According to Mr. Google, trees have been on earth for 360 million years. They grow from a few inches to a couple of feet in height each year. Some live for centuries, but most have a healthy life span of less than that. Square timber from trees provided some of the first exports from our county 115 years ago.
Some of my best friends died from a widow-maker falling on them while felling trees. Dad told me, “always look up” for a dead limb or any tree part that might fall before walking or working under a tree. I once witnessed trees being planted under a power line. Those trees would have to be cut down before they could provide enough shade to rest under because their branches would have grown into the power line.
I have had several friends who worked most of their life for one hydro company or another. They all told me that most power interruptions were caused by branches or the entire tree falling on a power line. Through their lifetime of working for hydro, they spent untold hours trimming branches or sometimes an entire tree that posed a danger of shorting out or breaking down a hydro line.
Some people are very attached to their trees and refuse to give permission to hydro to trim trees close to a hydro line. Every few years we get asked by hydro to allow the trimming or cutting of trees too near one hydro line or another that go through or pass by our farm. Common sense makes it a very easy decision. Previous years of watching ice storms change the shape or break down tree branches and entire trees teach us about the necessity of trimming back branches or trees that could fall on power lines and leave us in the dark. Several experiences that left us in the dark for several days helps drive the point home.
Sometimes, I wonder if some of the people that make decisions at Hydro Quebec have any experience working on the ground with the linemen who have to repair broken lines after a strong wind or an ice storm? A farm friend of mine had to embarrass the top brass at Hydro with some documentation of power outages in his area.
HQ didn’t have the detailed information of power outages, dates, times, duration and frequency that that farmer had written down with great detail. This would be the same hydro company that can tell how much power you have used without looking at your meter.
The HQ linemen and repair crews deserve nothing but a great big thanks for their dedication and work ethic in getting power back on for the hundreds of thousands of customers who spent hours, days, or even a week without hydo. I do question the forward planning of bosses farther up the line. The several weather networks had been warning eastern Canada about a possible ice storm for several days before our power went off. Many stores that sold standby generators had truckloads more in stock the day that the ice storm hit. Somebody there was watching the weather channel.
When the Quebec Premier went on TV to boast about the work that HQ had done, he didn’t know whether they had 1,000, 1,400 or 1,800 workers repairing the grid. A hydro working neighbour of mine told me 30 years ago that a couple of poles and a few more switches on the distribution lines could send power different ways to put the power back on to hundreds of customers while repairs were being made to a line that only could affect a few. To this day, 30 years later; I know of a few of these switches that were never installed.
Those of us who were out of hydro for several days will make sure to give permission for HQ maintenance workers to trim or cut trees that might endanger future power outages.
Thanks again to our hard working, dedicated, hydro workers.
Chris Judd is a farmer in Clarendon on land that has been in his family for generations.
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