On the one year anniversary of the massive ice storm that hit the GTA, Toronto Hydro’s president and CEO says they are in better shape than ever to handle weather events.
The massive ice storm that hit the GTA on Dec. 21, 2013, downed power lines and left 600,000 customers in Ontario without power. It cost the GTA an estimated $275 million, including $106 million for Toronto.
Anthony Haines said that lessons were definitely learned from the storm and that improvements have been made in the way customers can report outages.
Over a 24 hour period during the storm Toronto Hydro’s phone lines were jammed with 128,000 calls – compared to the average of approximately 3,000 a day.
“If that storm happened today everybody calling would be able to get through into our computer systems and be able to register their outage through a voice response system,” said Haines. “That, as a starting point, provides the customers with much better access to the corporation than they had last year at this time.”
Improvements have also been made to the Toronto Hydro website to allow customers to record outages through their smartphones.
Haines said that although there is little chance a storm of that magnitude will hit the GTA again any time soon, Toronto Hydro is making sure its workers are prepared.
“We have emergency response drills that we do to ensure that we are ready at all times,” he explained. “We’ll continue to learn as weather events hit us and I’m sure (we’ll) find things that will continue to need improvements.”
In January, the utility commissioned the Toronto Hydro Independent Review Panel to look at how it handled the pre-Christmas storm and areas that needed improvement.
In June the panel presented a report with recommendations which included both updating emergency response plans and developing the capacity to provide customers timely access to report and obtain critical information related to their outage during day-to-day as well as large-scale outages.
Haines said that he feels very confident with the changes they have made to improve service.
“I have a big smile on my face this year versus where I was last year at this time,” Haines said with a laugh.