Higher power: We’re on the job during winter storms

We can all remember a time when the lights have gone out. Maybe we woke up to the alarm clock flashing or had to trade the brightness of a lamp for the glow of candlelight over dinner. Many Ottawa residents can clearly remember a more severe time when they were without power for days or weeks, like during the January 1998 ice storm; named as one of the worst natural disasters in Canadian history.

With winter coming, powerful winter storms are on our radar. And with more people expected to work and spend more time at home this winter, we understand that unplanned power interruptions can have an even bigger impact on our daily lives.

Whether it’s a significant and destructive weather event like an ice storm or just a curious neighbourhood squirrel interfering with the lines, our job is to get the energy back so you can power your everyday life.

There’s a lot that goes on at an operational level to ensure this happens as safely and quickly as possible. We rely on talented personnel and complex systems to make sure the power is on across our service territory, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. That being said, outages do occur, oftentimes for reasons beyond our control.

After being alerted of an outage either via our outage management system or by our customers, we dispatch our crews to the area and notify customers through social media and by updating the information on our website via the Outage Centre. On our Twitter account in particular, you’ll find the information posted as we know it, oftentimes along with photos, video, and even livestreams. We don’t want to keep you in the dark when you’re already in the dark!

Once on site, crews investigate the cause, which can range from losing provincial grid supply or vehicle damage to equipment issues and more. Then, they estimate how long it will take to fix, which can be more difficult when the cause isn’t immediately evident or the outage is widespread.

During major interruptions, we prioritize repairs that pose serious safety hazards, and restoring power to critical infrastructure such as emergency services, hospitals, schools and larger neighbourhoods or communities of customers first. We then systematically move on to repair lines that are serving the largest number of customers and proceed until we are repairing and restoring individual customers in our community.

When disastrous power outages take place away from home, we’re there to help as well. As a proud member of the North Atlantic Mutual Assistance Group, Hydro Ottawa offers mutual aid to other utilities across the North Atlantic during times of crisis, lending skilled tradespeople and equipment on a not-for-profit basis. Our crews worked with restoration teams from Central Maine Power after a powerful storm ripped through the state of Maine in October 2019, and lent a hand in North Carolina following 2018’s Hurricane Florence.

Whether its in our backyard or in a neighbouring city, we’re on when your lights aren’t. So the next time you find yourself unable to charge your phone, know that our professionals, using proven processes, are hard at work.

Hydro Ottawa relies on customer calls to help pinpoint the cause of an outage and ultimately shorten our response time and the duration of the outage.There are times when we are unaware of outages until helpful customers notify us.

You can report an outage two different ways. Submit a report online through MyAccount or call our 24/7 outage line at 613-738-0188.

For more information, learn about outage safety here, visit our outage centre or watch this video detailing our restoration process.

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