Nearly a year after a destructive derecho wind storm levelled large swathes  of Peterborough city and county and other south-central Ontario areas, the  provincial government is directing the Ontario Energy Board to carry out  consultations on proposals to strengthen the reliability of Ontario’s  electricity grid. 

The OEB is the province’s independent regulator of Ontario’s electricity and  natural gas sectors. 

The OEB aims to provide Energy Minister Todd Smith with advice this summer,  including how best to make sure Ontario families and businesses have access to  dependable electricity in the face of a rise in extreme weather events. 

“Disruptions to electricity supply caused by extreme weather create  significant financial and safety risks for Ontarians,” Smith stated in a press  release. 

“Our government is ensuring that Ontario’s electricity system continues to  adapt to these changing conditions so that it remains resilient and continues to  deliver reliable electricity to families and businesses both now and in the  future”

Energy infrastructure, particularly electricity, is an invaluable resource  that plays a crucial role in enabling infrastructure that “protects the most  vulnerable, including health care, telecommunications, water and food,”  according to the release. 

In recent years, parts of the province have been hit hard by major  storms.

On May 21, 2022, an  extremely powerful windstorm ripped through southern Ontario — and the  Peterborough area was not spared. 

The unforgiving derecho left parts of Peterborough city, along with several  badly hit areas across the county, devastated.

Sheared trees toppled onto homes and vehicles, and in  most Peterborough County townships, the trail of destruction resulted in  downed power lines and road closures, leading to widespread  power outages for residents, in some cases, for several days, after a large  tower on the main line feeding power to the Peterborough area from the south was  toppled by the storm. 

Peterborough city, county and several townships declared a state of emergency  in the wake of the storm. 

In  the Jack Lake area — cottagers in both North Kawartha Township and  Havelock-Belmont-Methuen Township were severely impacted by the storm — residents  were left frustrated, angry and feeling abandoned by elected officials,  claiming they received next to no help during the cleanup process. 

After Smith’s direction to the OEB last year, it released a draft report  highlighting resilience measures and is now working with local utilities and  other electricity service providers on what the next steps could be to boost  resilience and responsiveness, while keeping an eye on cost efficiencies,” the  provincial release stated. 

Increasing redundancies in the grid, ensuring equipment is on hand,  reinforcing poles in areas prone to damage and the deployment of automated  components to instantly pinpoint where crews are needed are among the measures  outlined in the report. 

“With a generational energy transition underway, alongside the prospect of  increased severe weather events, this project has significant importance,”  stated Susanna Zagar, chief executive officer of the Ontario Energy Board. 

“We are in this together and, with consumers in our focus, we are working  with our stakeholders toward the creation of a road map to achieve greater grid  resiliency.”

Ontario’s demand for electricity continues to surge as a result of  electrification and economic growth, so the provincial government is aiming to  take steps to protect its grid. 

“The power needs to be there when families and businesses in  Peterborough-Kawartha flip the switch,” stated Dave Smith, MPP for  Peterborough—Kawartha. 

“I’m glad our government is thinking ahead and preparing for extreme weather  events now, to provide families and businesses with the peace of mind they need  to ensure the continued growth of Ontario’s economy and access to reliable,  affordable and clean electricity.” 

May 2022’s EF-2  derecho, which impacted the country’s most densely populated region — the  Windsor-Quebec City corridor — has been characterized by meteorologists as one  of the most impactful storms in Canadian history.

By Brendan Burke, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Original Published on Apr 26, 2023 at 17:02

This item reprinted with permission from   The Peterborough Examiner   Peterborough, Ontario
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