Toronto’s blackouts

I live a little north of the commonly perceived end of Mississauaga’s world (Barrie), but actually still within the orbit of the Toronto area.

The first hint of trouble yesterday was in an e-mail I received at 5:22 pm yesterday originating in Scarborough:

I have had four power outages so far today and am ready to strangle …

I’m not condoning the sentiment.

heh heh heh

Just after 7 the first phone call (south Etobicoke); with the request to see what’s happening with their power situation because not only is their power out, the data wasn’t working with the cell provider either.

Hilarity ensues: nothing on Toronto Hydro outage map for the area, so I entered an outage form – which after entering saw the screen change to a screen telling me if I have a problem to fill out the form below – which did not exist.

I gave the phone number for Toronto Hydro out to my caller, and wished them well.

Checked up on my parents. All good there in Mississauga. Their lights had flickered a number of times but no loss of power.

still, flickering?

So I went the system operator’s site (IESO)


The IESO started dealing with an inability to forecast wind (and maybe solar) prior to announcing the forecast problem; it looks like they dealt with unpredictable load shedding and spastic wind output by curtailing nuclear units at Bruce Power while simultaneously acquiring more generation from dispatchable gas power plants.


The IESO’s “stakeholder” initiative on processes to curtail wind generators was run by then legal guy, now chief, Bruce Campbell. While that was being plotted by Ontario’s insular group, the MISO system was negotiating the ability to curtail their significant wind generators from their control rooms. I suspect yesterday Ontarians paid for curtailment at Bruce nuclear units and natural gas generators because the IESO and wind generators can’t, or won’t, control wind output despite the ability of their technology to curtail rapidly and accurately.


Toronto Hydro claimed outages “are a result of Hydro One transmission issues, pole fires and system issues due to weather.”

I didn’t see anything from Hydro One or the IESO on “transmission issues” but it certainly wouldn’t be surprising given the evidence out of the IESO.


The problems all go back to disregarding the professional recommendation of the Ontario Power Authority – since folded with remnants placed under windy Bruce Campbell. For background see:


A couple of too hopeful statements.

In November 2012, a little over a year before many Torontonians lost power for the days around Christmas, Toronto Hydro CEO Anthony Haines gave a speech which had concluded:

The system is now alive and tingling sending information so that the biggest storm in corporate memory would have the fastest restoration time in corporate memory

Corporate memory must mean something different.

Today, 2 1/2 years after Haines’ smarts could do wonderful things for reliability, Ontario Energy Minister Bob Chiarelli, pictured here at a smart networking event in front of a machine that does ping, envisions one lab being a solution to blackouts:within 3-4 years”:

tweet from @RyersnCUE: Probably within 3-4 years, we’ll find a solution to these blackouts because of this #SmartGridLab says @Bob_Chiarelli

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