Hydro-Québec finally removes tree leaning atop St. Lazare power line


PHOTO BY JOHN JANTAK

St. Lazare Mayor Robert Grimaudo told resident Richard Masys that despite Hydro’s apparent quick action to remove a tree top resting atop a power line, it still took four months to respond to Masys’ initial complaint on August 1 before the power utility recently took action.

Hydro-Québec responded promptly to a St. Lazare citizen complaint about a birch treetop that had been resting on an electrical line for four months and resolved the situation on December 1, less than 48 hours after being informed by Your Local Journal two days earlier.

Technicians arrived at resident Richard Masys’ property last Thursday for an assessment as promised by Sandrine Brindejonc, a Hydro media representative for the Estrie and Montérégie region.

What Masys didn’t expect was that the problem would be resolved to his satisfaction the same day. The tree was pruned and other intertwined branches were removed on the spot, one week earlier than planned.

Masys said he first told Hydro about the tree August 1, but his request for service went unanswered. Two subsequent requests made directly to Hydro road crews in the area were also apparently not answered, according to Masys.

Aside from being frustrated about Hydro’s apparent inaction, he worried that that a freezing rain or heavy snow storm would eventually bring down the line which was already bending from the strain of the tree top, and cause an unnecessary power outage.

Brindejonc confirmed that Masys called Hydro to report the matter but an apparent miscommunication between both parties meant that information provided at the time was insufficient to do a proper assessment.

As soon as Masys’ situation was reported along with photographs of the offending tree, Brindejonc looked into the complaint immediately and promised to resolve the matter. Hydro also apologized for the incident and said its primary aim is to always provide excellent customer service.

Masys reported his success to Mayor Robert Grimaudo during question period at the Tuesday evening council meeting. “Last month I mentioned to you the tree that was been sitting atop the hydro wire. You guys told me you couldn’t do anything. It took a journalist to call Hydro who sent a representative down.”

Grimaudo replied that Hydro’s quick response to this specific incident doesn’t reflect the overall difficulty most people and entities like the Municipalité Régionale de Comté (MRC) de Vaudreuil-Soulanges have dealing with the utility, adding that it still took four months to resolve Masys’ situation.

“I sent your information to the attention of the MRC which is also involved in the Hydro- Québec dossier in Vaudreuil-Soulanges. Your situation is a true example of how Hydro is uncooperative and how difficult they are to deal with. The MRC is aware of it,” said Grimaudo.

“This issue affects all St. Lazare residents,” Grimaudo added. “Hydro-Québec are an entity unto themselves and unfortunately whether you’re a municipality or an individual, there’s very little that can be done except to put extreme pressure on them. As you saw in the Your Local Journal article last week, we have been putting pressure on them and so has the MRC. I’m glad your problem is resolved.”

Two weeks ago, MRC Prefect and Très-Saint-Rédempteur Mayor Jean Lalonde held a press briefing with journalists to discuss Hydro’s unique autonomy and lack of customer accountability.

“I think that Hydro has too much power now,” said Lalonde. “I feel for the citizens of Vaudreuil-Soulanges. There are people in our municipalities that have been waiting for one year and more to get services. We’re trying to get an explanation from Hydro because it’s not normal to have these situations.”

Hydro spokesperson Jonathan Petit said the utility will address concerns raised by the MRC about service in the New Year. “Hydro-Québec is well aware about the complaints from the MRC and we are aware there are certain dossiers that they would like to discuss with us. We will meet with MRC representatives in January,” said Petit.

“A date has already been set we will talk about how we can improve service for our customers in the MRC,” he added. “Hydro-Québec is already working harder to give better service to the population and we want to cooperate with all our customers and the MRC.”

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