TORONTO, Oct. 16, 2012 /CNW/ - When the power goes out, it never happens at a convenient time. While it may seem simple - customers receive electricity to their homes via overhead or underground connections - it's more complicated when outdated equipment and design make the repair process long and difficult. One of the worst performing elements of the Toronto Hydro-Electric System Limited (Toronto Hydro) grid is rear-lot design; when electrical equipment is located in residential backyards instead of on the front-lot.
In hydro speak, 'rear-lot configuration' is an electricity distribution method that was intended to improve neighbourhood streetscapes. The design avoided placing poles and wires along the front-lot. The electrical cables were installed on easements between rear residential property lines. Fifty years ago, this was a popular design. Now, neighbourhood trees are mature and overgrown, homes have been rebuilt and are bigger, pools have been installed and raccoons and squirrels have become more of a nuisance.
Trees and four-legged pests, combined with adverse weather, can wreak havoc on rear-lot powerlines and poles. If a power outage occurs as a result, chances are the neighbourhood will experience an interruption for much longer than areas with front-lot designs.
During the past five years, a number of lengthy outages occurred that were attributable to rear-lot distribution. In 2010 and 2011, the average customer outage lasted approximately 48 minutes, but for rear-lot systems, the average was 109 minutes. Field crews can't use bucket trucks and drilling machines and in summer, easement spaces can be overgrown. In winter, snow can further impede access. At times, Toronto Hydro has had to move equipment over houses with the use of cranes to make rear-lot repairs. This adds cost and time and increases the risk that driveways and roads will sustain damage under the weight of heavy construction equipment.
There are more than 12,000 customers in Toronto that still receive power via a rear-lot design. In Forest Hill, Toronto Hydro has been working to update this infrastructure since 2008. It can take two to four years to complete a multimillion dollar, rear- lot to front- lot conversion project. It is expected that most of this project will be completed by the end of this year.
Toronto Hydro Corporation is a holding company, which wholly-owns two subsidiaries:
- Toronto Hydro-Electric System Limited - which distributes electricity and engages in Conservation and Demand Management (CDM) activities; and
- Toronto Hydro Energy Services Inc. - which provides street lighting services.
The principal business of the Corporation and its subsidiaries is the distribution of electricity by Toronto Hydro-Electric System Limited. Toronto Hydro-Electric System owns and operates an electricity distribution system, which delivers electricity to approximately 712,000 customers located in the City of Toronto. It is the largest municipal electricity distribution company in Canada and distributes approximately 18% of the electricity consumed in the Province of Ontario.
SOURCE: Toronto Hydro Corporation
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