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Power outage downtown remains unexplained

The city has been unable to determine the cause of a streetlight outage in Oshawa’s downtown on Sept. 3. (Photo courtesy of the City of Oshawa)

By Joel Wittnebel/The Oshawa Express

The cause of a power outage impacting a large collection of streets in Oshawa’s downtown earlier this month remains a mystery, and city of Oshawa staff are reluctant to provide any details.

Beginning on the evening of Sept. 3 and lasting until approximately 2 a.m. streetlight in the areas of Bond, Mary, Queens, Bagot, Simcoe, Centre, Athol, Metcalfe and John Street were all impacted by a lingering power outage.

Sources at the city tell The Oshawa Express that the City of Oshawa in collaboration with the Oshawa Power and Utilities Corporation have been unable to find a definitive cause of the outage.

Initial requests for comment to the OPUC were redirected to the city as they are responsible for streetlighting. However, Ron Diskey, the city’s commissioner of community services, was unable to share any concrete information about the outage.

“We do not have a definitive cause of the outage. We are working with the OPUC to investigate possible issues and possible causes,” he stated.

Information obtained by The Express notes that the potential cause of the outage could be related to a “control circuit failure.” Sources note that the downtown streetlights are turned on in a sequences of small sections with any errors resulting in the sections remaining off. The extent of the outage suggests an error early on in the sequence.

Recently, as part of an $8.4 million LED streetlighting upgrade, all of the city’s streetlights were replaced with LED bulbs, including the decorative streetlights throughout the city’s downtown core.

Requests for clarification from Diskey as to whether the recent failure had anything to do with the new lights, Diskey noted the city would not be sharing any further information in regards to the outage.

“We are still investigating the issue and will not be making any statements in the near future,” he stated.

Following receipt of this statement The Express once again reached out to the OPUC for any information related to the outage, where it was learned that over the Labour Day weekend when the outage occurred, there was no noted disruption to the OPUC’s grid.

“I have to defer to the city on streetlighting comments and respect their position given that the City of Oshawa owns and manages the street lighting system and not Oshawa Power,” says OPUC CEO Ivano Labricciosa. “From Oshawa Power’s perspective, I can confirm that we did not have any major power supply interruptions in the areas serviced by streetlights that were reported being off at the time.”

Now, following a request sent by The Express to Jag Sharma, the city manager, it appears the city is working to share further information with the public.

“My understanding from staff is that we continue to investigate and try and identify the root cause,” Sharma states. “The system has been tested many times since the failure. A (public service announcement) will be developed and circulated to remind the public to call Service Oshawa when there is a failure so that we can do the appropriate analysis during the failure and take appropriate actions.”