Area mills affected by blackout

The lights never went out here last Thursday but that didn’t mean local businesses weren’t affected by the largest blackout to ever hit North America.
“Once the bump happened, our machines went down,” John Harrison, general manager of the Abitibi- Consolidated mill here, said this morning.
He noted the three paper machines were shut down by the power spike, adding one was down for about 90 minutes and the other two for six-and-a-half hours.
“We were specifically told not to pull power from the grid,” Harrison said of bringing the massive paper machines back on line.
He explained the local mill is always drawing energy from the grid—and even more so this year with low generation due to the low water flow pouring through the dam here.
But the decree from the Independent Market Operator was cautionary to keep the northwestern grid stable.
“The Northwestern Ontario grid is tied to southern Ontario through a transmission line, east/west,” Harrison said. “They [IMO] were worried about the northwest grid, needing it to get the rest of the grid up and running.
“They didn’t want to upset the Northwestern Ontario grid,” he added. “It was the only area of Ontario that had power.”^Voyageur Panel in Barwick reportedly faced a similar situation Thursday afternoon.
Jam21, a local Internet service provider, also was affected by the outage as its Internet service was disrupted here until about midmorning on Friday.
Premier Ernie Eves, in a province-wide televised address last night, asked all businesses in Ontario to reduce their power usage by 50 percent while the power grid stabilizes.
As part of that request, the premier announced a standing order for all non-essential government offices to be closed to save power be carried forward until the situation in southern Ontario is rectified.
That means government offices in Fort Frances, and across Northwestern Ontario, will be closed unless deemed essential, such as is the case with the Ministry of Natural Resources Fire Headquarters.
“They’re empty,” Fort Frances resident Tannis Drysdale, president of the Northwestern Ontario Associated Chambers of Commerce, said this morning. “Isn’t that ridiculous? “It’s a different grid and has nothing to do with southern Ontario,” she added.
Drysdale said rather than close the offices here, they could have been picking up some of the slack caused by this hydro crisis.