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Councillor Kelly's Letter To Hydro One About Service and Communication in West Carleton

David Lebeter, President and CEO of Hydro One

CC: Bryce Conrad, President and Chief Executive Officer of Hydro Ottawa

Bernie Ashe, Chair of Hydro Ottawa

Todd Smith, Ontario Minister of Energy

Dear Mr. Lebeter:

CC: Mr. Conrad, Mr. Ashe, Mr. Smith

I write to you today both in my capacity as City of Ottawa Councillor for West Carleton-March and as a frustrated customer of Hydro One.

The people living in this community are mainly served by Hydro One and are generally understanding of the fact that power outages can and often do occur during adverse weather events. They also understand the need to shut down parts of the grid periodically for maintenance and troubleshooting.

However, twice in the span of two weeks we have experienced abrupt and hours-long power outages with no obvious reason or explanation communicated to our residents in advance of or following the outages.

Many customers received the standard text updates which never include a reason for the outage. One of my constituents received a text message at 8:00pm telling him that his power would be restored by 7:11pm. Customers visiting the Hydro One webpage see the cause was listed as “Performance Switching,” while others received messages with a different cause listed as “Planned Emergency Outage”.

We are left thinking there have either been two outages requiring emergency shutdowns of our grid in the span of two weeks, or there have been two planned outages that were not communicated to the public so they could properly prepare. Either scenario is unacceptable to the ratepayers of Hydro One in West Carleton-March and they deserve an explanation.

If it is the case that these outages were planned or even if you knew they may be possible, you should have communicated that to all impacted customers. You have every customer’s email, phone number and/or address and there are more ways than ever to reach people. No one should be caught off guard by a planned or probable outage. This has a very real impact on the lives of thousands of rural residents.

If these outages were not planned, then I believe some explanation and some serious work on your communications is required. Answers to Hydro One customer questions and concerns would also be welcomed, especially with regards to the following:

·        Why has our power been cut off twice in two weeks with no notice?

·        What is “Performance Switching”?

·        What does a “planned Emergency Outage” even mean?

·        Why are your customer service people on the phone providing different information than your webpage or your text alerts?

These are not unreasonable questions – not after thousands of paying customers have been left in the dark multiple times with no explanation. I, along with the constituents of West Carleton-March, look forward to hearing the answers and on how you will better serve them in the future.

We deserve better.

Kind regards,

Clarke Kelly

City of Ottawa Councillor

Ward 5, West Carleton-March




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