Ontario Electricity Regulation Crisis Report Part 128: What’s the State of Repair of Toronto’s Electricity Distribution System?

Readers of this series may have noted that in my efforts to seek the assistance of the City of Toronto Ombudsman in bringing to light governance and operational deficiencies at Toronto Hydro (presented in Parts 120, 122, 123, 124), I learned that a group of Toronto Hydro retirees was on a parallel path. Part 125 of this series was the guest post authored by retired senior Toronto Hydro engineer David Grant and retired technical trades person and union activist Paul Kahnert. Since that posting, Grant, Kahnert and I have combined our efforts to investigate Toronto Hydro.

What follows is a letter delivered earlier today to Toronto Hydro’s chairman seeking information on the state of repair of key systems that the City of Toronto relies upon to provide a reliable supply of power. Our letter identifies systems that could, if not maintained to the standards of good utility practices, could put employee and public safety, and the security of supply at risk.

Any response from Toronto Hydro to our inquiry will be posted in this series.

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July 6, 2016

Open Letter to Toronto Hydro Board of Directors on Toronto Hydro Maintenance

David Williams, Chair
Toronto Hydro Board of Directors
14 Carlton Street
Toronto, Ontario
M5B 1K5

Dear Mr. Williams,

We are a group of retired trades, technical, engineering, management staff and Tom Adams, a well-known energy consultant.

For many years, Toronto Hydro Employees have been very concerned about the lack of proper maintenance on the Toronto Hydro Electric System. We are concerned, that the lack of maintenance on many key components of Toronto’s power distribution system is a long term systemic problem. For example, based on your actual maintenance records:

– What is the frequency of vault inspection on the downtown network system? Are there any vaults on that system that have not been checked for oil levels on transformers and primary switches, drains checked clear and vaults cleaned of dirt and debris in the last 5 years.

– What is the maximum duration that Toronto Hydro substations have gone without their bus bars and insulators cleaned?

– What is the maintenance frequency for the automated overhead Scada-mate switches and what percentage of these switches are not remotely operable?

These are just a few of the maintenance issues at Toronto Hydro. We are concerned that the lack of maintenance on the Toronto Hydro system is putting public and employee safety at risk and is also putting at risk, the safety and security of the electrical supply for the City of Toronto.

The purpose of this letter is to ask you to do your due diligence addressing the state of the electrical system for which you are responsible. We look forward to your response.

Sincerely,

Paul Kahnert
David Grant
Tom Adams

cc Councillor Paul Ainslie, Brian Chu, Derek Cowbourne, ICD.D, David D. Hay, Councillor Stephen Holyday, Mayor’s Designate, Tamara Kronis ,David McFadden, Michael Nobrega, Case Ootes, Mario Silva, Howard Wetston, Deputy Mayor Denzil Minnan-Wong, Heather Zordel

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