When we flick on the lights or plug our digital devices into their chargers, few of us think about the electricity we are using or where it’s coming from. That’s in part because electricity is so much a part of our daily life that we sometimes fail to even notice it, until there is a failure or outage.
In 2003, when much of North America’s eastern seaboard went dark due to a widespread electricity outage, residents in Ontario and 8 U.S. states were quickly reminded of the importance of electricity. The outage, which lasted a day in some areas and weeks in more remote areas, affected more than 50 million residents on both sides of the Canadian-U.S. border.
After an investigation, the outage was linked to laxed or non-existent regulations, overloaded transmission lines, overworked generating stations and poorly manicured trees in Ohio, which culminated in the perfect storm rippling across neighbouring states and Ontario.
During the early hours of the outage, U.S. officials were attributing the blackout to Canada, despite Ontario being the only jurisdiction with an implemented standards guideline.
“Ontario already had enforceable standards – with utilities or power agencies liable to fines if they didn’t make the grade. But in 2003, Ontario was the only jurisdiction in North America that did,” Bruce Campbell, chief executive of Independent Electricity Systems Operators said at the time.
The August 14th outage showcased how intricate and delicate our electricity grid is, while also highlighting how susceptible an overburdened system is to outages.
In the thirteen years since the Blackout of 2003, Ontario has come a long way in the distribution of energy and particularly electricity.
Last year, Ontario became the only Canadian province to completely eliminate coal from its energy grid, which put added pressure on energy sources that are less harmful to the environment.
Because a large amount of Ontario’s electricity is generated by the water power of Niagara Falls, electricity in Canada’s largest province has always been abundantly cleaner than provinces that rely on coal-burning electricity generation plants.
In the early 1900’s, hydroelectricity was introduced to the power grid as other energy sources, like wood, began to dwindle. The immense power generated by Niagara Falls provides enough energy to not only power much of Ontario, it also powers several U.S. states.
Hydroelectricity offers a clean, renewable energy source that creates no harmful emissions or dangerous byproducts.
In the century since hydroelectricity was first integrated into Ontario’s power grid, millions of residents and business owners have benefited from the clean energy water power produces. There has also been the addition of other renewable energy sources, like wind, natural gas and solar.
With so much choice, it can often be hard for business owners to decide which energy source is best for them. Active Business Services, a Burlington, Ontario energy management firm, was established a decade ago to assist commercial and industrial businesses in choosing the right energy package for their business.
Utilizing a comprehensive assessment process, Active Business Services works with business owners to assess risk level, energy consumption and demand, future use and a host of other issues to build a customized energy plan that benefits every business client.
As innovators around the world continue to look for green energy sources, Ontarians can rest assured that their province is committed to providing them clean energy in various forms.