Shining a Light on 2022 Outages
As we move into a new year and leave 2022 behind us, we want to share some important data, information, and highlights about the reliability of our local power grid.
Providing safe and reliable electricity to more than 60,000 customers across Oshawa comes with its fair share of difficulties. In 2022, we experienced a variety of unique challenges; wildlife contacts, downed tree limbs, motor vehicle accidents, May’s extreme derecho storm, and even a giant symbol of national pride.
Despite these factors, the strength and resiliency of our power infrastructure and tireless work ethic of our crews helped us to achieve industry-leading reliability results.
99.99% Overall Reliability Score
At Oshawa Power, we recognize the importance of the service we provide to our community. In an increasingly connected world, electricity is the fuel that powers our lives, homes, and businesses. Our goal is to provide a safe and reliable supply of electricity to our community when they need it.
In 2022, we were able to meet our goal, accomplishing a reliability score of greater than 99.99% or, as the industry calls it, ‘Four 9s’. While a perfect reliability score of 100% is a near impossibility, we will continue to maintain, strengthen, and grow our grid to better serve our city and ensure our customers are connected to one of the most reliable local grids in the province.
What does a reliability score of 99.99% mean to Oshawa Power customers? It means that the average customer experienced just 88 total minutes of outage time last year. Some customers may have experienced a single extended outage, multiple shorter outages, or no outages at all, but overall our average customer experienced less than an hour and a half of downtime in 2022.
Last year, the largest factor in our outage duration number was Adverse Weather, accounting for more than 70% of overall system downtime. Much of this downtime can be traced back to interruptions caused by May’s historic derecho storm.
One of the most important factors in limiting outage durations and ensuring we keep our customers lights on, is the speed with which we respond when issues occur. Whether an issue knocks out power to one customer or 1,000 customers, our industry-leading smart grid allows us to begin coordinating restoration efforts instantly.
In many cases our integrated smart grid, consisting of our Fault Location, Isolation, and Service Restoration (FLISR) system, auto-switches, and self-healing capabilities is able to automatically detect an issue and its location, rerouting and restoring power to affected areas in seconds with customers experiencing no more than a momentary loss of power.
When restoration is unable to occur automatically to all customers, our coordinated restoration process flows through our Control Room Operators and to our crews whose average response time is less than 15 minutes.
Our rapid response times allow our customers peace of mind, ensuring that crews will be on site, working to mitigate issues and restore power as fast as possible.
Another key metric used to measure our system reliability is the average outage frequency for our customers. In 2022, our average customer experienced approximately a single outage.
We understand that some customers may have experienced more than one outage, and many experienced zero. As part of our Capital Rebuild Plan, we are strategically improving and rebuilding key areas of our grid in order to better serve areas of our city experiencing increased outage frequencies.
Planning for the Future
Our multi-million dollar Capital Rebuild Plan allows us to prepare for Oshawa’s growth as one of Canada’s fastest growing cities and renew infrastructure in well established areas of the city. This plan is meticulously developed in 5-year cycles to maintain the strength of our grid and improve overall reliability for all of our customers.
As part of our Capital Rebuild Plan in 2022, our crews upgraded or rebuilt 4,653m or approximately 4.6km of overhead and underground wires, replaced or installed 67 poles, and connected 86 new transformers. All of these upgrades are carefully planned to minimize the impact of scheduled outages during construction, ensure aging infrastructure is replaced, and improve system capacity as Oshawa continues to grow at a record pace.
Battling the Elements
In May 2022, a devastating derecho swept across our province causing extensive damage. With wind speeds eclipsing 100 km/h, trees were uprooted and torn limb from limb, utility poles broken, and overhead power lines snapped, wreaking havoc on power grids across Ontario.
Locally, more than 9,000 customers across our service territory were left without power. Within minutes our teams activated to begin restoring service in problem areas across the city, restoring power to nearly all customers within 24 hours.
During our restoration efforts, crews replaced more than 25 poles and 8.1km of overhead lines — approximately enough to stretch from Oshawa’s eastern border with Courtice, across the city to our western border with Whitby.
After working around the clock to turn lights back on throughout our city, many of our crew members traveled to neighbouring districts to assist with further restoration efforts, an initiative that we remain incredibly proud of.
With our climate changing at an increasing rate, we understand that extreme weather events like May’s storm will become increasingly common. Our grid, operators, and crews are prepared with the processes and knowledge they need to limit the impact of adverse weather on our city.
Starting Strong in 2023
On January 25th we experienced the first major weather event of the year, sustaining nearly 25cm of snowfall. Winter storms often have a large impact on local power grids as heavy snow accumulation and accompanying high winds can knock limbs from trees, cause increased stress on power infrastructure, and increase the risk of motor vehicle accidents.
Despite the adverse weather, Oshawa Power’s grid stood strong. Thanks to our smart grid system, prolonged outages were avoided with the exception of approximately 15 customers in the direct vicinity of damaged infrastructure.
By detecting these issues the instant they occurred, our system was able to reroute power to other homes in the area, restoring service to all but those directly affected by the issue, within a moment’s notice.
The new year represents a new opportunity to further improve our system reliability. With fully-integrated grid automation tools and revamped emergency restoration processes based on learnings from last year’s derecho, our team expects to continue our record of outstanding reliability.
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.