Toronto’s current electricity transmission supply system fails to meet recognized power system reliability design criteria. Technical advisers accurately anticipated the current crisis years ago. Technical solutions presented in 2007 that would have prevented today’s crises were thwarted by the introduction of the Green Energy Act. Toronto suffered a nearly identical green blackout in July 2010 but made no major improvements. As if he was providing a punchline for a cynical joke, Energy Minister Chiarelli now assures us that the power system is following best practices.
Toronto is the only major financial centre in the G7 with a transmission system design that fails to meet what is called the N-1 criteria, that is the ability of the transmission system to reliably serve consumers when its most important single element is out of service.
The Ontario Power Authority published this 2007 report warning about the deficiencies with the Richview and Manby transformer stations, the threats they represent to reliability, and available solutions. The OPA’s preferred solution at the time was a combination of local gas-fired generation in the western GTA plus transmission upgrades. We haven’t done either. Instead, the OEB’s review of the OPA’s report was cancelled in late 2008 by the introduction of the Green Energy Act.
Two key gas-fired generators contracted for the western GTA, which were central to the OPA’s reliability plan, were also cancelled in the run-up to the 2011 election. Those power plants should have been located on the site of the abandoned coal-fired generator in south Mississauga but Mayor Hazel McCallion and former provincial Energy Minister George Smitherman prevented that sensible step.
Toronto’s July 2010 green blackout and its aftermath were nearly identical to the current crisis.
This morning, Chiarelli issued a statement saying:
“After every major event, provincial energy agencies conduct a review to determine how our energy infrastructure performed, and how personnel responded. This process ensures that best practices are in place to learn from every outage, and to minimize future system issues. It’s an opportunity to determine causes, learn what worked, and ensure we can deliver the best service for families and businesses.”
With thousands of Torontonians still in the dark since the heavy rain of Monday night might wonder what best “practices practices” Chiarelli is imagining.
Ontario can expect more green blackouts.