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Outage Causes and Prevention- Statement to Customers

We recognize there has been an increase in occurrences of brief and sustained power outages in our service territories and can assure you that we are working to fix this issue and reduce the number of outages that occur. We understand and hear your concerns and apologize for the inconvenience these frequent outages have caused.

Unfortunately, certain causes of outages are beyond our control. This past month, we’ve experience adverse weather events that have led to multiple outages in the LaSalle and Tecumseh region. Adverse weather events include, but are not limited to high winds, extreme bouts of heat and cold, and lightning storms. Traditional power systems are designed to operate in stable weather conditions and patterns. With the ongoing challenge of climate change, we have noticed severe weather events occurring more frequently, and therefore have been subject to increased outages. This is an issue that has been recognized across the province. For instance, the frequency of extreme hot weather patterns has resulted in an increase in peak load and excess strain on the network. Essentially, the warm days and nights don’t allow for proper cooling of the equipment, which in turn, can cause an increased potential for failure.

To help resolve the current issue, we are continuing to implement the following:

  1. We have engaged Hydro One in order to formulate an Action Plan and identify opportunities that we can mutually agree on. I can assure you that Essex Powerlines and Hydro One are working collaboratively towards solutions.
  2. We have immediately assessed our equipment through infrared technology to determine any potential hot spots in the M4 feeder. The IR technology will help us in determining a potential root cause of the momentary outages that have been occurring in LaSalle. Any issues identified will be prioritized and addressed through equipment replacement or modification.
  3. Essex Powerlines conducts vegetation management on primary and secondary lines on an annual basis. Vegetation management includes, but is not limited to tree branch trimming and vine cutting. This program is important in helping mitigate power outages caused by vegetation interference with our electrical distribution system. Due to COVID-19, the contracted work has ceased, however, we expect to restart with our LaSalle vegetation management plan on August 7, 2020.

We understand our customers expect a reliable power supply, and we have been working to achieve this through installing and updating equipment such as sensors, monitors, communications, automation and computers to improve the flexibility, reliability and efficiency of our electricity system. Equipment updates include line monitoring units, automatic reclosers, and wholesale meters.

The implementation of smart reclosers allows EPLC to facilitate the capabilities of remote operation, real-time outage detection, as well as the ability to isolate iteslf from an upstream distribution/transmitter. Essentially what this means is that, if an incidence such as a lightning strike, animal contract or tree contract occurs, the system will perform a “momentary outage”. This momentary outage allows a temporary fault or problem on the distribution system to clear, then “automatically” restores power. An auto recloser (AR), or momentary outage, prevents prolonged power outages and more damage to the distribution system. We fully appreciate that these AR’s are frustrating but are necessary in preventing further damage and eliminating extended outage periods.

In addition, Essex Powerlines has been performing “planned” outages in its service territories. Planned outages are necessary for our crews to safely perform upgrades, maintenance, and repair to our power system. These planned outages are essential so we can ensure reliability of the grid.

As your local distribution company, we promise to work towards creating a better, more resilient grid. We take pride in serving our customers and understand the frustration our customers are currently experiencing. We assure you that we are fully transparent about power outages and will put proper communications and tools in place. We take our customers’ concerns very seriously and appreciate their efforts in highlighting and communicating this issue to us openly and effectively. This information has been very constructive and helping guide our future outage communication plans.
Thank you for your continued patience as we work to provide you reliable and safe power.

Joe Barile
General Manager
Essex Powerlines Corporation