Hydro One explains flickering lights

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If you noticed your lights flicker Monday night, you weren’t alone.

Hydro One confirmed there was a voltage disturbance just before 9:30 p.m., sparking widespread reports of a brief flash as it caused a hiccup to the power supply.

“We were getting reports from the GTA and as far away as Ottawa and north of Sudbury,” Hydro One spokesman Tiziana Baccega Rosa said Tuesday. “It was a momentary disruption and a unique occurrence.”

Two high-voltage lines near the Richview Transformer Station in Etobicoke came into contact after an insulator — the piece of equipment that holds a power line off of a transmission tower — broke.

“This isn’t like a downed wire on a residential street, for instance, which might cause a power disruption to the neighbourhood. This was part of a provincewide, 29,000-km high-voltage transmission network,” Baccega Rose said. That network delivers electricity to large industrial customers and municipal utilities in Ontario.

The wires touched briefly.

“It’s like trying to keep two pieces of string balanced on each other,” Baccega Rose said, adding the likelihood of a recurrence would be very low.

At least 5,000 customers were affected by unrelated power outages across the GTA Tuesday morning, mainly due to hydro pole fires.

Premier Kathleen Wynne said she was at home when the lights flickered.

“Whenever it happens, my thought is that it is extremely important that we do everything in our power to make sure that our power supply is reliable and that when there is a problem, it’s returned as quickly as possible,” Wynne said.

The premier said her government inherited from the Ontario PCs a neglected electricity system in need of updating. The Liberals have built 10,000 kilometres of transmission lines and made other investments across the province, she said.

“We have made sure that the infrastructure was upgraded so that it is much more reliable,” she said. “The difference between 2003 and now, there were many more brown-outs and black-outs. It was a much more fragile system at that point than it is now.”