Power outage to bring upgrades and maintenance

By Merna Emara
Staff Writer

All customers of the Fort Frances Power Corporation will have power outages on Sunday in order to do work on the transformer station.

This outage will affect electrical customers within the town boundaries who they service. There are a few customers around the town boundaries such as the airport.

Joerg Ruppenstein, president and CEO of the Fort Frances Power Corporation (FFPC), said this outage occurs once every one to two years to service the equipment at the station. The last time the FFPC had an outage was in July of 2019.

“One of the jobs that we’re doing for example is that we’ve got two power transformers at the station,” Ruppenstein said. “And we’re actually installing a blast barrier. In the event that one of those has a catastrophic failure, it protects the one beside it from being potentially affected. It’s more of a safety precaution.”

After the installation of the blast barrier, should a failure of a major piece of equipment occur, it would not damage the one beside it. Ruppenstein said it is an insurance policy.

This job will be done with the help of local contractors and quality builders. They will be erecting blast barriers with cranes and crews, Ruppenstein said, adding that in order to do that work safely, they have to shut the power down.

Ruppenstein said some businesses may have power generators installed, such as the Civic Centre and the high school.

“There’s no issues with backup generation, as long as that was installed safely,” Ruppenstein said. “In order to install backup generation, you’ll have to get the installation inspected by the Electrical Safety Authority. And as long as they deem it safe, then it should be good to go.”

These power outages are a risk management, Ruppenstein said, adding that if not done, the FFPC will stand a greater chance of having equipment failures when they least want them to happen.

“We would rather be proactive and do maintenance work on a nice day in the fall, as opposed to having something break under extreme conditions,” Ruppenstein said. “It’s an insurance policy and we’re better off to bite the bullet now, as opposed to not doing critical maintenance.”

The FFPC is also working on getting a second supply line into the transformer station. If they are successful, a lot of these types of outages will be eliminated in future years, Ruppenstein said.

“That’s something that has been on our radar and something that we’re working hard towards achieving,” Ruppenstein said. “We’re hopeful that in the near term in the next three to five years that we will have a second supply line constructed. Outages like this would be rare.”

There is nothing in particular customers should avoid doing during the outage, provided they do not run the risk of doing indoor barbecues in their garages.

If the job goes well, Ruppenstein said there is a big chance power could be restored earlier than the scheduled 12:30 p.m. time. If power does not return to isolated customers, they should check with their neighbours to see if they have the same problem, then give the FFPC a call.

“Enjoy a peaceful morning as much as you can,” Ruppenstein added. “We apologize for any inconvenience.”