Voltage reduction is an emergency action available to the IESO to maintain reliability in situations when demand on the power grid exceeds available supply. Voltage reductions can lower demand quickly, minimizing the likelihood of service interruptions. This action would be taken before the IESO would implement more severe measures such as load shedding. Voltage reductions have minimal or no noticeable impact on the public at large.
Regular Voltage Reduction Testing
Every 18 months, the IESO conducts province-wide system voltage reduction tests. These tests are not simulations but actual voltage reductions of three and five per cent. The purpose of voltage reduction tests is:
- To determine how much power can be reduced through the two levels of reduction − three and five per cent
- To identify equipment problems so they can be addressed
- To help keep IESO and market participant staff familiar with procedures, and identify any deficiencies in the procedures that may need correction
Additional local or province-wide tests may be scheduled if necessary.
Impact on Consumers
Consumers are unlikely to notice any change as the voltages are still expected to be within established industry standards for electrical equipment used by residential, commercial and industrial consumers. If you have not noticed any impact on your equipment in the past, you should not notice it during this test.
Impact on the System
The amount of relief provided is proportional to the demand at the time. An example of possible voltage reduction results during the February 2015 test:
- The three per cent voltage reduction resulted in an average decrease in primary demand of approximately 355 megawatts
- The five per cent voltage reduction resulted in an average decrease in primary demand of approximately 388 megawatts
Exclusions from Voltage Reduction Tests
Consumers may request a temporary exclusion from voltage reduction tests through their local distribution company. That request may be granted if it addresses public health and safety concerns, potential damage to equipment, or undue injury to the environment. In addition, exclusions may be granted where loss of production might occur.
All requests for exclusions must be accompanied by a mitigation plan to remedy the problem or confirmation that the request will not result in a future exclusion during an actual voltage reduction. Participation in voltage reduction tests is important. Tests provide consumers an opportunity to identify and address problems with their equipment. In a real voltage reduction scenario, it is unlikely that there would be many exclusions. Broad participation also leads to a better quality of test, which helps support a robust and reliable power grid.