Category: PLP

THE IMPORTANCE OF PROPER TREE MAINTENANCE

THE IMPORTANCE OF PROPER TREE MAINTENANCE

At Powerline Plus Ltd., we are committed to providing safe and reliable electrical services to our clients and their customers. Out in the field working on high voltage electrical equipment, we face numerous challenges on a daily basis. The close proximity of trees to power lines is one of those challenges. With over 10 million trees in Toronto, it is virtually impossible to avoid tree and power line contact. There are approximately 150,000 trees that are in close proximity to power lines in the City of Toronto. Some areas are more heavily vegetated than others, which pose greater obstacles for crews.

For example, Powerline Plus is currently working on Project “Merton Millwood Phase 4” in the Mt.Pleasant and St. Clair Ave E. area. This residential community has countless beautiful and well-aged trees, some have grown as large as 50 feet high. The maturity and size of these trees make them likely to obstruct power lines, and regular tree trimming is required to keep the distribution system functioning normally.

When trees and power lines do come in contact, electrical services can be disrupted and it can present numerous safety hazards for the public. Trees that come into contact with power lines can cut the power to your home or business, result in property damage, and cause pedestrian or traffic obstructions. Some trees need to be trimmed, others may be too close to power lines and may need to be cut down completely because they present a potentially dangerous situation if left as is. The infamous ice storm of 2013 wreaked havoc on the City of Toronto, and showed the potential dangers and damages that the close proximity of trees to power lines can have on the City’s power systems.

The reality is that although natural forces, such as heavy winds and rain, play a significant role in exacerbating these challenges, some outages could be prevented with proper tree maintenance and care. Powerline Plus has a strong, working relationship with the City of Toronto, and has improved our coordination efforts when it comes to dealing with these issues. Residents can also help by maintaining trees on their property. In older areas where residents have hydro poles situated in their backyard that feed the service to their homes, tree maintenance is especially important. Toronto Hydro’s Capital Projects program places emphasis on upgrading these services, where trees or animal contact with power lines cause regular outages.

It is important that when it comes to performing tree maintenance that doing so safely is the most important consideration. If there is a tree that resides on your property and it is near a power line, then you should hire a qualified arborist who is licensed to work on trees around power lines. Do not attempt to do this yourself, as it is very dangerous and requires a certified professional. If you are a Toronto resident and require maintenance on trees on City-owned property, you should call 3-1-1.

Powerline Plus always prioritizes safety. As a homeowner, you can reduce electrical safety hazards by proper planting. We recommend the following if you are planting trees and gardening:

  • Visualize how high and wide the tree will grow. If it is likely that the tree will potentially pose a problem in the future, then it is best to consider planting it somewhere else.
  • Avoid planting trees near an energized power line.

COOLING DOWN IN THE SUMMER AND LOWERING ENERGY COSTS

COOLING DOWN IN THE SUMMER AND LOWERING ENERGY COSTS

As the temperatures continue to climb, Toronto residents are being advised by public officials to stay indoors and stay cool. Numerous heat alerts have been issued by Environment Canada, and the City of Toronto has taken numerous measures to help residents find relief from the sweltering heat, such as establishing cooling centers and extend swimming pool hours throughout the city quarters. Powerline Plus encourages that all Greater Toronto Area residents to stay cool during the summer heat, especially those who will be outdoors. We ask residents to take extra care during the extreme heat.

If you’re outdoors, these are some helpful tips to stay cool during the heatwave:

  • Seek shade and stay out of the heat. Being exposed to scorching temperatures can result in heat-related problems, such as heat exhaustion and heat stroke.
  • Drink plenty of water or juice throughout the day. Try to limit your alcohol and caffeinated drink intake, which makes it more difficult for your body to adjust to its temperature.
  • Having a cool cloth on you, and applying it to your face, forehead or arms, as well as short showers, are also good ways to beat the heat.
  • Wear light-colored, lightweight clothing. Dark clothing tends to retain the heat and absorbs it.
  • These warm summer days and nights also provides the perfect environment for mosquitos to thrive. This may also bring diseases such as West Nile virus. You can prevent mosquito bites by using insect repellent and cover up with light clothing.

With the rise in temperatures, the City is seeing an increased surge in energy demands during the heatwave as air conditioners are being overworked and maximized. Environment Canada has forecasted that the hot and humid temperatures will continue to hold-up in the coming weeks. With the rising temperatures, Toronto residents are being asked to reduce their energy consumption to reduce the strain on the City’s electrical infrastructures. Toronto Hydro has reported that during the July 27 heatwave, energy peak demand was at a staggering 4,100 megawatts, which is close to last year’s highest MW usage. The peak consumption times usually happens in the late afternoon, where temperatures are usually at their highest.

The lengthy, unceasing heatwaves put great stress on electrical distribution systems. This is because as the overnight temperatures continue to remain steady and electrical equipment, such as transformers, are not able to cool down and can become overheated. This can cause heat-related power outages. In order to offset and limit energy consumption during these times, Toronto Hydro has implemented Time-of-Use rates. The highest and most expensive peak-times for energy consumption, in the summer, occur between 11 a.m. and 5 p.m.

In light of this, Powerline Plus recommends numerous ways to cool your home in the summer heat. These tips are in-line with making sure your home does not heat up in the first place and maximize air flow to reduce any heat that does build up:

  • Cook outdoors so you don’t have to turn the stove or oven on.
  • Use clotheslines to dry-out your clothes so you do not have to use an energy-taxing and heat-producing dryer.
  • Keep the blinds close so that direct sunlight does not penetrate your home and, in turn, heat it.
  • Planting trees is a great way to keep the sun from shining into your household.
  • Draft-proof your home helps keep the hot air out in the summer. This will also benefit you in the winter time because it keeps cold air out as well.
  • Improve air flow in your house by keeping on air ventilations and ceiling fans.
  • During the evenings and nights, you can open up your windows to get rid of stagnant air and freshen your house.

TORONTO HYDRO RELEASE 2014 ANNUAL REPORT

TORONTO HYDRO RELEASE 2014 ANNUAL REPORT

Toronto Hydro Corporation has released its 2014 Annual Report to the public. The report summarizes that despite several challenges, Toronto Hydro continues to make important strides in meeting consumer demands and internal benchmarks. The biggest challenges facing Toronto Hydro, according to the report, are aging infrastructure and growing demands on the electricity system. Toronto Hydro is planning to have a big 2015 as they are the Official Electricity Distribution supplier for the Pan Am Games.

Despite setting tough-to-meet targets at the beginning of 2014, the report concluded that Toronto Hydro exceeded almost all of its Key Performance Indicators. This resulted in income gains of $112.5 million and a $60.6 million dividend to the City of Toronto.

In light of the continued improvement efforts on both on infrastructural and business fronts, Toronto Hydro reaffirmed that they are as committed to setting newer, higher benchmarks. The report highlighted that infrastructural improvements will be one of the core concerns of 2015. This trend for continuous improvement was exemplified by new project initiatives like the construction of Copeland Transformer Station. It is the first station to be built in downtown Toronto since the 1960s.

With over $588 in capital expenditures in 2014, Toronto Hydro is investing heavily in the electricity grid to meet demands on multiple fronts. The electricity grid upgrades will include replacing aging infrastructure, investing in new technologies that will improve reliability and meet the growing demands of Greater Toronto Area residents.

The improvements that are constantly being integrated and implemented have resulted in fewer and shorter power blackouts and outages than previous years. Since 2007, the number of outages has seen a 37% decline and the duration of disruptions has been lowered by 26%. Worker safety was also emphasized in the report, with Toronto Hydro employees seeing a 73% decline in work-related injuries.

The report also advised that in order for necessary upgrades to be applied, Toronto Hydro has an ambitious five-year rate application with the Ontario Energy Board, which is still awaiting approval. The rate will help meet current and future upgrade initiatives. Toronto Hydro currently operates and owns an electricity distribution system that delivers electricity to over 735,000 customers located in Toronto.

DISCUSSION: CANADIAN CONSUMERS AND THEIR ELECTRICITY CONSUMPTION

DISCUSSION: CANADIAN CONSUMERS AND THEIR ELECTRICITY CONSUMPTION

This past Thursday, June 4th, Powerline Plus had the honour of attending a presentation by the President and CEO of the Canadian Electricity Association Mr. Sergio Marchi at the Toronto Region Board of Trade headquarters downtown Toronto. The discussion highlighted some of the challenges facing Canadian consumers and their electricity consumption in a rapidly growing economy.

Mr. Marchi touched on some very relevant points, including the integral role electricity plays in our day to day lives. From your morning pot of coffee, to the elevator that takes you up to your office, to the smart phone in your hand, electricity demand is ever increasing. Yet it is often taken for granted.

Most consumers and business owners don’t think about the “behind the scenes” action that takes place when you flick on a light switch in your home. It is easy to overlook the thousands of kilometers of transmission wires that carry energy from the source of generation to your fingertips. The electrical generation, transmission, and distribution system is extremely intricate and complex, yet it is expected that this network be continuously functioning with minimal interruptions. The maintenance of the systems required to power your everyday essentials takes an army of highly skilled engineers, operators, administrators, emergency response crews, labourers and more. And just like a battery, a laptop computer, or a smart phone, an electrical distribution system will not last forever. Here in the Toronto region, most of our systems were installed 3-4 decades ago, meaning the infrastructure is rapidly reaching the end of its useful life. This phenomenon is not an isolated concern in Toronto, Ontario or even Canada, as aging equipment is an issue effecting numerous countries in Europe and other parts of North America. Aging infrastructure poses reliability concerns to customers, which is one of the reasons Toronto Hydro and Powerline Plus are working together to rebuild the city’s overhead and underground assets. Regardless of the age of the systems, it is evident that Canadians needelectricity to function in the 21st century.

There are other necessities in today’s world that are seen as essential to the average Canadian. These necessities include shelter, food, clothing, fuels for vehicles, telecommunications services, and cable or satellite. Many of us are critical about the rising cost of living in this country, and how essential services are becoming more expensive. Although electricity costs have increased, the average Canadian spends only 2% of their daily income on electricity bills, with the average cost per day sitting at around $3.59. To put this into perspective, Canadians spend around $21.86 per day on food, and $5.47 per day on telecommunications services. When we consider how crucial electricity use is in our daily lives, we begin to see the value added within the costs associated.

Anthony Haines, President and CEO of Toronto Hydro, noted at the event that energy conservation is key, and the best way to address the electrical demand of tomorrow, is to conserve today.  See our recent blog post here for useful tips on how to conserve energy and reduce your electricity consumption.

WAYS TO CONSERVE ENERGY

WAYS TO CONSERVE ENERGY

The benefits of conserving energy is multi-fold. In addition to lowering your utility bills, you will also reduce your carbon footprint. The quality of the water we drink, the air we breathe and the food we consume is crucial to the vitality and healthiness of a society. That is why it is important for us to be cognizant of the impact that our day-to-day choices have on the environment. While improving technologies help, we need to still make the right choices. Powerline Plus always encourages the general public to make sound energy choices in how we heat and cool our homes, what vehicles we drive and any general energy-consumption choices we make. Contrary to conventional wisdom, small changes that you make in your daily routine will have major consequences on the environment. The tips that we offer in this article will provide solid guidelines on how to save energy, year-round.

Various tips on how to lower your energy usages and implement energy-saving lifestyle changes that will be discussed. It will cover energy-efficient tips when it comes to cooling, heating, lighting, appliances, water heating, electronics, windows and roofing. Whenever you undertake a plan to reduce your energy usage, it is important to practice due diligence and understand the changeover. Every home and business now has a smart meter, which has enabled people to manage their electricity usages. Smart meters measure how much energy is being consumed on an hour-to-hour basis. Billing has divided consumer’s electricity into three different categories: on-peak, off-peak and mid-peak. Each category has a corresponding billing rate.

  • Peak hours: business hours on Monday to Friday. This period of time has the highest billing rate.
  • Mid-Peak hours: Just before and after peak hours. The period of time has the second highest billing rate and is usually slightly more inexpensive than peak hours.
  • Off-Peak: It is the most inexpensive time period. It is usually on the weekends, holidays and at night.
  • General Note: Billing rates change season-by-season.

It would be prudent and beneficial for customers to shift their energy usages to off-peak times.

Top Ways to Lower Energy Consumption, Save Money

  • Use LED/ CFL bulbs: The switchover can save you up to three times the purchase cost and electricity. CFL bulbs will result in 75% less electricity and last ten-times as long.
  • Install Smart Thermostat: When you are away, through WiFi-enabled thermostats or programmable thermostats like Nest©, you can lower/ increase the temperatures during the heating and cooling seasons. The energy savings will pay immediate dividends and within a 1 or 2 years, it should pay for the thermostat.
  • Replace Old Refrigerator: Older appliances are more inefficient and can increase your energy expenditures every month. Getting a certified “Energy Star” refrigerator/ freezer is always a good idea.
  • Dispose Extra Refrigerator: While it may provide more storage space for your perishables, refrigerators use a lot of energy. You may be spending upwards of $150 dollars a year for powering your second refrigerator.
  • Wash Laundry in Cold Water: The energy it takes to heat laundry water can have a negative impact on your bottom-line. By changing-over to washing in cold water, it allows you to save energy in a big way. Studies have shown that washing your laundry in cold water is actually beneficial to the longevity of your clothing articles.
  • Install Insulation: Insulation helps the inflow and outflow of heat. It will keep your home warmer in the winter and will keep it cooler in the summer. The first places to start is the basement and the attic, where you will naturally see it the highest fluctuations in cold and hot temperatures.
  • Motion Sensors: Avoid leaving your lights-on outside, you can setup a motion sensor that turns lights-on when someone is there.

Air Leaks Air leaks can waste a lot of energy. One of the best ways to lower energy consumptions and save money is to seal and weather-strip cracks and openings. Test the air tightness of your home by feeling for air on windy days. Once you detect there is an opening, then remediate.

Cooling and Heating Close to 50% of your utility bill is related to your cooling and heating costs. You should set your thermostat to a temperature that you are comfortable with in the winter and summer. This means, in the summer, set it to as high as you are comfortable with and as low as you are comfortable with in the winter. When it is cool outside in the summer, open your windows and turn off your heat. In the winter, open your drapes and shades to allow for sunlight to come in. Ensure that your windows and doors are closed when heating or cooling your house.

Roofing The heat retention on your roof makes your air conditioner work harder in the summer. Two renovation procedures can help you save energy dollars. A “cool roof” allows for more sunlight and a “green roof,” which is ideal for flat roots, can help manage storm weather and allows you to enjoy gardening space. Consult a professional before opting for a green roof to see if it is a viable option.

Water Heating Water heating is a big utility expense. It accounts for close to 20% of your utility bill. The best ways to cut-down on your water bill is to use less hot water, turn down thermostat on your water heater, insulate your water heater or upgrade your water heater. Most water heaters can last for up to 15 years, but it is best to change them after 7-8 years.

Lighting Switching to energy-efficient lighting bulbs is one of the fastest ways to cut your energy bills. When you’ve installed timers and motion sensors, you are able to manage your lighting in a way that coincides with turning it on when you need it. Changing your lighting is the fastest way for you to decrease your energy output.

Windows Windows can be a big energy drain as they let heat and coolness go in-and-out. You should consider replacing your windows with double-pane windows. In colder climates, select gas-filled windows with low-e coatings to reduce heat loss. In warmer climates, select windows with selected coatings to reduce heat gain.

Renewable Energy Solar panels on rooftops have become very popular. They can be used to generate heat, electricity and light up your house. In addition to solar paneling, you can also buy renewable energy for your home. You can buy electricity that is made from renewable sources like the sun, wind, water etc. You can also install small wind turbines.

WEATHER-RELATED CAUSES RESULT IN POWER OUTAGES

WEATHER-RELATED CAUSES RESULT IN POWER OUTAGES

Weather-related causes were to blame for a series of downtown outages that had affected scores of homes throughout the Greater Toronto Area, including the downtown core, and had left many in the dark.

  • Around 8:50PM on Saturday night, residence in Queen Street West and College Street West were without power. Around 1500 Toronto Hydro customers were affected.
  • Along Highway 401, from Lawrence Ave to Bayview and the Don Mills area also saw blackouts.
  • Outages had affected customers in along Shaw St. and also in Palmerston Blvd.

Environment Canada had issued a severe thunderstorm warning for Saturday evening but had lifted it shortly before 6PM.  Despite lifting the warning, the weather continued to cause complications and had resulted in power failures. Heavy-falling precipitation had also resulted in an advisory warning from Toronto Region Conservation Area. They had warned of rising waterway levels and advised that people should avoid them, at all costs, as the risk for potential flooding in low-level areas was elevated.

The wild weather fluxes in Toronto is occurring in the midst of humid conditions and fluctuating temperatures due to a slow-starting spring. Toronto Hydro crews were responsive and had minimized the impact of the outages in disparate parts of the city and had quick turnaround time in restoring power. They were keeping the public up-to-date in real-time, providing status updates and answering questions on their Twitter page.

TORONTO HYDRO, NEWEST OFFICIAL SUPPLIER OF TORONTO 2015 GAMES

TORONTO HYDRO, NEWEST OFFICIAL SUPPLIER OF TORONTO 2015 GAMES

In further evidence that Toronto Hydro’s role at the 2015 Pan Am / Parapan Am Games is growing, it has been announced that Toronto Hydro will be the Official Electricity Distribution supplier. Toronto Hydro will be actively supporting a banner program that will dress-up Toronto Hydro power line poles with over 4,000 artful banners that will add vibrant colors to the continental festivities. In order to highlight the extent of their sponsorship efforts and their overall involvement with the Pan American Games , Toronto Hydro has opened-up new facilities on Yonge Street to accommodate staffing needs. The new site will function as a de facto organizational committee that will help serve as a distribution centre for employees and volunteers.

Beyond world-class athletics, the pan American games will showcase the cultural and sporting diversity of the incoming athletes as well as Toronto’s multicultural and growing community. Toronto Hydro will be powering the Games and has implemented emergency protocols and response plans to minimize outages, blackouts and general risks that are associated with grid disturbances. The Toronto Hydro has dispatch crews and emergency plans in place and have standby crews in case of any type of disturbances. Powerline Plus has a proud and extensive partnership with Toronto Hydro and has been one of its biggest and most reliable subcontractors.

Toronto Hydro has a long history supporting community-based events and is looking to continue that tradition by playing a major role in helping assist the Toronto 2015 Pan Am/ Parapan Am Games Organizing Committee (TO2105). TO2015 is tasked with helping manage and deliver the games. Toronto Hydro is the largest municipal electricity distribution company in Canada and serves close to 800,000 customers. The Pan Am games will run from July 10-26, while the Parapan Am Games will run from August 7 to the 15. The Parapan American Games is a multi-sport event for athletes with physical disabilities. The games are meant to showcase some of the best athletes in North America, who will be competing in Olympic-style summer competitions. The Games are funded by the federal and provincial governments as well as sponsored by a host of corporate partners.

25 YEARS: PAST, PRESENT AND FUTURE

25 YEARS: PAST, PRESENT AND FUTURE

25 years, a quarter of a century. Just enough time to build a legacy and a reputation for greatness. Since Powerline Plus’ inception 25 years ago, we have continuously strived for greatness, and we don’t plan on slowing down.

Our first blog post is dedicated to acknowledging the successes of years past and the countless more milestones to come. Being a part of a highly competitive and regulated utility construction industry has its challenges, but as they say “if it doesn’t challenge you, it doesn’t change you”. And positive change is exactly what’s in store for Powerline.

With the recent purchase of 15 acres of prime real estate, Powerline Plus has begun construction of a brand new grand headquarters facility located near Lawrence and Warden Ave in Toronto, Ontario. Equipped with a massive warehouse boasting 34,000 square feet of space, a concrete plant, and a stunning 2 story office building, PLP has both the resources and the experience to take on any challenges that tomorrow throws our way.

Stay tuned for our regular blog with exciting news about Powerline’s projects, safety initiatives, upcoming events, industry trends, interviews, videos, and more!

Follow us on twitter to stay up to date with all the latest and greatest at @powerlineplus

POWERLINE SAFETY AWARENESS WEEK – MAY 11-15

POWERLINE SAFETY AWARENESS WEEK – MAY 11-15

This week is Powerline Safety Awareness week in Ontario, but for the men and women who work around these high voltage lines regularly, every day is filled with safety and awareness. The risks involved with coming in contact with a powerline leave no room for error, and it is critical to stay alert and mindful of your surroundings. According to the electrical safety association, powerline contact is still the leading cause of electrical-related deaths in Ontario.

Not only are heavy construction workers at risk of coming in contact with powerlines, but homeowners also need to be extra cautious. Whether you are cleaning eaves troughs, or erecting a new fence on your front lawn, be warned that powerlines are present, and they are live! It’s not just overhead wires that can be potentially harmful, but wires buried beneath the ground can be struck and cause injury to you, as well as power outages for your neighbours. Before doing any kind of digging outside, be sure to get in contact with Ontario One Call. They offer a free service to locate all underground utilities, including buried electrical cables, on request. Visit http://www.on1call.com/ for more info.

In honour of Powerline Safety Awareness week, our workers wanted to share some of their safety wisdom with the students at Hillcrest Progressive School. They stopped in on their lunch break this Monday to give the kids an inside look at the machines used to help dig the trenches where the concrete encased ducts will house the new electrical cables. According to the school’s administrators, the kids had a great time…and so did the Powerline Plus crews! Martin Mcghee, a seasoned Powerline Plus Foreman, has been working on Phase 4 of the Hogg’s Hollow Underground Rebuild Project for the past few weeks. “It’s great to be able to engage with the communities we work in” Martin says, “this type of thing doesn’t take any time out of our day and it makes the kids really happy, so it’s worth it”.

It’s important to educate your children on the dangers that high voltage wires possess. The Electrical Safety Association (ESA) provides 3 useful reminders to share with your kids:

  1. Don’t fly toys near lines. Keep kites, remote control helicopters, drones and other airborne toys well away from powerlines.
  2. Electrical equipment is not safe for play. Don’t play on or near the ground-mounted green transformer boxes on lawns or in parks. Never climb utility poles.
  3. Check before tree climbing. Never climb trees that are near or touching powerlines. Look carefully for hidden powerlines covered by branches and leaves.

For more info on powerline safety visit www.esasafe.com