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Ice storm damage cost Toronto Hydro $12.9M

On Hanna Road in Leaside, a Toronto Hydro truck repairs downed wires, covered in ice on Dec. 22, 2013. CITYNEWS

After losing nearly $13-million during the ice storm, Toronto Hydro officials hope they can recoup the loss without delving into the pockets of taxpayers.

The ice storm damage has cost the utility precisely $12.9 million, the utility’s CEO Anthony Haines said during a news conference on Thursday.

About $1 million of that was in lost revenue. Toronto Hydro hopes to absorb the costs without a rate increase to customers.

Toronto Hydro received 127,000 calls in the first day of the ice storm, far above its call centre capacity. In those first 24 hours, the utility received 500 calls for downed wires. There were a lot of equipment fires in the early hours.

The storm triggered 374,000 calls to the utility over 10 days, which is equal to what the utility would normally see over six months.

Twitter was key to getting the ice storm messages out, with the utility sending 1,000 original messages and 20,000 retweets.

When asked if Toronto Hydro can bury lines to protect them from storm damage, Haines said that would cost $15 billion and it’s not practical. The utility says the cost of burying lines would mean a 300 per cent increase in customer hydro rates.

As a result of the storm recovery, Toronto Hydro is putting together a four-member expert panel to learn from ice storm and plot future response.

Storm cleanup

The ice storm hit Toronto and much of southern Ontario on Dec. 21, 2013.  Some residents were without power for 12 days.

All outages were restored on Jan. 1, Toronto Hydro said.

To date, the cost of the storm is approximately $106 million, city officials said in a report Wednesday. Mayor Rob Ford said he plans to ask the province for financial compensation through the Ontario Disaster Relief Assistance Program.

City workers began clearing debris, like fallen trees, last Friday. Over 600 city staff and contractors will work 12-hour days, seven days a week, cutting and removing fallen branches from 5,300 kilometres of roads.