Underground Conversion

Niagara-on-the-Lake Hydro hosted an Open House to talk about the underground conversion planned for the Olde Town on September 24, 2019. This multi-decade project will convert all overhead lines in the Olde Town to pad-mounted transformers with power and communications lines buried underground. We are seeking comments on the remaining years of the project as there is some flexibility in certain locations to do them sooner, or later.


+- How deep are the underground cables?

The cables are set about 3ft deep to ensure that they are stable and are more likely protected from accidental disruption.

+- Will the electric cabling interfere with phone or telecommunications?

The electric lines are in protected conduit and telecommunication cables are in separate conduits and never touch. They are placed using common standards throughout the industry so that there is no interference.

+- How long will I be without power?

A typical UG conversion will last around 30 minutes up to 3 hours during the change-over. If having power is critical for your personal well-being, please contact our office.

+- Will the pad-mount transformers be on the same side of the road as the poles?

Each conversion is different and a pad-mount transformer may not necessarily be placed on the same side of the road. It is of note that we take special notice of pad-mount transformer locations. We try to ensure that they are placed where they are not an “eye-sore” and in an optimal location for aesthetics.

+- How much will this cost me?

If you already have an underground connection, nothing. There are some houses on affected roads that already have an underground connection even though the wire along the road is above ground. These customers will still need a brief power interruption to complete the power re-routing process. If you decide to keep your above ground connection, nothing. However, it means you will still need to have a pole near your home for the above ground wire. This will affect the aesthetics of the street. If you decide this is a good time to convert your connection from above ground to underground then there will be a cost. There will be no charge from NOTL Hydro to convert to UG for affected street conversions. There IS a cost to prepare your home’s meter base for the conversion which NOTL Hydro does not perform. The average cost should be under $1,000 and we encourage customers to group together and source an electrician with potential group discounts.

+- What if I decide not to convert?

This is your choice. A pole will be necessary to continue your overhead service. There is no cost for this option. It should be noted that should you decide to convert to underground at a later date that there will be a cost to connect your system aside from your electrician costs. You will save $3,000 to $5,000 by converting at the time of your street conversion. Note that your neighbours may not be excited about this decision.

+- What about street lights?

The Town is responsible for supplying and maintaining street lights in Niagara-on-the-Lake. They also recently upgraded a large majority of their street lights to LED technology so there may be reluctance to change over. We encourage you to talk to your councilor to see what plans may be in place for pole and streetlight updates.

+- I’m worried about my gardens and lawn being destroyed.

NOTL Hydro is determined to ensure that any disturbances are kept to a minimum and have elected to bore in most areas versus the option to trench. Boring is minimally invasive and helps to reduce any damage/restoration needed with a conversion. If you have specific concerns please contact NOTL Hydro when you are notified that your area will be undergoing a conversion so that we can alert our crews of any potential issue.

+- When will I know that my area will be converted?

We have a supplied a map on our website with our current plans for conversion and this can be used to give you a rough estimate of the year that it will be converted. When your area is going to move forward, you will receive a letter in the mail letting you know that your area will be undergoing a conversion in that year to 18-months. You will receive a second letter closer to the actual date of the conversion which will advise you to inform us of your decision to move forward or not. At this time you should source a contractor for your electrical work. More detail will be provided that will help you with this.

+- Will my natural gas or irrigation system get damaged during the conversion?

With each conversion, locates are performed. A 3rd party company will visit the location to be converted and will mark the area where there are telecommunications, natural gas lines and irrigation lines so that the boring company does not damage them. When you see the marks on the grass, this is an indicator that work will be done in your area very soon.

+- Will work be planned to coincide with Town projects?

Yes and No. The town (and Region) works with NOTL Hydro when there are major projects that can affect Hydro Poles. There is an upcoming project to widen Niagara Stone Road in Virgil in 2022 and it’s during this time that we will be converting this area. This cooperation will help to reduce the inconvenience of the project as well as reduce costs and restoration efforts. Smaller projects such as sidewalks and streetlights are not coordinated with the Town and we advise that if you have any questions, please contact the Town directly.

+- If a street is going to be converted in less than 2 years, will this affect the amount of tree trimming performed?

NOTL Hydro will be in contact with our tree trimming company to try to ensure that tree trimming is done appropriately to protect the grid but to also not over trim an area that will not have poles in the coming years. We accept that our tree trimming company works with the primary focus to ensure that the lines are safe, but will make the effort to ensure that trimming is appropriate.

+- What about Bell and Cogeco? What if they don’t convert?

Bell, Cogeco and other Telecommunications companies rent the use of our poles. They tend to convert at the same time as hydro and we ensure that they are aware of our conversion plans. A telecommunications conversion may not be done at exactly the same time as the electric conversion due to budget constraints that year, but are often converted shortly after.