Toronto’s Second Green Blackout

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.


  1. This series of recent events points out the fallacy of the reputed planning that came from the Ministry of Energy offices. It also points to the fact that this problem has been left outstanding for years (as you nicely pointed out in July 2010) while the parties that should have been fixing the problem were instead instructed to focus on hooking up what has turned out to be useless wind and solar developments. Where was the Exhibition Place turbine in all of this–presumably just dripping water!

      • Please tell me your suggestion would exclude the “planning professionals” riding on the backs of taxpayers to fulfill the utopian eco-dreams of Ontario’s almighty MMAH central-planning “politburo”?

  2. A concise version of events which should have caused OPA to stand up and execute an intervention to save their own credibility and the citizens they are supposed to provide with cheap and reliable electricity.

    The Auditor General in his 2011 Report pretty much exposed the complete lack of best practices which only went from non-existent to corrupt so “imagining” is totally accurate.
    “wonder what best “practices practices” Chiarelli is imagining”

    I hope at the public input sessions the OPA and IESO are hearing that they will have to serve the truth better if they are ever to regain trust and respect. The lies have to stop.

  3. We can also expect some red, as businesses struggle with skyrocketing rates and residents wake up to the rates impacts of the Green Energy Act.

  4. Now that Toronto residents have had another “taste” of this Government’s failed energy policies I wonder if anyone will ask critical questions about the Green Energy Act and how it’s just plain wrong!
    Rural Ontario has been impacted for years now but there is such a massive divide between Rural and Urban residents in their understanding of what’s wrong in Ontario, I’m afraid it will take at least a couple more minor disasters to wake them up!
    All we can do is to keep publishing the truth!

    • Whenever the majority of individuals comprising any society fail to recognize and insist that the primary role of their government(s) must remain protecting the inalienable, God-given rights of every individual on an equal basis – repetition of the darker days throughout human history appears inevitable.

      Perhaps even moreso, should they also fail to prioritize imposing and retaining strict limitations on the power, jurisdictional reach and roles of their government(s)?

      • Without the “support” of the Municipal level of Government all other levels of Government are basically “dead in the water”.
        A rather simplistic view of politics but this is truly the only avenue the common citizen has today to bring back any semblance of order in their communities. TAKE BACK YOUR COUNCIL!

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