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Powering Forward: Toronto Hydro Marks Tenth Anniversary of Ice Storm

TORONTO, Dec. 19, 2023 /CNW/ - Toronto Hydro is reflecting on the tenth anniversary of the 2013 ice storm that left Toronto in the dark over the holidays and on what has been done to prepare for the next extreme weather event.

Over the last decade, Toronto Hydro has made significant improvements to harden its electrical infrastructure, modernize its grid capabilities, and ensure staff have the training and tools to manage emergencies effectively.

Following the 2013 ice storm, Toronto Hydro acted quickly to do the following:

  • Establish a permanent and dedicated emergency management team
  • Apply new equipment to help restore power more quickly and limit damage to overhead equipment, such as breakaway wires
  • Increase proactive maintenance to prepare for a storm, including tree trimming and inspection of vaults that may be at risk of flooding
  • Introduce new ways for customers to report outages and receive updates, such as an interactive outage map and email alerts
  • Increase customer awareness about emergency preparedness and the process for power restoration

In addition, Toronto Hydro recognizes the importance of being a leader in climate adaption and continues to take steps to be better prepared for more frequent extreme weather events due to climate change. This work includes the development of its own Climate Action Plan — the first of its kind by a utility in Canada — to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions and meet the growing need for electrification. The utility has also completed two industry-leading climate adaption studies to help inform its construction and maintenance plans to ensure its equipment can withstand more extreme weather.

By factoring in climate projections for temperature, rainfall, wind and freezing rain, Toronto Hydro is able to identify and proactively find solutions for equipment and areas of the city that may be more vulnerable to climate change, such as aging infrastructure and overhead equipment that are close to the canopy of a tree. This also allows the utility to increase the number of crews available, where needed, to respond more effectively to predicted weather events.

Toronto Hydro also continues to make great strides in incorporating new technologies to build a more intelligent and resilient grid, and improve its level of customer service. For example, the introduction of automated sensors and switches allows the utility to monitor, predict and control the flow of electricity across the system to help reduce the number of outages and restore power faster. Customers also have more options to engage with the utility and be kept up to date during outages, including a power outage live chat; email and SMS outage notifications; as well as an updated interactive outage map with information on when an outage began, estimated time of restoration and status of crews.

Moving forward, Toronto Hydro is focused on: (a) investments that will support the growing need for electrification; (b) replacing aging and obsolete equipment; and (c) building a smarter, more efficient and reliable grid that adds further protection from extreme events, such as severe weather and cyber attacks.

To learn about Toronto Hydro's plans to continue powering Canada's largest city safely and reliably for years to come, please visit www.torontohydro.com/investmentplan.


  • In December 2013, Toronto Hydro declared a Level 3 Emergency due to the ice storm, which resulted in the utility suspending normal work hours and opening its emergency operation centre
  • The ice storm consisted of 40+ hours of freezing rain and 30+ millimetres of ice, leaving a total of 416,000 customers without power, 500 wires down and two million trees damaged
  • 73,000 metres of service wire and 80,000 pieces of hardware were replaced due to damage from the ice storm
  • Restoration efforts included 1,250 Toronto Hydro employees, including 98 per cent of the utility's core trade workers, in addition to support from utility peers
  • Toronto Hydro was able to restore power to around 75 per cent of impacted customers within about 48 hours once conditions were safe to do so
  • Toronto Hydro is a contributing partner of the City of Toronto's Emergency Management Working Group and has contributed to studies, workshops and exercises covering a number of climate change scenarios (e.g. high winds, flooding, extended high-temperature days)
  • Toronto Hydro has established formal mutual assistance partnerships, including North Atlantic Mutual Assistance Group
  • Toronto Hydro leverages weather services and outage prediction tools from IBM's The Weather Company, including weather forecasting dashboards, reports and consultation from a meteorologist, as well as outage prediction software


"Over the past decade, Toronto Hydro has made significant investments in our distribution system, electrical infrastructure, and emergency management processes, as well as training and tools, to ensure we're ready to respond effectively to the next inevitable extreme weather event. We are ready to serve our customers when the next storm hits."

- Daniel McNeil, Corporate Spokesperson


The Corporation is a holding company which wholly owns two subsidiaries:

  • Toronto Hydro-Electric System Limited (THESL) – distributes electricity; and
  • Toronto Hydro Energy Services Inc. – provides streetlighting and expressway lighting services in the city of Toronto

The principal business of the Corporation and its subsidiaries is the distribution of electricity by THESL, which owns and operates the electricity distribution system for Canada's largest city. Recognized as a Sustainable Electricity Leader™ by Electricity Canada, it has approximately 791,000 customers located in the city of Toronto and distributes approximately 18 per cent of the electricity consumed in Ontario.


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SOURCE Toronto Hydro Corporation