The list of customers waiting for connection has never been bigger at the Crown corporation, as new CEO Michael Sabia admits Hydro’s service is “not up to par” and plans to spend billions of dollars to fix the situation.
• Also Read: Let us not forget that Hydro-Québec is a state enterprise
• Also Read: Hydro-Québec and Caisse, a natural partnership
• Also Read: Tariff hikes for major industries to come, Fitzgibbon said
“We currently have 492 connection or power requests from residential users that were generated 24 months ago. These affect both primary and secondary habitats,” he responded Newspaper Head of Information Access at Hydro-Québec, François Ramsey.
Despite the explosion of requests for all types of work over the past two years, Hydro-Québec is still seeing a reduction in delays in many areas.
Worried about the coming winter
Johann Bosse and her partner are afraid to join this list of customers who have to wait several months to be connected.
“We are moving into our new home in Chertsey, Llanadier, on November 23 and we still have no power. I signed a contract with Hydro in February 2023. But since then, the communication time has always been long and many stakeholders are involved,” she said.
Most annoyingly, the couple had to pay Hydro $41,000 in October to plant poles and overhead lines, but nothing has been done yet.
“And there, if we were lucky, we had to rent a chalet for $1,700 a month to live for a month or two. We have no cash and the construction of our house has stopped,” said the 48-year-old woman.
“Out of control” delay
News magazine Several regions in Quebec have reported several cases of citizen connection delays in recent months. Some owners have been waiting for two and a half years. Many people have to pay thousands of dollars to heat using generators and some have damaged their property in the cold winter weather.
In its written response, the state company said, “These delays beyond Hydro-Québec’s control may be linked in particular to modifications to the customer’s project, work that requires prior facilitation or delays in obtaining requests considering the complexity.” For 397 of the 492 requests dating back more than two years, Hydro responded to feedback or to customers. More than a year of waiting for attributable work, she defended.
To speed up processing of deadlines, Hydro has already begun adjusting its practices, assured spokesperson Cendrix Bouchard. “We prioritize work with the highest impact for customers, we simplify the process of processing requests and standardize work methods. We are also working to reduce the number of stakeholders that our clients must interact with,” he says.
Hydro recruitment is ongoing
Using another access to information request, News magazine Hydro-Québec has reportedly hired 203 full-time engineers in 2022 and 101 so far (as of June 30) in 2023. A shortage of engineers is often cited to explain connection delays.
Remember that 2023 is the worst in the last 15 years for hydro outages. New boss Michael Sabia wants to spend up to $50 billion to fix the situation.
“There are too many breakdowns, we don’t communicate enough with our customers and it’s too complicated to interact with us. We invest less in the resilience of our network and the quality of services to our customers. We have to change that,” said Hydro-Québec, who unveiled Hydro-Québec’s 2035 action plan on November 2. He said on the occasion.