Work has commenced on Gate Street to convert the overhead lines between John St. and Gage St. to underground lines. This is just the latest step of a program that started back in 1985 and has so far converted to underground all of Queenston and Chautauqua as well as most of the Old Town. There are still about ten years left in this program as can be seen on the map provided. Please note that the timeline is re-evaluated each year so subject to change.
The underground voltage conversion program is the combination of three ongoing projects. First, as a responsible utility, NOTL Hydro must replace its existing infrastructure on a regular basis. Our poles and wires are made to last 40-50 years but they do not last forever.
Second, NOTL Hydro has been gradually converting the voltage of all its primary infrastructure to a standard voltage of 27,600 volts. Having one standard voltage across the entire system has a number of benefits: it eliminates the need for intermediate distribution stations or transformers, it reduces the number of parts we need to keep in inventory and it reduces the line losses across the system. At the same time, we have been doing this underground conversion we, have also been replacing and converting sections of overhead line to 27,600 volts in the NOTL rural areas. These conversions should also be complete in another ten years or so.
Finally, converting to underground has the aesthetic benefit of improving the look of the neighbourhood. Placing electrical infrastructure underground has the added benefit of typically being more reliable than the overhead alternative since it is not affected by tree limbs and weather related problems. Converting an electrical system to underground is expensive which is why we can only do a few blocks at a time and why we can only convert the more densely populated areas of NOTL. One addition to the map is the plan to convert the section of Niagara Stone Road through Virgil to underground. This is anticipated later this year as it is being done at the same time as the Niagara Region road widening project.
NOTL Hydro recognizes that the process of burying the lines is messy and can be inconvenient. Based on the results to date and my discussions with customers, I believe it is worth the patience.