Toronto Hydro looking at improving call centres in wake of ice storm

Anthony Haines says partnership with other utilties is one idea

As Toronto Hydro crews continue to deal with the aftermath of the ice storm, questions are being asked about what could be done to avoid similar situations in the future.

"There's no doubt learnings to be had," Toronto Hydro CEO Anthony Haines said at a Saturday morning press conference at city hall. "We'll do the proper post-mortem at the end of all of it to see if we can get better at what we've done."

One of the things Haines is thinking about is beefing up call centres so they can take more calls during similar events.

"We have 3,000 calls that we can manage in a day and on the peak we had 128,000 calls come in," he said.

But it's not just a question of adding more people, he said. "That would be a very costly approach."

Instead, Haines said a unified approach with other utilities, similar to what's being done with front line workers, could be one solution.

"Could we create something like a virtual call centre between utilities across a large footprint so that when we need extra help during a storm, maybe the phones in Manitoba could actually be ringing."

At this point, this is just an idea and Haines said Toronto Hydro will go through the official process once things get back to normal.

As far as pruning and technology improvements, Haines says the utility has already made some changes, as part of discussions with the city on climate change and how it affects tree canopies and overhead systems.

"That's a conversation that's been going on for a long time," he said. "We've actually been implementing the strategies associated with our pruning approach as well as the technologies that we're using - the cables we're using are actually more resilient to storms."

He says one of the things he'll be interested in hearing about is what kind of effects those changes have had.

"We'll to a proper process at the end of it and learned many things no doubt."


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  1. karen posted on 12/28/2013 04:07 PM
    It figures. Actual harm prevention does not seem to even be on the radar. How about much more aggressive preventative tree trimming. Getting every home to buy a $200 generator? Developing water repellent sprays for trees and wires, and developing non-stick hydro wire coverings that will not hold icicles of any kind?
    1. Karl B. posted on 12/28/2013 09:51 PM
      @karen You`re not really that stupid to believe this are you?
    2. SCOTT posted on 12/28/2013 10:02 PM
      @karen Who will pay for this? Generators are over $1000 for the ones that your homework, please.
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  3. Neo posted on 12/31/2013 08:21 PM
    Lets take some of haines' $900,000+ salary and use it towards real maintenance and front line staff. The salaries of TH management is criminal. This last crisis has shown us how poorly managed things truly are, yet they earn exhorbitant salaries and bonuses. Ten day outage while they earn nearly $1 million a year???
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