Ontario Electricity Regulation Crisis Report Part 133: Whitewashing the CityPlace Blackouts

In Part 132 of this series, I reported on the two root causes of the CityPlace blackouts. Contrary to Toronto Hydro’s claims, the blackouts were not caused by aging infrastructure but by overloaded infrastructure. Toronto Hydro first neglected to plan for and provide sufficient feeder capacity to serve CityPlace and then management negligently declined to follow emergency repair advice of internal experts, who recommended cable replacement immediately prior to the Labour Day blackout. In this 680News interview, check out the lies Toronto Hydro relies upon to paper over the blackouts.

In the interview, Toronto Hydro’s official talking points acknowledge that delays in bringing into service the transformer station under construction on Bremner St., called Copeland Station, contributed to the blackout. The interview represents the first acknowledgement I can find available to the public that the station on Bremner will not be in service until 2018. Notice that Toronto Hydro’s webpage about the Copeland project does not include any reference to when the project will go into service. In the 680News interview, Toronto Hydro remarks on the history of that project, claim that “the goal was aimed at 2015” for completion. Convenient amnesia. Here is a regulatory filing by Toronto Hydro issued in mid 2009 presenting the plan for the station on Bremner. At that time, Toronto Hydro planned for construction to start in 2011 with completion in 2013. Had that schedule been followed, supply for CityPlace could have been moved to the new station on Bremner before the completion of the last of the large condo towers at the site, which would have conformed to good utility practice. Construction did not actually begin until early in 2013.

As recently as January 2016, Hydro One was still under the impression that the in-service date for the station would be 2016. It is worrisome that Hydro One has been until recently operating with an assumed in-service date for the Copeland Station of 2016 since Hydro One is mostly responsible for managing the frightening condition of the expired and overloaded station on John Street, called Windsor station, supplying the financial district and other areas of the downtown core.

Whereas Toronto Hydro’s original plan was to complete the project in two years, the Copeland Station will take at least five years, possibly longer.

Another deceitful claim Toronto Hydro made to 680News is, “We’re doing whatever we can to manage it (aging assets).” That was not what happened immediately before the CityPlace Labour Day blackout. As previously reported, Toronto Hydro’s internal experts recommended emergency replacement of one of the cables that had been supplying CityPlace but that had been damaged beyond repair by overloading. This advice was overruled by management, on the grounds of avoiding costs for overtime work on the weekend. Notice that Toronto Hydro’s executive bonuses are indexed in part to minimizing costs like overtime.

It appears from the 680News interview that Councillor Joe Cressy has bought into Toronto Hydro’s lie that aging infrastructure caused the CityPlace blackouts. Councillor Cressy might inquire into the distinction between overloaded vs. aging infrastructure.

After failing to address any of Toronto Hydro’s big blackouts of recent years where root causes included neglect, negligence or both whitewashed with false claims blaming aging assets (e.g. Thorncliffe Park in 2013), don’t expect the Ontario Energy Board to take any useful action on any of this.

Toronto Hydro’s CEO Anthony Haines is a perjurer who lies constantly about what is going on at the utility. Under his leadership, Toronto Hydro has become Tony’s Hydro. Until he is gone, there is no way to get a straight story from Toronto Hydro.

Lights on, Haines out.

Postscript October 4: Here are examples of Toronto Hydro blaming the CityPlace blackout on aging infrastructure.

http://www.insidetoronto.com/news-story/6848595-toronto-hydro-joe-cressy-blame-aging-infrastructure-for-series-of-blackouts-at-cityplace/

http://toronto.ctvnews.ca/power-restored-to-buildings-in-cityplace-area-toronto-hydro-1.3057819

Some example of @torontohydro on Twitter:
“the cable replacement is the permanent fix. Both cables supplying feeders to the area were old and susceptible to failure” (response to @snaplington who had asked “should we anticipate this happening again?”, https://twitter.com/torontohydro/status/772497738990751745) and “main issues is aging infrastructure. Previous repairs were made that didn’t hold. The cable was fully replaced last night.” (response to @ericbeauchamp20 2:11pm 4 sept, https://twitter.com/TorontoHydro/status/772466127943393280). The outage TH was tweeting about started on September 3rd (I think). Another tweet was “It’s out equipment. Aging infrastructure’s the main issue. One feeder offline for repair, we’re having issues with the second (response to @TheGustaverse 9:48pm September 3, https://twitter.com/torontohydro/status/772249972297334784).

5 Comments

  1. Times Up For Toronto Hydro

    Not only from the Top Down Management Reform Is Needed, ASAP! Oversight and Direction should of been in place 25 years ago at the time of the Mega City Pre-Events that where scheduled.

    The City Of Toronto at the time voted to keep Toronto Hydro as a cash cow and within the six months time frame also had a in camera vote to turn Toronto Hydro into a profit service <———–At this point this is where everything went to hell and the internal scam's began with a firm language from the Board Of Directors at the time and with the Major Players in Management

    The Plan or Dream was to fork over to the City a % cut every 6 months or each year a good % cut and that will keep everything under wraps and everyone including the City Of Toronto will be Happy and Cheerful and everyone across both operations where happy with smiles on their faces and thumbs up.

    Well, this went on for over many years since Maga City was implemented and the new powers where made into law.

    From the late 1990's Toronto Hydro was just making their % payments to the City of Toronto without investing in the historical grid and the rest of the funds where invested on other matters, and payroll of the Old Boys and Girls Club and a tiny percentage of the generated income funds where ever dropped back into the current grid.

    Now today in the current times, Toronto Hydro is broke from the well and cleaver planned oversight of crafty players at the Board Of Directors and the Management Puppets who really took each and everyone of us who live within the Toronto boundaries for a ride for the last 20 plus years.

    The Only Salutation on the table to deal with this corruption is to sell at the very min, 50% tomorrow morning or perhaps 60% if you want to see positive and well balanced and honesty within this power service provider, the private partner will have Zero/0 tolerance of bad behavior or ill oversight due to their investment.

    Plus you have a CEO Anthony Haines , who rakes in 1.5 Million a year <—————– The Million Dollar Man of the old ways and times in how Toronto Hydro has operated since the late 1990's till now.

    Mr Haines <——————– Is The Final Well Crafted Product and Many Others Within Toronto Hydro who are also products of corruption of not having any oversight all these years.

    Times Up! Toronto Hydro " Must Get Sold, Everyone's Not That Blind or Deaf or Stupid"

    Times Up, Toronto Hydro, Time To Pull The Plug, and On With A Fresh New Outlook and Direction…

    I am sure, Mayor Tory has caught on and this game that has been played all this years will slowly come to a halt in the very near future by the the sell of a major chunk of Toronto Hydro or the Entire System as whole and that will be that and everything will and should fall into place like contracting everything out that is required under capital investment. and vital operations can be shipped up to the new Hydro One Operations partners and owners where Core Operations of the grid belongs, all under one roof and harmonized, no need to have a hundred control rooms scattered all over Ontario like a child in a sand box with his toys all around him for easy picking.

    Its not that expensive, Hydro One's Control Central Control Rooms are ready and plug and play ready for the last 30 years.

    All The Best,

  2. Its about time when resumes and credentials of each and every single staff of Toronto Hydro and management be reviewed. Its about time when organizations in general promote based on merit and performance. Toronto Hydro and electricity sector in general has been a “White Cowboys Club”.

    • The workers who reconnected CityPlace didn’t cause or extend the outages. It is the folks who put executive bonuses ahead of serving CityPlace customers and who have been responsible for transitioning Toronto Hydro into a post-truth utility who should be the focus of attention.

  3. Pingback: Contested Development | Helliwell Herald

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