Follow up regarding power failures in CityPlace
Dear CityPlace neighbours:
The repeated power outages that CityPlace endured in late August and early September have been a source of serious concern. On five instances over three weeks, these outages caused serious challenges, with the longest outage lasting for about 18 hours. They disrupted the everyday activities of residents and businesses, caused the loss of a great deal of refrigerated and frozen food, raised health issues for people who rely on air conditioning during hot weather, and effectively stranded anyone who was not able to climb stairs for multiple storeys.
On September 20, we sat down together with representatives from Toronto Hydro for a detailed briefing to learn about the cause of these outages and find out what Toronto Hydro has been doing to resolve the problem. As an outcome of this meeting, Toronto Hydro agreed to prepare a letter updating the CityPlace community, which you can read here.
The power outages were caused by multiple failures in both the main and backup cables that provide electricity to CityPlace directly from the Strachan Transformer Station. The system is designed so that either the main or backup cable can provide full power to CityPlace at any given time, and it is extremely rare to have problems with both at once. Throughout the period of repeated outages, only once – the 18-hour outage – did both cables fail at exactly the same time. During the shorter outages, only one cable had failed, but it takes a few hours to manually switch the electricity supply to the backup cable.
Over the past weeks, Toronto Hydro has replaced both sections of problematic cable entirely, totalling about 1.5 kilometres of new infrastructure serving CityPlace.
As we discussed with Toronto Hydro, there is still more work required to ensure that we can all be confident in the reliability of the electricity supply to the neighbourhood.
First, an investigation is underway to determine the underlying cause of these equipment failures. It should not have been a problem of capacity or aged infrastructure, but all possibilities will be reviewed. Toronto Hydro has committed to sharing this information with the CityPlace community.
Second, Toronto Hydro will undertake a preliminary review of the cost and complexity of installing automatic switches in CityPlace buildings in order to eliminate the time it takes to manually switch buildings from the main power supply to the backup cable.
Third, Councillor Cressy brought a motion to City Council earlier this month to direct Toronto Hydro to conduct a formal review of these power outages and report back to City Council on preventative measures against any future incidents, the state of electricity capacity and planning in the neighbourhood, and ways to improve communications protocols during major power outages like these.
We will continue to work closely together and with Toronto Hydro to ensure that this problem is investigated and permanently fixed. Lessons learned from this experience must help avoid future power outages and improve the protocol for responding to power outages and communicating with affected residents and businesses.
Ward 20 Trinity-Spadina
CityPlace Residents' Association
CityPlace & Fort York BIA