Did Blackout 2003 Affect You


Change Agent and Data Storyteller
Super Moderator
Claes Gefvenberg said:
Strange? How do you mean? Don't they like ice cubes?

Guess they'd rather play Bambi then Nanook of the North. ;)

Of course, the lack of power and AC prompted an indepth conversation on how to stay cool with your significant other. I knew I should have taken notes!!! :cool:

It's amazing how much you can learn about your coworkers when the computers aren't up and running!

On the plus side, finally had power restored at my place on Friday evening (according to my neighbours). But I continued to remain with my parents - much cooler with all the trees and I got to do a few practice walks with my Mom.

Toronto subways were up and running at 0600 today, but the Canadian National Exhibition has been delayed until tomorrow.

I find it amazing, however, that with the request for industries and residents to take whatever steps they can to reduce power by 50% until the grid has stabilized, there are STILL wasters out there! :mad:

I was driving to my gym this morning (0530...the very beginning of rush hour commuters heading to Toronto). The commuters head north, I head south. And the movie ad screen, which faces in my direction so only I can see it, was on. The commuters never see it at that time of day. No one is heading in my direction. What's the point?

Stores that aren't even opening for another 3 - 4 hours have their signs blazing and their interiors lit up for us 0530 window shoppers?!?! What's the point?

Massive rain storm on Saturday, cool nights, dewy mornings....and sprinklers on full tilt so that they're getting more road than lawn. What's the point?

It sounds like an informal "snitch" line has started to rat out industries/companies that are wasting resources. No idea how effective it will be, though.

And, the numbers from this morning came in. Morning energy use was 25% less than normal today. Sounds great! Except that we were asked to drop our consumption by 50%.

My company has still not started up manufacturing, although, I believe we will be tomorrow as the nuclear reactors should be online today (knock on wood) and they provide 30% - 40% of my province's power. We are shipping. AC's are off or set at higher temperatures. Overhead lights are out once again...causing massive eye strain with my monitor glaring at me and my desk lamp in the corner of one eye.

There is already talk that electricity rates will need to rise so that the modernization of the grid can be paid for. They have not even 100% identified the cause, but already talks of solutions are being bandied about.

I'm curious, too, if anyone has talked to the Quebec government. With the Ice Storm of '98 causing that millions in that province and about 300,000 in Ontario (myself, my grandfather, and my aunts were part of that last group) to go without power from 5 min - 3 weeks, the Quebec government looked at and actually took steps to make their grid more robust.

The causes between then and now are most likely 180 degrees different, but the solutions could have some similarities.

I don't know if Quebec raised prices. But I think that the joint Canadian/US task force for Blackout 2003 could benefit from a meeting with Quebec's people that made the french province's electrical grid just that much stronger.


Change Agent and Data Storyteller
Super Moderator
JRKH said:
Another theory -- This may be the result of another Red Green Handyman's corner project.
Remember - "If the women don't find you handsome they should at least find you handy."


Hmmm...maybe some duct tape could have saved the day (and night) in this case! :)

Laura M

Where was I?

As it turns out I was golfing in a league of mostly Rochester Gas and Electric people (Now called Energy East) Cell phone went off and golf carts took off for the club house.

As has been stated - nice bon fire, drinks, 'candlelight' etc. My youngest was in Cooperstown NY (Baseball Hall of Fame) and in an old house/converted motel. Without flashlights and candle stashes, I guess it was kind of creepy - old stairways and sweaky doors.

We were back up by 2AM Friday morning. No real impact here.

Randy Stewart

Some of these people around here really scared me. I went to the store on Friday looking for some ice and there was a young women walking through the parking lot saying over and over "gotta buy some water, gotta buy some water"! Her hands were shaking and I thought she was going to go crazy. I don't know, some of them seemed like Chicken Little out there running around in circles. Then you see the big cars and SUVs sitting in line at the gas station, people yelling and with that shocked look on their faces, it amazed me. A bunch of them just didn't have a clue what to do.
I took my little girl on a bike ride Friday and just watched the people go nuts. It could have been worse I know, but we just seem to have it too easy here.
I've already heard people at work talking about stocking up for the next one and getting ready for a terrorist attack since now they know how to hit us, etc. You know, my aunt and uncle still have MRE's from when they stocked up for Y2K! :bonk:


I heard similar stories about people not being able to cope, rushing to the stores and gas stations, yelling, and no patience.

Our neighborhood had a meeting and we checked on some of our older citizens. Everyone seemed pretty calm. A patrolman came by and reassured everyone it was just a simple power outage and not a terrorist attack.

I generally maintain a stock of 6 gallons of water and enough canned foods for a few days. I have been through too many power outages and snow storms. Plus, I hate going to the store when people are in a frenzied mood.



Change Agent and Data Storyteller
Super Moderator
Things are slowly returning to "normal". Did some grocery shopping over lunch...had to restock my stack stash at my desk. :eek: Boy oh boy are things things looking spartan there! But slowly, the shelves are filling up again.

The Toronto Food Bank had to throw out ALL of their perishables and they were low to begin with.

Our Shipping Department and Rolling Mill resumed operations today, but our Melt Shop will only operate in the evenings for the next little while.

The 'Ex opened its doors today and hopes that the people of Toronto will thank the Management for not wasting power while the grid was being re-established by coming to the 'Ex. I may just do that...Air Show is the Long Weekend! Go Snowbirds!

Heard on Global News last night (a Toronto station) that a branch of the Al Queda are claiming responsibility for the blackout. A communique was sent to a respectable Middle East station with the claim.

But, despite all the chaos that reigned (and still is to a point), a few cute stories have come out this...

A couple in Toronto was getting married and just after the JoP said "You may kiss the bride." and the couple exchanged their first marital kiss....you guessed it...WHAM!....lights went out. If that's not a story for the grandkids, I don't what is! :vfunny:

Some neighbours of mine explained the power outage to their little girl as a game of Pioneer. Around 2030, the little girl came over grumbling "I don't want to be a pioneer any more!" :vfunny:

Randy Stewart

Does anyone have the Dilbert Desk Calendar?
Friday 8/15 Alice is doing a presentation on, of all things, Disaster Recovery Plan!

I'll post it as soon as I get it scanned in.


If anyone is interested in what led to the events of blackout 2003

Ohio Company at heart of blackout

A Homer Simpson-like chain of errors at an Ohio power company triggered events that plunged 50 million people into darkness Aug. 14, a U.S.-Canada task force has found.
FirstEnergy Corp.'s failures ranged from the simplest procedures — such as cutting trees growing too near its power lines, or telling its neighbours that it was having problems — to the more complex, such as having emergency systems fail without setting off any alarms.
And although it broke a string of industry rules, U.S. Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham conceded that they are all voluntary and said he'll push for a mandatory U.S. reliability rules.
But Canada's Natural Resources Minister Herb Dhaliwal ducked the issues.
He said electricity is a provincial jurisdiction.
And Ontario does have mandatory rules, and penalties for breaking them.
The task force refutes assertions by U.S. politicians that the blackout originated in Canada, and says there's no evidence it was caused by sabotage.
Its interim report released yesterday gives no such comfort to FirstEnergy, a holding company with seven operating Ohio utilities.
FirstEnergy managed to turn a local problem into an international catastrophe in part because it failed even the simplest of tasks. For example, it neglected to trim trees growing under its transmission lines.
In summer, hot weather and heat caused by heavy power flows makes wires expand and sag. If the wires touch trees that have been allowed to grow underneath, the line shorts out and fails.
Utilities are supposed to assume some lines will fail — at some point — due to weather, storms or accidents, and have systems in place to nip problems in the bud. But FirstEnergy's computerized alarm and monitoring systems started to fail about 2:15 p.m.
The company's information technology department knew of the problem, and was trying to correct it, but never alerted the operators routing power through the wires.
They remained unaware that they no longer had a safety net.
Meanwhile, demand was growing, and as it did, one transmission line and then another began to fail.
FirstEnergy is supposed to be monitored by a regional agency called the Midwest Independent System Operator (MISO) that oversees utilities in the Midwest. But MISO monitoring systems had also failed Aug. 14, so it didn't know things were going wrong at FirstEnergy.
FirstEnergy only woke up to the problems at 3:45 p.m.
At that point, blacking out an area around Cleveland and Akron might have eased demand on the system and reduced the stress, but no action was taken.
Nor did FirstEnergy alert other utilities or neighbouring system operators they were in trouble.
FirstEnergy's lax response to the budding emergency was not surprising.
The company "relied upon on-the-job experience for its operators in handling the routine business of a normal day," the task force says.
"But (it) had never experienced a major disturbance and had no simulator training or formal preparation for recognizing and responding to emergencies."
Dave Goulding, who heads Ontario's Independent Electricity Market Operator (IMO), says his controllers routinely start to make contingency plans if they see a problem developing, trying to figure out their next move in advance should the situation deteriorate further.
But the task force says FirstEnergy didn't go through that exercise as a matter of course, so it was caught flatfooted as one failure piled on the next.
In any case, the report says, anything FirstEnergy did once they realized the problem might have been too late.
With its system already staggering, another key FirstEnergy transmission line failed at 4:06 p.m., which sent power flooding on to other heavily loaded lines.
At the time, power was flowing through Ohio on its way to northern Ohio, Michigan and Ontario.
When the power couldn't find its way through central Ohio, it surged east and west, around both ends of Lake Erie, some of it crashing through Ontario.
The surge caused circuit breakers to trigger on more lines as they became overloaded, breaking connections between Ontario and the northeastern U.S. from the rest of the continent.
Unfortunately, Ontario and the northeast were importing power at the time.
Local generators couldn't meet the demand once imports were cut off, and were already under stress from the power surges on the transmission lines.
As demand far outstripped the ability of generators to meet it, voltages became unstable and generators had to disconnect themselves from the grid to protect their equipment from damage.
With huge chunks of the transmission system knocked out, and generators disconnecting in droves — a total of 92 plants shut down in Ontario — the province joined the northeastern states in the dark.
Despite the blackout's U.S. origin, Dhaliwal said the solution is not to sever Canada's power links with the U.S., saying imported power often keeps the lights on in Ontario.
Goulding, of the IMO, said what's needed is a new "electricity reliability organization" that can set and enforce standards on both sides of the U.S.-Canadian border.
He sits on a steering committee that's already planning such a body.
Tom Parkinson, chief executive of Hydro One, which runs Ontario's main transmission system, says the report won't affect his company. It spends $700 million a year on maintenance.
"It's business as usual for us. We fully comply with the rules now," he said in an interview.
But Ontario's Energy Minister Dwight Duncan said the province can't be complacent.
"We have a lot of work to do on the transmission side and we're prepared to take it," he said. "There are significant challenges on that side."
David McFadden, a Toronto energy lawyer who sat on a working group that was part of the task force, said the report shows the importance of mundane issues, such as tree cutting.
He rejected the notion that deregulating electricity has pushed some companies to put profit ahead of reliability.
"You'd have this sort of thing happening every year" if that were the case, he said.
"I don't believe that's what's happening. You had a very serious management issue in one company."
Keith Stewart of the Toronto Environmental Alliance said the report is one-sided.
"They just take the demand for electricity as a given," he said. "They're ignoring the role of conservation, and measures that can be taken to reduce demand." with files from Robert Benzie
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