Lights out in Leslieville: The mystery behind the morning power outages
Most mornings, at about 7 a.m., the lights in Leslieville start to flicker—and then the power goes out.
In about 3,000 homes, microwaves start to blink, alarm systems beep and televisions reboot.
“Everything’s turned off, then everything comes back again,” said resident Alec Lucks. “I don’t know what’s going on, but this has been happening for at least three months.”
The flicker only lasts a minute or two - but has been happening in the area around Greenwood Avenue and Gerrard Street East more days than not, according to the people who live and work there.
“Then it all comes back on, the alarms go off, and then you’ve got to reset everything,” property manager Debbie Evans told CTV News Toronto.
A minor morning inconvenience for most, but for many, a mystery: what’s with the Leslieville lights?
The answer, according to Toronto Hydro, has to do with a type of safety mechanism called an auto-reclosure.
“An auto-reclosure occurs when the station breaker detects a fault current and automatically opens and then recloses,” said spokesperson Russell Baker.
The result is a localized outage that typically lasts less than a minute and occurs more frequently in neighbourhoods with overhead wires that make contact with trees.
But the brief flickers have longer lasting-consequences for some.
Butcher Mandi Abutaha has often opened up his shop to find his cash register, air conditioner, and refrigeration coolers off - because they didn’t reboot after the outage.
“Many times I lost some money when I saw that,” he said. “Everything shut down, so you come in the morning and all the meat is garbage.”
Doodle’s Market owner Kamar Shah has set up special metres to advise him of outages in his food shop.
“We’ve done that specifically so I get phone alerts just in case my fridges go off,” he said.
He would love to avoid the issue altogether, but Toronto Hydro calls it a normal part of electrical distribution.
“Although we recognize these outages are inconvenient, they are necessary to prevent more significant outages,” said Baker.