Blog Post

OEB to Focus on the Impacts of "Major Events" on Electricity Distributors

As part of a recent initiative, the Ontario Energy Board (OEB) indicated that it plans to focus on "major events" and their impact on electricity distributor reliability and performance. "Major events" are extraordinary occurrences out of a distributor's control that cause significant disruptions on the distribution system. Examples are major weather-related events such as ice storms, major floods and tornadoes.

There are two main aspects to the OEB's initiative. First, the OEB will define "major event" so that distributors can exclude impacts from any "major event" from the reliability and performance data that distributors must provide to the OEB. Second, the OEB will implement new reporting requirements for distributors to provide details of any "major events" and the way that the distributor responded.

In connection with this initiative, the OEB issued a Report titled "Electricity Distribution System Reliability: Major Events, Reporting on Major Events and Customer Specific Measures" that discusses issues around "major events."

The OEB's Report discusses the disproportionate adverse impact that "major events" may have on a distributor's reliability results, but notes the difficulty in defining what should be considered as a "major event." The OEB plans to confirm a definition for "major events," and then will allow distributors to exclude the consequential impacts in future reliability reporting. In its Report, the OEB has provided a sample definition and has asked stakeholders for comments by January 11, 2016 on the definition and on the approach to be taken to exclude data related to "major events."

The OEB's Report also points to a concern that the frequency of "major events" may increase according to climate change models. The OEB is concerned that this will have a significant impact on the operation of distribution systems across the province. This concern leads the OEB to propose that there be substantially increased reporting from distributors about their response to "major events." The OEB has set out a proposal that distributors provide detailed reporting within 60 days after a "major event" to explain how the distributor prepared for, reacted to and recovered from a "major event." To scope the reporting, the OEB suggests more than 25 questions that a distributor should answer in each report. The OEB has requested comments from stakeholders about this new reporting requirement by January 11, 2016.