The entire Town lost power as a result of a “Loss of Power” incident. The content below is from the report submitted to the Ontario Energy Board (OEB).
OEB Filing 22.214.171.124.10: Major Event Response
Prepared by: Niagara-on-the-Lake Hydro Inc.
October 9, 2021
Prior to the Major Event
- Did the distributor have any prior warning that the Major Event would occur?
No. This was an unanticipated loss of supply from the transmitter.
- If the distributor did have prior warning, did the distributor arrange to have extra employees on duty or on standby prior to the Major Event beginning? If so, please give a brief description of arrangements.
- If the distributor did have prior warning, did the distributor issue any media announcements to the public warning of possible outages resulting from the pending Major Event? If so, through what channels?
- Did the distributor train its staff on the response plans for a Major Event? If so, please give a brief description of the training process.
Responding to any outage, whether major or minor, is a core service of NOTL Hydro so staff are well trained. Key features of this training include:
- In-depth knowledge of safety measures required to be undertaken as part of any response,
- Knowledge of the NOTL Hydro grid,
- Knowledge of the products used in the NOTL Hydro system,
- Understanding of the responsibility for decision-making during an outage.
- Did the distributor have third party mutual assistance agreements in place prior to the Major Event? If so, who were the third parties (i.e., other distributors, private contractors)?
NOTL Hydro has mutual assistance agreements with a number of other local distributors including members of the CHEC group and other Niagara-based distributors. Third party assistance was not required for this outage.
During the Major Event
- Please explain why this event was considered by the distributor to be a Major Event.
The event created an outage for the entire Town of Niagara-on-the-Lake. Using IEEE Standard 1366 the ln(SAIDA) was 4.32 versus a threshold of 2.58 based on the five years to the end of 2020.
- Was the IEEE Standard 1366 used to identify the scope of the Major Event? If not, why not?
- Please identify the Cause of Interruption for the Major Event as per the table in section 126.96.36.199.5.
Loss of Supply
- Were there any declarations by government authorities, regulators or the grid operator of an emergency state of operation in relation to the Major Event?
- When did the Major Event begin (date and time)?
The outage began at 1:49 AM on October 9, 2021.
- What percentage of on-call distributor staff was available at the start of the Major Event and utilized during the Major Event?
On the day of the major event, NOTL Hydro had five line staff on the on-call rotation with one person on-call at any one time. Two line staff and the Operations Supervisor ended up working on the call to restore the power. Senior management were also involved in the decision-making that was required at that time.
- Did the distributor issue any estimated times of restoration (ETR) to the public during the Major Event? If so, through what channels?
No estimated times of restoration were issued during the outage. A tweet was issued at 2:12 AM advising that the whole Town was out of power due to a transmission outage but no ETA was known at that time. A further tweet was provided at 3:09 AM advising that power was back on.
- If the distributor did issue ETRs, at what date and time did the distributor issue its first ETR to the public?
- Did the distributor issue any updated ETRs to the public? If so, how many and at what dates and times were they issued?
- Did the distributor inform customers about the options for contacting the distributor to receive more details about outage/restoration efforts? If so, please describe how this
No. However, NOTL Hydro responded to a number of retweets looking for further information. Contact information is available on the NOTL Hydro website.
- Did the distributor issue press releases, hold press conferences or send information to customers through social media notifications? If so, how many times did the distributor issue press releases, hold press conferences or send information to customers through social media notifications? What was the general content of this information?
A tweet was issued at 2:12 AM advising that the whole Town was out of power due to a transmission outage but no ETA was known at that time. A further tweet was provided at 3:09 AM advising that power was back on.
- What percentage of customer calls were dealt with by the distributor’s IVR system (if available) versus a live representative?
0%. After hours all calls are routed to a third-party call centre who use live operators.
- Did the distributor provide information about the Major Event on its website? If so, how many times during the Major Event was the website updated?
The NOTL Hydro website is automatically updated with any tweets. As such, the website was updated with the one tweet and all the retweets during the outage.
- Was there any point in time when the website was inaccessible? If so, what percentage of the total outage time was the website inaccessible?
The website was accessible through-out the outage.
- How many customers were interrupted during the Major Event? What percentage of the distributor’s total customer base did the interrupted customers represent?
100% of customers lost power (9,930) as this was a loss of supply.
- How many hours did it take to restore 90% of the customers who were interrupted?
- Was any distributed generation used to supply load during the Major Event?
- Were there any outages associated with Loss of Supply during the Major Event? If so, please report on the duration and frequency of Loss of Supply outages.
The entire outage was due to Loss of Supply. The duration was 1¼ hours.
- In responding to the Major Event, did the distributor utilize assistance through a third-party mutual assistance agreement?
No. No third-party assistance needed.
- Did the distributor run out of any needed equipment or materials during the Major Event? If so, please describe the shortages.
After the Major Event
- What steps, if any, are being taken to be prepared for or mitigate such Major Events in the future (i.e., staff training, process improvements, system upgrades)?
The only reason this event created an outage for the full Town of NOTL was due to the Ontario Energy Board rules. Distributors such as NOTL Hydro are billed for transmission based on the peak loads at each of their delivery points instead of the overall usage of the local grid. NOTL Hydro has two delivery points. In September, NOTL Hydro was informed by Hydro One that an outage would be required on the Q11S in October for maintenance work. The Q11S feeds the NOTL station. To avoid the transmission double billing, which would have cost our customers $80k, the NOTL station was taken offline for the month and all the load was put on our York station which is fed by the Hydro One Q12S.
In the early morning of October 9, 2021, the Q12S went down creating an outage for the full Town. The decision was immediately made to transfer all the power to the NOTL station even though the $80k cost would now be incurred.
If not for the OEB rules on transmission billing the Town would have been fed by both stations on October 9, 2021, so the outage would have only been half the Town and the restoration time would have been much quicker.
The OEB will be holding a hearing on this transmission double billing issue in 2022 and NOTL Hydro will be intervening and requesting a change to avoid situations like this.
- What lessons did the distributor learn in responding to the Major Event that will be useful in responding to the next Major Event?
NOTL Hydro has determined that it would take the same steps again to protect its customers against the double billing transmission costs even though this led to a bigger outage. One lesson, though it did not slow down the response this time, would be to reinforce to Operations Management that they do not need to get Executive approval to transfer to the other station to get the power back on even though that led to the higher transmission charges.
- Did the distributor survey its customers after the Major Event to determine the customers’ opinions of how effective the distributor was in responding to the Major Event? If so, please describe the results.