Hydro One has announced it is investing $10 million to improve Orillia and Simcoe County’s power resiliency and reliability.
Hydro One officials and politicians were on hand at the Orillia Transmission Station in Severn Township on Monday to make the announcement.
“Hydro One has been a member of this community now since 2021, when we formed a partnership with Orillia, and it’s been an exciting partnership for us, and it’s part of our vision of energizing life for people in Ontario,” said Hydro One chief operations officer David Lebeter.
The work being carried out includes replacing a transformer near the end of its life, and configuring the station to connect to a mobile transformer unit, which will ensure backup power is available to the community in the event of an extended outage.
Hydro One will also replace insulators along 400 structures, originally installed in the 1950s and 1960s, which prevent electricity from flowing down its structures and into the ground.
As part of the investment, two smart switches were installed last year, which helps minimize the duration of power outages by granting control centre operators the ability to remotely control electrical equipment.
The transmission station serves communities from Barrie to Minden.
“We’ve all seen the storms come through; the May 21 storm is the one that stands out the largest for me, one of the biggest we’ve ever experienced, and Simcoe County was not spared,” Lebeter said. “One thing I’ve learned in the last two-and-a-half years (is this area) continually gets hit by storms, and … these investments are going to harden our systems and prepare for the future.”
The investment will help area communities combat the effects and changing needs brought on by climate change, said Orillia Mayor Steve Clarke and Severn Mayor Mike Burkett.
“Although this investment is also addressing aging infrastructure and planning for future growth, it’s also largely being done with the idea of mitigating the effects of climate change,” Clarke said. “We’re all seeing more frequent and more severe storms … so this wonderful, prudent and significant investment really is designed to protect our energy supply for decades to come.”
“I think what we need to realize is with what’s happening with our automobiles, and the amount of electricity that we’re going to need in the future, it only makes sense that we do these upgrades so that we’re able to provide or get off the fossil fuel that is causing climate change,” Burkett added. “I really appreciate the investment that (Hydro One is) going to make.”
Simcoe North MPP Jill Dunlop highlighted the work Hydro One carried out following the storm on the Victoria Day weekend, when thousands lost power.
“(Hydro One) replaced infrastructure in a few days that would typically take several months, and turned the lights back on for thousands of people,” she said. “This $10-million investment in the Orillia Transmission Station, and along transmission lines to the area, will help build a more resilient grid to face any future weather-related events … The upgrades will ensure that people in Orillia continue to benefit from reliable, affordable and clean electricity for decades.”