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Distribution System Climate Risk and Vulnerability Assessment

Client: Hydro Ottawa

Project Date: 2019

Project Role: Technical Team Leader; Subject Matter Expert (Asset Management; Climate Risks)

The project involved two separate, but related scopes of work Ottawa Hydro’s distribution system. The initial scope and deliverable were to evaluate potential risks associated with future changes in the climate and extreme weather events on Hydro Ottawa’s electrical distribution system and supporting infrastructure including buildings, facilities, and other assets. The risk assessment relied on the expertise and system familiarity of the subject matter experts and Hydro Ottawa staff through interview and workshop settings. The risk assessment also included a climate forensics study on three particularly damaging weather events that took place in 2018 including a freezing rain event, a high wind event and a series of tornados that caused significant damages within the National Capital Region and Hydro Ottawa infrastructure.


The climate risk and vulnerability assessment followed the PIEVC Protocol and conformed to ISO 31000 and ISO 14090. This assessment identified relevant climate parameters and infrastructure responses and assigned risk ratings.


Hydro Ottawa operates a critical electrical distribution system exposed to varying elements which meant a significant number of climate-infrastructure interactions, each requiring consideration and analysis. The complexity of this process was overcome through the use of a highly organized risk evaluation system, the collective knowledge, expertise, and affective collaboration of our project team and the active engagement of Hydro Ottawa staff in interviews and workshops.


The adaptation plan built on the climate risks assessment to assess costs and benefits of adaptation measures. Ultimately, the study was used by the utility to support their rates submission to the Ontario Energy regulator.



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