Our mission is to deliver reliable power, safely and efficiently. Through the systematic monitoring of reliability statistics, issues and root causes we continually strive to improve the reliability of our electricity distribution system.
The Alectra Utilities (formerly PowerStream) distribution system is valued at more than $1.3 billion (2014) and consists of 11 transformer stations connected to the provincial transmission system, 54 municipal substations, more than 5,000 kilometers of underground cable, more than 2,500 kilometers of overhead circuit wires and more than 44,000 transformers.
Types of Outages
Outages may last a few seconds or a few hours, depending on the cause. There are two major categories of power outages, Momentary or Sustained, depending on the duration. In addition to these two types of outages, there are also planned power interruptions that are required for certain types of maintenance and repairs on the system. In these cases, Alectra Utilities notifies affected customers prior to the interruption.
A Momentary Outage is defined as a brief power interruption lasting one minute or less, but typically is only one or two seconds. While momentary outages are inconvenient, the automatic equipment on the Alectra Utilities distribution system helps to prevent longer duration outages.
A Sustained Outage is defined as a power interruption that lasts longer than one minute and may require Alectra Utilities staff to be dispatched to fix the problem. The time required to restore the power is dependent on many factors, but is often restored within hours.
The most common causes of power outages are adverse weather (storms, tree contact and snow), animal contact, equipment failure and planned power interruptions. These and other common causes are defined further below.
Strong storms (high winds, snow and ice) can cause trees, branches or other objects to fall on power lines resulting in outages. Lightning storms can damage distribution equipment, also resulting in power outages.
Animals such as birds, squirrels and raccoons from time to time come into contact with a piece of energized electrical equipment, resulting in a power outage.
Occasionally, underground cables get damaged by individuals who accidentally dig into them. This can lead to a power outage. It is the law to call before you dig. Cable failures are difficult and timely to repair.
Alectra Utilities inspects and maintains its equipment on a regular basis, however sometimes equipment can reach its end of life prior to us replacing it. This can result in an outage depending on the nature of the equipment.
Alectra Utilities notifies the customer in advance of any power interruptions due to planned maintenance or plant upgrade activity. Our Customer Care department works with affected customers to plan the outage around their schedules in order to minimize disruption.
Vehicle collisions with utility poles or equipment can cause outages.
We work year round to maintain, repair and upgrade the Alectra Utilities electricity distribution system. Some of the more common programs we execute on a cycle or as needed basis are as follows:
Tree trimming program to proactively identify and manage vegetation growth that may come into contact with overhead power lines.
Visually inspect power lines and equipment to identify issues and take preventive measures before they fail.
Install lightning arrestors to prevent damage to equipment due to lightning strikes.
Install animal guards on our equipment to prevent animal contacts.
Install switches to sectionalize feeder circuits into smaller segments and deploy distribution automation and smart grid practices.
Collect outage information and statistics that allow us to pinpoint problem areas in the system. We analyze outages and implement corrective measures as required. This may include: additional tree trimming, maintenance activities on a particular power line or area, system reconfiguration, installing automatic devices, building new infrastructure or replacing end of life equipment.
Who's Involved in Improving System Reliability at Alectra Utilities?
Operations and Construction; Engineering Design, System Planning and Standards; Transformer Stations and Substations Planning and Design; Customer Service and Key Accounts; and Smart Grid and New Technologies are all involved in improving the reliability of the Alectra Utilities distribution system and maximizing the performance of these valuable assets.