Electrical Business

Business News
Guelph Hydro concerned about vulnerability of electricity supply in Guelph


November 30, 2012
By Anthony Capkun

November 30, 2012 – Guelph Hydro Electric Systems Inc. believes the addition of a new Hydro One transmission line in Guelph is critically needed to meet the increasing demand for electricity in the growing community, reduce outage frequency and improve the resiliency of the electricity system to deal with extreme conditions. Energy conservation and local generation are also part of the solution.

The utility says Ontario Power Authority (OPA), Hydro One, Ontario’s Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO) and local electricity distribution companies (LDCs) have developed plans to ensure an adequate and reliable supply of electricity to growing communities in the Kitchener-Waterloo-Cambridge-Guelph area. These plans consider an integrated mix of energy conservation, local generation and upgraded transmission.

Earlier this year, OPA advised Hydro One that transmission upgrades are needed to ensure an adequate and reliable supply of electricity to Guelph. Hydro One’s plan is to reinforce the system with a new high-voltage transmission line slated for completion in 2015.

As a result of rapid economic growth in Guelph, the utility says the transmission system feeding the community is currently running close to, or at, maximum capacity during peak usage periods. Without adequate capacity in its electricity supply, Guelph is in a vulnerable position, says Guelph Hydro, adding it is concerned that equipment failure or severe weather—such as an ice storm or heat wave—coupled with a peak demand period could result in rotating blackouts or prolonged power outages.

“We all want to know that when we flip a switch, the light goes on,” said Barry Chuddy, CEO of Guelph Hydro Inc. Already, Guelph has been experiencing an increasing number of power outages caused by upstream transmission failures says the utility.

“Power failures caused by lightning strikes, cars knocking down poles or wildlife interference in our community account for only a small portion the power outages experienced by our customers,” said Chuddy. “So far this year, customers who experienced a power outage were without power for 68 minutes on average; of this, 55 minutes were the result of power failures on the transmission system upstream of Guelph. Once the Hydro One transmission system is upgraded, that hour or so of power outages will be significantly reduced.”

To mitigate the increasing demand for power in the growing community of Guelph, residents and businesses must also continue to do their part to drive down energy consumption, says the utility. Guelph Hydro says it offers a variety of energy conservation programs and rebates to customers to encourage them to cut back.

New sources of renewable or high-efficiency power generation—including solar, bioenergy and combined heat and power—also need to be developed within the community, says Guelph Hydro, as detailed in the Guelph Community Energy Initiative. Currently, 171 solar installations on the rooftops of homes, schools, churches, and businesses, including Guelph Hydro, generate more than 5 MW of electricity for the grid.

“Hydro One transmission upgrades are only one part of the solution to electricity supply problem in the region,” said Chuddy. “We need an integrated mix of solutions that includes upgraded transmission, energy conservation and local generation. There are three legs to this stool, and we require all of them to move forward to ensure a stable supply of power is available to meet community needs.”

CLICK HERE for more information about the Guelph Area Transmission Refurbishment project.