Keeping You Connected: 2023 Reliability Report

Keeping You Connected: 2023 Reliability Report

Oshawa Power customers experienced 52% less downtime than the average customer in Ontario.

Providing the electricity that powers life across our city requires a carefully coordinated effort. Through rigorous planning, detailed asset management plans, and the maintenance and upgrading of Oshawa’s local power grid, we are dedicated to keeping the lights on and keeping our community connected.

At Oshawa Power, we understand that the service we provide is the backbone of our community and as our city grows at one of the fastest rates in the country, we know that the homes and businesses we serve are relying on us more than ever. In fact, in our recent Customer Priority Survey, you let us know that reliability and reducing both outage frequency and duration are ways we can continue improving our service.

So how did we fare in 2023? Our 2023 Reliability Report let’s you know how Oshawa’s local electric grid performed in the past year:

Reliability Score: 99.99%

Another year, another near perfect score on this important metric measuring our overall uptime. In 2023, we were once again able to achieve our goal of posting a reliability score of ‘four nines’.

Why is near perfect the best we can aim for? Despite our best efforts and investments into maintaining existing infrastructure, upgrading aging infrastructure, and creating one of Ontario’s most reliable SmartGrids, there are still factors outside of our control that cause outages inside our service territory. While we take great pride in mitigating the risk of outages through programs including our critter guard installations and porcelain phaseouts, certain events such as lightning strikes, extreme weather, animal contacts, and motor vehicle accidents mean that we will never be able to completely eliminate power outages.

Average Number of Outages: 1

One year, one outage – that is what the average customer experienced in 2023. We understand that this is not true for all customers, with many experiencing zero and some experience more. Our goal is to reduce this number as much as possible and aim for it to remain steady across all areas of our city.

Average Yearly Downtime: 48 Minutes

With more than 62,000 customers across Oshawa, the amount of downtime experienced by Oshawa Power customers can vary, but last year customers averaged just 48 minutes of total downtime.

How does this compare to past performance? This ranks as our third lowest mark of the last decade and 36% better than average over the same time period. Compared to the industry average of 160 minutes in 2022 (most recent datapoint available).

Oshawa Power Customers Experience Less Downtime Than Average:

Outage Minutes Per Customer
Year Oshawa Power Ontario Avg.
2023 48
2022 88 160
2021 34 151
2020 88 163
2019 59 158
2018 80 155
2017 44 171
2016 157 167
2015 73 167
2014 80 164

Outage Response Time: 12 Minutes

When an outage happens, it can seem like time stands still while you wait for the lights to come back. One thing we can promise is that our team does not stand still.

In 2023, we were once again able to improve our response time to just 12 minutes. Marking a 14% decrease from last year, crews were able to post our quickest time to dispatch yet.

What does this mean for our customers? It means that when a fault occurs interrupting the electricity flowing through our grid and knocks out power to your home, you don’t have to wonder if our team is on it. Our team is ready to go at a moment’s notice to begin working on restoration efforts and get the power back on for your family.

Unavoidable Outages: 59%+

As mentioned, despite our best efforts some power outages are simply unavoidable or outside of our control. Based on our classification of outage causes, more than half of all outages that occurred in 2023 were unavoidable. This includes outages caused by Adverse Weather, Lightning, Foreign Interference (i.e. Animal Contact, Motor Vehicle Accident), and Loss of Supply.

In 2023, Nearly 60% of Outages Were Outside of Our Control:

2023 Outages by Cause
Outage Cause % of Total Outages
Loss of Supply 21%
Lightning 19%
Foreign Interference 18%
Adverse Weather 1%

Additionally, Tree Contacts (not included in the above data) are another outage classification that we have minimal control over. Despite the best efforts of our Tree Trimming Program, these accounted for an additional 13% of all outages experienced across Oshawa in 2023.

Monitoring Momentaries: 150 Outages

Have you ever experienced a brief flicker in your electrical service, just enough to upset all your digital clocks? We understand that these brief or ‘momentary’ outages can be inconvenient, but are actually the sign of our SmartGrid working as designed.

As our SmartGrid capabilities continue to expand, grid automation and self healing technologies are becoming more common on infrastructure across our city. When a fault occurs, our grid is designed to isolate the fault, automatically restoring power to as many homes and businesses affected by the ongoing issue, as quickly as possible. This isolation leaves only the most directly affected properties without power until Oshawa Power crews can assess the issue and work towards restoration, whether remotely or by sending out a crew.

Purging Porcelain: Zero Outages

A major part of developing a safe and reliable local power grid involves the constant monitoring of equipment and issues to understand what risks are present and take action to mitigate potential hazards to both our equipment and the public.

Traditionally, porcelain switches and insulators have been used across our industry. However, this material poses a risk of causing pole fires, especially during the winter weather as road salt can evaporate, condense on the porcelain, and ignite due to voltage ‘tracking’. To combat this risk, we have created a Porcelain Changeout Program to replace all porcelain infrastructure with new, modern polymer alternatives. With more than 90% of our porcelain purged from our grid, we were able to completely eliminate pole fires caused by porcelain during 2023.

Avoiding Animal Contacts: 24 Outages

With poles and wires stretching across every area of our city, our infrastructure can often become part of local wildlife ecosystems. Many animals such as birds, raccoons, and squirrels interact with our equipment. This interaction poses both a hazard to local wildlife and creates potential for power outages. We have developed and implemented a Critter Guard Program, deploying animal deterrents across our grid to help reduce these risks and keep our local wildlife safe.

So far, we have installed fencing and additional deterrents at all of our substations and are in process of installing additional critter guards on each new overhead rebuild that we complete. These measures have helped us reduce outages caused by animal contacts, establishing a new yearly baseline of 20 to 30 outages caused by local wildlife.

The Year Ahead

With each new year comes a new opportunity to continue improving our grid and increasing reliability for customers across Oshawa. In 2024, we aim to continue our record of reliability as we prepare for our next 5-year Capital Plan that will determine how we deploy our investments to further develop one of Ontario’s most reliable and technologically advanced power grids.

In order to develop a plan that best serves our customers, we rely on your feedback. To have a voice and contribute to our next Capital Plan, we encourage you to take a moment and let us know what you think about your electrical service by completing our 2024 Customer Priority Survey. The survey will remain open until February 12, 2024.

To compare how we measure up to LDCs across the province and our own previous performance, check out the OEBs Scorecard Comparison Tool.

For more information on how we’re building towards improved reliability, visit our Capital Rebuild page.

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