It’s been over three months since the city of Toronto was covered in a thick sheet of ice. An independent review panel is expected to report back sometime in May on Toronto Hydro’s response to the massive storm that left 400,000 people without power at its height. In the meantime Toronto Hydro CEO Anthony Haines told the Toronto Region Board of Trade on Monday that before that report even comes back there are obvious areas that need improvement.
“We’ve got to break the back of this question ‘how do you communicate with customers if they need to talk to you by phone?’”
Haines says that during the 10 days following the ice storm Toronto Hydro received 6-months worth of calls from customers, many of them just wanting to make sure the utility knew their power was out. But Haines says thanks to smart metres hydro crews know when your power is knocked out.
“It’s in our system. We actually have the visibility into their outage through the smart metre technologies and so we want to be able to push that information out through smart phones and other devices to let people know that we know. “said Haines.
The Toronto Hydro CEO says the utility is also looking at possibly getting other call centres at other utilities to help handle the volume of calls during an event like the ice storm.
“That’s not going to be the answer because the magnitude is so big, but it will help.”said Haines. Haines told the crowd that Toronto Hydro received 374,000 phone calls over the ten day period, which would have required 800 call takers to be on ‘stand by’. Haines said that even if every utility in the entire country made themselves available to Toronto Hydro, they still would have been able to only answer about half of those calls.
Anthony Haines says Toronto Hydro is also considering establishing a ‘Level 4’ emergency that would bring in additional workers to ‘triage’ the outages in order to provide more accurate estimates for when the power is expected to be restored to any given neighbourhood.