available, nor the number of residents reimbursed for damages, Walsh said some people were compensated.