The Province of Ontario and the Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO) have an Ontario Electricity Emergency Plan that is used in the event of a large-scale electricity emergency in Ontario. The IESO, in consultation with the Ministry of Energy, can declare an electricity emergency.
A sustained power outage has the potential to adversely impact public safety, the environment, security and the economy. The general public can prepare for power outages before they happen.
The IESO has a three-level media advisory process to alert the public to any power disruptions. Others in the electricity industry can also be expected to issue media advisories to address local or specific issues.
1. Power Advisory
This is issued when electricity is in tight supply. All electricity consumers and industries are asked to voluntarily reduce their electricity consumption.
2. Power Warning
This is issued when there is an elevated level of concern about the reliability of the electricity supply and the IESO is implementing emergency control actions. All electricity consumers, including industries, are asked to immediately reduce their electricity consumption. Any further unforeseen increase in electricity demand, or reduction in supply, may result in the need to implement load shedding. Load shedding means that electricity supply to consumers will be disrupted on a rotating basis across the province for approximately 30 minutes to an hour, depending on the extent of the electricity shortfall. Under these circumstances, advance notice may not be possible.
3. Power Emergency
This is issued as a last resort when the IESO must implement load shedding.
As with any emergency, communities have emergency response plans and organizations in place to deal with an extended power outage. They work closely with their local electricity distributor (e.g. Alectra Utilities) and Emergency Management Ontario to monitor the situation, and ensure that public safety is protected during a power outage.
Source: Ontario Ministry of Energy