By Jordan Heath-Rawlings
The lights of downtown Toronto went dark just after 11:00 a.m. Tuesday morning, setting off a power outage that lasted for almost an hour and a half.
The blackout, which came as the city’s core was struggling to cope with snarled traffic due to a heavy snowfall, was originally blamed on a tripped transmission line at a generating station just north of Bay Street.
But Daffyd Roderick, a spokesperson for Hydro One, said that the power was lost due to an equipment failure at the Esplanade generating station.
“A breaker failed. It was one of two 1150kilovolt circuits and that circuit goes from the Esplanade [generating station[ to Terawley [generating station],” he said. “So originally everyone thought it was a problem at Terawley.”
The backup circuit, which would have handled the extra voltage and prevented the blackout, was down for scheduled repairs.
“It was one of those things,” Roderick said. “We had one circuit that was down … And we schedule these things months in advance.”
Roderick said that the snowstorm, which dumped nearly 20 centimetres of snow on the city Monday night, did not play a part in the failure.
“It was a pure equipment problem.”
The next wave of the snowstorm, which was expected to add another 10-15 centimetres to the accumulated drifts by Wednesday morning, was just gathering strength when the power went out.
Akthough power was out briefly in other parts of the city, the main outage stretched from Queen Street to College Street, and from University Avenue to Victoria Street.
Power to downtown schools and businesses, including Ryerson University, the Eaton Centre and parts of the University of Toronto, was lost.
Traffic lights stopped working on already dangerous roads, forcing drivers to treat all intersections as four-way stops –a lesson they learned during the city’s last major blackout this past August.
As they did when the entire city lost power last summer, ordinary citizens abandoned their journies home and stopped to direct traffic at intersections like Yonge and Dundas streets.
Roderick said that power to all of downtown was completely restored just after 12:20 p.m.