How utilities prepare for emergencies

When powering more than 353,000 homes and businesses for the capital city of a G7 country, the pressure is always on for us to be prepared for any emergency that can cause widespread and prolonged power outages.

Do major weather events like the 1998 ice storm or the 2018 tornados come to mind? Not only are outages like these incredibly difficult and complex to restore, but they also present increased risk for the community and other critical city services.Here is how we prepare to be emergency ready - and how you can too.

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Practice makes perfect

Employees at Hydro Ottawa are trained throughout the year by participating in real-life simulations of a potential crisis. From regular occurrences such as adverse weather - to other threats like cybersecurity or risk to community health and safety like a pandemic - we have an Emergency Response Plan that covers a wide variety of scenarios. This is to ensure we are prepared to quickly and effectively assess the situation and allocate resources; prioritize efforts according to health and safety risks, impacts to our community’s essential services (hospitals, schools) and densely populated areas; and meet the information needs of our employees, customers, key stakeholders and the public from when the power goes out and until it is restored.

24-hour crews

One of the many ways we provide our city with safe, reliable power is with our 24-hour personnel. 

At Hydro Ottawa, system operators in our Control Center are on duty 24/7, monitoring the grid and potentially dangerous weather patterns to ensure the integrity and security of Ottawa’s distribution system. By being proactive, they can help minimize the duration and impact of power outages. Field operators are dedicated to emergency response, outage restoration and single customer calls, as needed. A complement of on-call staff, contractors and specialists, such as arborists, are available to support after hours should a situation arise. Together, our skilled personnel safeguard our system, and keep the lights on for our customers no matter the time of day or night. 

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Innovative technology

Due to new technologies such as smart devices, communications systems and ongoing infrastructure upgrades, we have ever increasing monitoring and control capabilities, both in the field and in our Control Center.  

Automation, digitization and process improvements are key as we work towards modernizing our Outage Management System. The self-healing grid, as we are aptly calling it, is a prime example of how we can enable automations of field devices to restore power automatically. This will allow field crews to focus on repairs and will result in significantly reduced outage restoration times for our customers.

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How our customers can be prepared

Knowing the risks specific to your area can help you prepare for emergencies - even when we least expect them. Here are some quick links to help you get started: 

Submit your outage report online through your MyAccount customer portal, via our mobile app or by calling our 24/7 outage hotline at 613-738-0188. 

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