Hydro crews on scene at the Merivale Rd sub station Sept. 24, 2018 as the region deals with the after effects of the tornados that struck the region.
Wayne Cuddington / Postmedia
It’s taken $10 million and 12 weeks for Hydro One to repair the Merivale transmission station that was decimated when tornadoes hit Ottawa last September, plunging large swaths of the city into two days of darkness.“I’m happy to say now, the station’s in great working order,” said Jason Fitzsimmons, Hydro One’s chief of corporate affairs, at a Wednesday media briefing.The Merivale station is one of two critical junctures in the national capital’s power supply where Hydro One electricity flows into the Hydro Ottawa power system and eventually, into homes. On Sept. 21, one of the tornadoes that whirled through the Ottawa-Gatineau region hit the transmission station on Woodfield Drive in Nepean, decimating the infrastructure through which 1,000 megawatts – about the output of two nuclear reactors – is normally carried.“This site was completed destroyed, a lot of the critical equipment was damaged,” Fitzsimmons said.Thousands of households in southwest Ottawa lost power as a result, and it took more than 48 hours for electricity to be brought back to every affected home. Fitzsimmons used the word “heroic” to describe the power restoration effort and the work to set up a temporary fix to power customers through the following 12 weeks.Now, the storm-damaged transformer, poles, towers and other infrastructure have been repaired or replaced, and the Merivale station is fully operational once again. It’s hard to say if customers will actually notice a difference, Fitzsimmons said. “We obviously put a good temporary solution in place.”But, this work and other investments announced Wednesday – transmission line upgrades in south Nepean and between the Merivale and Hawthorne transmission stations, as well as tree removal and trimming along transmission corridors – “will help minimize outages and continue that supply,” said Fitzsimmons.He noted that a tornado like September’s is a “force majeure” – hard to predict and thus guard against. “The important thing is that our crews have the expertise to respond to storms and unusual events.”“We’ve got really strong incident command and emergency response measures in place. All those measures worked as they were expected to.”