CNP working on infrastructure and customer service upgrades in Fort Erie

Increased communication and reduced outages are the goals for Canadian Niagara Power (CNP).

In a presentation to Fort Erie council, Jeff Hoover and John Sander provided an update on work the electricity provider is doing to improve the grid in town, and provide customers with more timely information during outages.

Those improvements include upgrades to the system that allow for a better response when an outage occurs, as well as increased focus on clearing out troublesome vegetation near power lines, and improved emergency preparation.

“Since the 2022 blizzard we have enhanced our storm preparedness measures,” Hoover, a CNP regional manager, said.

Unfortunately, some of the numbers don’t look great, with CNP noting an increase in outages affecting Fort Erie residents between 2022 and 2023. However, Hoover said there were two large weather events in 2023 that are to blame.

“If you take those two factors out, we’re running at a very reasonable number right now.”

Early returns for 2024 seem promising, Hoover added.

“I think outages have been down this year due to our aggressive vegetation management program,” he said.

At the same time, CNP is continuing an automation project it began in Port Colborne. New smart switches automatically narrow down outages to a smaller area, reducing the number of customers without power and increasing the efficiency and effectiveness of crews working to fix the problem.

On the communication side, Sander, CNP’s manager of customer engagement, said they’re planning to launch two new notification systems later this year that customers have been asking for.

The first is a public facing outage map that CNP hopes to have operational by Q3, and the second is a text message notification system that will give customers the latest info during an outage. Sander said they’ve been hearing from customers a strong desire for both.

“I’m really excited about that project and getting it off the ground,” he said.

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