While the IESO and market participants strive to assure the reliability of the IESO-controlled grid at all times, they must be ready for emergency situations and be able to respond to all threats and hazards, whether natural or man-made.
Emergency preparedness plans
All market participants must prepare and submit emergency plans to the IESO that describe how they will respond to emergencies affecting the supply or delivery of electricity.
Every emergency preparedness plan must describe:
- emergency response activation process
- actions to be taken to mitigate the impact of extended outages on public health and safety
- how participation in emergency drills and exercises test the plan
- internal and external communications processes
- how coordination of restoration and recovery actions are conducted outside of the company
The IESO will assist market participants in the development of emergency preparedness plans that support and are coordinated with the Ontario electricity emergency plan.
Restoration participants must annually submit the electronic certification form (Ontario Reliability Compliance Program Form 1608) using the IESO Reliability Compliance Tool accessed through Online IESO.
Emergency Preparedness Task Force
The Emergency Preparedness Task Force (EPTF) provides overall direction and oversight for the coordination of Ontario's electricity emergency planning efforts. This task force is represented by stakeholders and is chaired by the IESO’s Chief Operating Officer.
The Ontario Electricity Emergency Plan describes the framework for this collaboration across Ontario's electricity industry.
Provincial emergency coordination
The EPTF works closely with the Ministry of Energy, Northern Development and Mines and Emergency Management Ontario to ensure that electricity industry emergency plans support Ontario's Provincial Emergency Plan. This includes:
- Critical infrastructure protection initiatives such as physical and cyber security
- Critical interdependencies with other industry sectors such as telecommunications, oil and natural gas
The EPTF assigns stakeholder-represented working groups to carry out this work.
Role of Crisis Management Support Team
Market participants should activate their emergency plans in response to local events and circumstances. In the event of a large-scale electricity emergency, such as occurred during the January 1998 ice storm or the August 2003 blackout, the Ontario electricity industry's Crisis Management Support Team (CMST) will be activated.
- The CMST provides a forum for key Ontario electricity industry representatives to provide early warnings of events that may affect the reliability of the electricity system. It also helps co-ordinate consequence management.
- CMST representatives have sufficient management authority to provide strategic information and influence decision-making on behalf of their organizations.
- The CMST shares information on the status of the situation, identifies issues, and provides guidance for response and recovery strategy, but takes no operational decision-making accountabilities away from participating companies.
- During emergency incidents, the CMST is an essential source of information to the Ontario Government's Provincial Emergency Operations Centre.
- The Ontario Electricity Emergency Plan details the CMST's structure and responsibilities.