Outrage over outages continues

UP A POLE: Upgrades to the hydroelectric infrastructure are among reasons given by Toronto Hydro for Davisille-area power outages.

The power outages that have been aggravating Davisville Village residents since May have continued, despite promises from Toronto Hydro that they would be minimized after September.

About 60 percent of the outages have been caused by weather and “foreign interference,” such as squirrels and raccoons, Toronto Hydro has said.

However, Hydro communications director Brian Buchan told the Town Crier outages will remain a risk while the company continues upgrading the neighbourhood’s infrastructure — a $19-million project currently being delayed while the company waits for an application to be approved by the Toronto Energy Board.

Inconsistent explanations and the failure to provide residents with concrete timelines have been a constant source of irritation for Ward 22 councillor Josh Matlow.

“I cannot tell you how many Saturday mornings I’ve had to not only reset my clocks, but then respond to countless emails and tweets from residents who had gone through the same thing before getting breakfast ready for my family,” said Matlow, a Davisville resident himself.

“If they’re improving infrastructure, reasonable people get that. We want our infrastructure improved,” he said. “But literally leaving everyone in the dark about why it’s happening, while hiking rates and not providing us with effective service, is unreasonable.”

In September, Hydro officials told the Town Crier the infrastructure project’s third phase, which involved upgrading one of the neighbourhood’s 1950s-era electrical feeders, had been the main reason for the outages, since there were temporarily no backup systems to maintain electricity during minor disruptions.

That work is complete, communications director Buchan says now, and Davisville Village’s electrical systems are expected to remain stable in the future, even as the project’s next three phases will include replacing other feeders in the neighbourhood and are likely to continue through 2016.

“Momentary blackouts are still a risk, and inconvenient for sure,” he said. “But they are also an example of the system protecting itself in an area that has a lot of trees and potential animal contact.”

Buchan said Toronto Hydro would be happy to organize a public meeting in Ward 22.

However, the project application must be approved by the Toronto Energy Board before Hydro can provide customers or city staff with a timeline, he said.

“It’s been delayed. We’re still waiting,” Buchan said. “Unfortunately we have no control over when they provide us with that information.”