Craig Smith was heading to Barrie on May 21 for the Victoria Day long weekend when he received the call. Smith is the Manager, Stations and System Control, Automation, and Stations for Elexicon Energy, and a colleague in Brampton told him there was a large thunderstorm coming in fast and moving east.
Lindsay Neelands, Elexicon Energy’s District Supervisor Brock - Gravenhurst, Field Operations was enjoying a sunny day at home when he received a similar call from Mississauga. Both men had seen the storm alerts and started to notify their teams to be on standby.
At that point, no one knew just how severe the storm would be. Within minutes it swept through Uxbridge, with widespread destruction and power outages. It was later confirmed an F2 tornado hit the area. Ajax and Whitby also sustained extensive damage, as did other Elexicon Energy service areas.
ACTIVATING THE EMERGENCY RESTORATION PLAN
Elexicon Energy immediately activated its comprehensive emergency restoration plan. Despite it being the holiday weekend, personnel across all departments responded to the crisis call.
Everyone’s top priority was to restore power to customers as quickly as possible, and they were committed to working around the clock.
The control room runs 24 hours a day, and additional staff came in to help. The customer care and communications teams worked together to relay information from customers to the control room so they could assess the power outages and damage to deploy field staff.
“The control room collaborates with field staff, helping to prioritize the work and determine where to go first,” said Smith. “We quickly got to the highest level of response with 64,000 customers out across the hardest hit areas.”
To meet the widespread power restoration demand, Elexicon Energy mobilized crews from its districts not impacted by the storm, as well as contractors and municipal partners to expedite power restoration.
Some areas required tree debris removal, powerline repairs and new transformers, and teams replaced 130 broken and downed poles. Neelands’s team worked 16-hour shifts, stopping only to eat and sleep before returning to work.
As a result, power was restored to over half of Elexicon Energy customers within 24 hours and to 90 per cent in 72 hours.
Click here to read Elexicon Energy’s feature cover story in the new fall issue of The Distributor.