About 1,200 customers of Niagara-on-the-Lake Hydro were without power for up to 2½ hours on the evening of Wednesday, June 24th. The immediate cause of the outage was an animal contact with one of our pad-mounted switch boxes causing a fault on the feeder. This sort of natural incident is not unusual but several factors caused this outage to be longer than normal.
NOTL Hydro has a network of “Intelligent” automated smart switches which reroutes power to alternate feeders in such situations and keep outages to a very short duration. These smart switches were temporarily disabled due to a sizable transformer station upgrade project currently underway. Manual switching was therefore required to restore service. Manual switching requires additional labour resources and is time consuming. Significant adjustments have also been made to the switching configuration at the transformer station due to the upgrade project; some permanent and some temporary. Ensuring that the manual switching could be executed safely caused additional delays.
These smart switches have since been restored and a similar event this past weekend had only a few seconds outage.
Outages are a natural part of the electricity system where our assets are continually exposed to the natural environment. We are constantly investing in our service, such as the transformer station upgrade, to reduce the impact of these outages which will naturally occur. Every now and then we are caught by a sequence of events which makes the outage worse than we would desire. We apologise to customers inconvenienced by this outage.