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Report praises Toronto Hydro for ice storm response

A report on Toronto Hydro’s response to the December ice storm gave the utility top marks for its response to the wide-scale outages, and provided 25 recommendations for how to handle similar events in the future.

“What we have before us is a road map to move forward and enhance our already strong emergency management planning,” city manager Joe Pennachetti said Wednesday.

In January, the utility commissioned the Toronto Hydro Independent Review Panel to look at how it handled the pre-Christmas storm and areas that needed improvement.

The panel included Pennachetti; chair David McFadden; Sean Conway, from Ryerson University’s Centre for Urban Energy; and Carlos Torres, vice-president of emergency management at Consolidated Edison of New York.

The recommendations were disclosed Wednesday in the report with four key points isolated for review:

  • 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.

The massive ice storm that hit the GTA on Dec. 21, 2013, downed power lines and left 600,000 customers in Ontario without power. It cost the GTA an estimated $275 million, including $106 million for Toronto.

“Normally Christmas is identified by a time of light, but many Torontonians spent Christmas in the dark and in the cold,” McFadden said.

“Based upon the input which we received, it’s safe to say that the panel was very impressed with the tremendous dedication shown by Toronto Hydro’s team in dealing with the outage and bringing back power to hundreds of thousands of customers of Toronto Hydro.

“There was unanimous praise for the work of the men and women who struggled in 12-hour shifts in the wet and the cold to bring the city’s power back on.”

The provincial government announced in February that it would provide up to $190 million to help municipalities, including Toronto, pay for the cost of cleanup and recovery.

In May, Torontonians were asked to voice their thoughts online or in-person at four public sessions about how the city dealt with the storm. The city manager will report the feedback back to the executive committee on July 2.

Read the full report below:

Report on Toronto Hydro response to December 2013 ice storm

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