The power impact of climate change

From Nanaimo to St. John’s, Canada has faced some severe winter conditions so far in 2020. And we’re still early in the season!

According to The Weather Network, we can continue to expect an increase in extreme weather events as a result of rising global temperatures.

Assessing risk is in the DNA of every utility when it comes to evaluating potential impacts to customers and the electricity system. So it’s perhaps not surprising that utilities across the country are storm-hardening their equipment and systems in preparation for more storms caused by climate change.

In the past three years alone, Ottawa has had its share of extreme weather events. With multiple wind storms, two ice storms, six tornadoes and two “hundred-year” floods. We know these changes are affecting many aspects of our lives, from agriculture to real estate, but there’s a rising trend in the frequency and duration of power outages as a result of extreme weather.

These natural events can cause extensive damage to our city’s electrical infrastructure, as well as limit access to resources that are used to produce electricity (the 2017 and 2019 floods forced a shutdown of our hydroelectric operations at Chaudière Falls for the first and second time in our 100-year history).

At Hydro Ottawa, we are committed to making our infrastructure more robust in the face of future weather challenges. Undertaking a number of initiatives to improve the resiliency of the system when storms occur, customers can feel secure knowing that we are proactively taking action to keep the lights on.

Based on key learnings from the extreme weather the capital has experienced these last few years, we have updated and modernized our emergency preparedness plans, and are in the process of completing a Climate Vulnerability Risk Assessment plan. By studying the impact of climate change on our systems to date, we are better informed to identify infrastructure that is most at risk, and plan accordingly.

For instance, information from major weather events attributed to climate change was used to assess our overhead design standards, resulting in aging or vulnerable equipment being strengthened, made more resilient or replaced. And clearing overhanging branches from our lines ensures past risks or issues don’t reoccur.

No matter the weather, Hydro Ottawa is ensuring climate change is considered in all its decision-making practices to ensure reliable power for the future.

 

Did you know?

In addition to being the largest municipally-owned producer of green power in the province, our commitment to environmental sustainability in all aspects of our business has earned us the honour of Canada’s Greenest Employers eight times.
 

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