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Toronto Hydro Independent Review Panel releases report on Hydro's response to December 2013 ice storm



June 18, 2014

The Toronto Hydro Independent Review Panel released its report on Toronto Hydro's performance during the December 2013 ice storm. The report, the Response of Toronto Hydro-Electric System Limited to the December 2013 Ice Storm, will be considered by the City's Executive Committee on July 2 and is available at http://bit.ly/1l2LoM8.

"About 400,000 Toronto Hydro customers lost power at one point during the December ice storm, affecting more than one million City residents," said David McFadden, Chair of the Independent Review Panel. "Our review indicates that Toronto Hydro's response followed standard emergency management practices, however, we identified several areas in need of improvement to bring Toronto Hydro's performance in line with industry norms and leading practices."

The other Independent Review Panel members are Sean Conway, visiting fellow at Ryerson University's Centre for Urban Energy; Joe Pennachetti, Toronto City Manager; and
Carlos Torres, Vice President of Emergency Management at Consolidated Edison of New York.

On December 21 and 22 last year, Toronto experienced an extreme winter storm that produced freezing rain, ice pellets and severe wind resulting in widespread power outages. The scope and magnitude of the storm was unprecedented. Fallen trees and tree limbs took down power lines, creating hazardous conditions by blocking roadways, public trails and waterways, disrupting City services and causing a city-wide power outage. Approximately 86 per cent of all customers affected by power outages were restored within 72 hours and power was restored to all remaining Hydro customers by the morning of January 2 - 11 days after the storm began.

Toronto Hydro convened the Independent Review Panel in January to look at Toronto Hydro's performance during the storm and to confirm practices that worked well and identify areas in need of improvement.

The scope of work for this report focused on the widely-used four-phased emergency management life cycle: prepare, respond and recover (restore), mitigate and incident communications. Highlights of the findings include:

  • Toronto Hydro generally followed an Incident Command System-based approach at the management level, but had not fully developed, trained and exercised the approach across the company.
  • Customers could not obtain timely and accurate information about their outage status during the event.
  • Toronto Hydro secured and deployed mutual assistance resources early in the restoration and executed the overall mutual assistance process generally well.
  • Restoration priorities were in line with industry practices; however, the damage assessment process was not fully executed.
  • While the restoration approach varied, the overall restoration duration was in line with similar events in the industry.

The report also identifies 25 specific recommendations for consideration by Toronto Hydro management. Highlights of the recommendations:

  • Update emergency response plans to align with vision and strategy, incorporate the documentation of key processes and procedures, and train response roles and structure.
  • Develop capacity to provide customers timely access to report and obtain critical information related to their outage during day-to-day as well as large-scale outages.
  • Work with key stakeholders to identify, agree upon, and fund cost-beneficial system hardening and resilience initiatives, including vegetation management and targeted conversion of line segments to underground construction.
  • Enhance collaboration between Toronto Hydro and the City to integrate outreach, messaging, and education to improve citizen preparedness and awareness of major events.

As part of the review process, nearly 80 stakeholders were interviewed, including elected officials and staff from Toronto Hydro and the City of Toronto. The panel also reviewed relevant internal plans and reports, and considered City and Provincial regulations, as well as policy and standard emergency practices. The panel hosted public consultation sessions to give residents the opportunity to provide feedback on Toronto Hydro's response to the ice storm.

For more information :

Organization:
City of Toronto
Address:
100 Queen St W
Toronto, Ontario
Canada, M5H 2N2
www.toronto.ca


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