Toronto Hydro Outages

Well, its back to electricity again- my post during the blackout wouldn’t save for some reason? We were without power for 24hrs at a low temperature hitting -20C. Was there a terrible conspiracy here, it all sounds perfect right? Did an alien ship crash in the neighborhood? A wanted international spy was discovered in the area so they cut the power to hunt him down? Maybe a network of computers were becoming aware and destined to destroy the earth so they needed to shut down the grid? Or, extreme cold burst some water pipes flooding
an electrical station.

Taking the bus home Friday morning from work, my neighborhood looked like a disaster site. Heading west everything was looking perfectly normal, until about Bathurst st. where it became completely dark except for car and police lights. I will say i was impressed with the TTC, i’ve never seen so many buses on Bloor- although they were packed with the morning rush.

Electrical power can be re-routed right? When we had that massive blackout in the summer a couple years ago, it was a chain reaction caused by overloading power stations trying to re-route power through neighboring grids. All areas were at peak demand so no neighboring power stations were able to handle the added load; we’re not at peak demand during the winter, so why couldn’t my power be re-routed through a neighboring grid. I understand that if i live in the country and the main line coming into town goes down we loose power. Here in the city one neighborhood out and not another, it makes no sense to me? Cut out the bad station and allow others to carry the increased demand, seems pretty logical. If the system isn’t designed that way, it should be. I know enough about electricity to know its possible, is this a question of Toronto hydro cheaping out on their infrastructure, or their emergency capacities?

There wasn’t even a standardized way to inform people of the situation on Toronto Hydro’s automated phone message. I heard maybe 8 different technicians update the message, each one giving different sorts of information. Problem was some gave good information like the city’s help line and such, but others said very little and deleted any good information that had previously been on the message. Remember when you’re stranded in the dark, these phone messages become the best source of news on the situation. One guy even said it would be fixed by 6-7am Friday uh 13hrs early! Jerk!

I stayed home thinking it was coming back soon, . . . .sucker.

Blackouts in the summer are a soothing reminder of a simpler, quieter world where people socialize and don’t go to work. Winter blackouts are the pits.

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5 Responses to “Toronto Hydro Outages”

  1. Says:

    The Toronto Hydro grid is designed so that in many cases we can quickly re-route power during an outage, It’s called “isolating”, and it’s done automatically on the downtown network…if supply cables aren’t burned. Outside of the core, we can re-route the Bloor-Danforth underground feeds in many cases. On side streets, which are mostly overhead feeds, it’s usually quicker to fix the problem with bucket trucks and overhead crews,

    A transformer station, like Dufferin Station, is a central hub that takes high voltage feeds from Hydro One, and transforms them down to 13.8KV, then feeds the power out to smaller substations in the area. They, in turn, feed down the streets to homes etc. Dufferin feeds more than 100 Megawatts out to the area of west Toronto where you live.

    When the flood occurred, we had to kill power in the station, including the Hydro One high voltage feed. Therefore, we had no power availalble to re-route to adjacent stations. We had to dry out the transformers before we could re-energize anything — that’s what took the time.

    Clearly, there should not have been a flood, and this is being addressed. Regarding the phone messages, you are absolutely right — this has to be improved. We worked through the news media copntinuously, but if you don’t have power, you don’t have access to radio. We apologize for the frustration that you experienced — we are working on our communications.

    Blair Peberdy
    Vice President
    Toronto Hydro Corporation

  2. Jules Cosby Says:

    Remi, you’ve got Toronto Hydro coming to your site. MOVIN’ ON UP!!!

    We were without power too. Think of all the blogging we could have done!

  3. remistevens Says:

    Mr Peberdy, thanks for the detailed response.

    Thanks to the workers who managed to get the repairs done, I’m sure its a challenging job to work with water and high voltage. Also a quick apology to the technician who i called a jerk- I’m sure he was already having a stressful night concerned with worker safety and the safety of those affected by the blackout. No offense intended, i call my cat a jerk. If my boss asked me to drop everything and quickly detail a tense situation- she would get a pretty lousy result. These workers surely had a terrible 24hrs, and i assume they did everything they could. I also acknowledge that Toronto Hydro was among Maclean’s top employers last year and is concerned with the environment.

    I understand that hydro delivery works by a system of reducing voltages before reaching consumers; high voltage hydro travels much more efficiently. In questioning our electrical infrastructure, i was wondering why there aren’t more of these central hubs. It seems to me that if there were 2 central hubs capable of supplying my substation, when one goes down, all affected substations could rely on this other hub for power. Maybe its not financially viable to do this, but surely its possible; substations can be isolated and re-routed, hubs could be as well if the infrastructure existed. It makes me wonder whether the grid in Forest Hill could be as easily shut down by one flooded hub? Higher taxes there have brought better streets, more police and better schools- is the electrical grid also biased by wealth?

    When the city is faced with a rare occurrence like this, they are going to act as quickly as possible in the interest of public safety. The longer it takes to fix a problem like this, the more strain will be felt by all emergency services. Except for the possibility that this was an alien/spy conspiracy, i’m sure Toronto Hydro did its best to resolve the problem quickly and safely.

    Honestly, my biggest frustration came from the fact that i worked a whole shift at work to come home to a freezing apartment. Next time, if at all possible, blackout Bloor and University so i can get sent home from work and stay toasty in my apartment.


  4. jim Says:

    Remi Stevens,
    Can you tell me who fornicates via the Internet by using the Toronto Hydro smart grid and associated network infrastructure as a link? Interesting.

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