Ontario’s lavish, expensive electricity weekend

Enjoy the weekend and the balmy weather? Good: you paid millions for it.

Live it up, baby

Ontarians waited a while for Mother Nature to bless them with a good weekend and it finally happened. June 8th and 9th were beautiful days filled with sunshine and temperatures that were warm but not hot.   A nice breeze added to the two spring days.

So, while Mother Nature treated us nicely, that meant people were out enjoying the weather and electricity consumption was, as it usually is during the Spring and Fall, low. Consumption at its lowest (Ontario demand) point over the weekend was 10,564 MW during one hour, and average Ontario demand over the 48 hours was a very low 12,975 MW*.

The combination of nice weather and low electricity consumption however, created an expensive weekend for Ontario ratepayers. Those breezes were generating surplus wind power from industrial wind turbines and water was flowing through our rivers and through and over our dams. The combination cost Ontario ratepayers lots!

For example, wind which delivered 39,870 MWh but the IESO (Independent Electricity System Operator) was, at the same time, getting IWT to curtail wind — that amounted to 58,870 MWh**. Those wind power operators were paid $120.00/MWh for curtailed wind and $135.00/MWh for grid-accepted wind.

Wind at 3.7 cents a kilowatt hour? How about 31?

So, collectively over the two days, wind generation and its curtailment alone cost ratepayer $12.448 million or over $312.00/MWh (31.2 cents/KWh).

Over those same two days our net exports (exports minus imports) were 123,960 MWh and most of it was sold at negative prices.   Those 123,960 exported MWh cost Ontario’s ratepayers an average price in excess of $115/MWH, so that was another $14.3 million added to the weekend’s expenses!

It also appears IESO were spilling quite a bit of hydro as well. Scott Luft estimates hydro spillage was somewhere around 50,000 MWh** which would add a further $2.3 million to our expensive weekend.

As if these costs weren’t enough, we also shut one nuclear plant down early Saturday morning and steamed-off nuclear power at Bruce Nuclear — that resulted in another waste of around 43,700 MWh at a cost of $2.884 million which Ontario’s ratepayers are obliged to pay.

And just to put some icing on the cake, our 7,925 MW of gas plants (backing up renewable intermittent wind and solar generation) were idling all weekend at a cost (estimated) of $10,000 per MW of capacity per month. That cost ratepayers about $5.2 million for those two days.

So add up the waste of the two days for curtailed wind of 58,870 MWh, steamed-off nuclear of 50,000 MWh, spilled hydro of 43,700 MWh and net exports of 123,960 MWh you will see Ontario’s ratepayers will pay for 276,530 MWh of unneeded power, or 44.4% of what was actually consumed.

That’s almost $26 million. For one weekend.

If one includes idling gas plants, total costs were north of $31 million to be paid for, but provided absolutely no benefit to Ontario ratepayers!


*Nuclear power alone could have supplied about 85% of total consumption over the 48 hours.

**Thanks to Scott Luft for this information.

Author: parkergallantenergyperspectivesblog

Retired international banker.

9 thoughts on “Ontario’s lavish, expensive electricity weekend”

  1. Hi Parker, how and when do ratepayers pay for all the excess generation, curtailed, steamed and spilled? The rate card I’m looking at from Oakville Hydro says I spent only 6.5cents per kWh for electricity over the weekend.


    1. Not to worry, the difference between what we paid for consumption over the weekend (just over $40 million) and the actual monies paid to the generators (more than double what we were charged) is accumulating either in a Fair Hydro Plan account or is increasing the provincial debt so it will come back to bite us in the future. You will recall until a couple of years ago our bills had that DRC (Debt Retirement Charge) line on them. I foresee a similar line in the future.


      1. Ignorance is bliss? Because we don’t see or pay the real costs, so few rate/taxpayers care? When the AG trashed Wynne’s hidey hole FHP, did she account for this kind of debt accumulation or just the financing plan out to 2040? I doubt this is going into the Ford/Fedeli debt/deficit accounts or they’d say so. Mike


  2. Love what you are doing here. Detailing the wastes of Ontario and Electricity. If this isn’t enough, can you also look at the waste in municipal costs in Calgary, Alberta? We are having a sh*t storm here based on the Nenshi regime wasting money to the point that businesses are going bankrupt because of property tax increases. Also, their next plan is to not cut costs, but to pass those costs to residential customers. It would be a delight to see your review of the specifics of their incompetence.
    Keep it coming. We love your work.


  3. Parker, your articles always provide insights into the adverse effects of all the past decisions by Ontario governments that have so messed up the Ontario electricity policy and pricing regimes. One has to wonder how a theoretically simple objective (i.e. to eliminate coal-fired electricity generation) became so perverted and harmful that it has left a long-term legacy of many tens of billions of dollars in unnecessary costs for Ontario ratepayers and the departure from the province of many firms unwilling to pay the uncompetitive electricity rates. Yet it all happened, and it was largely driven by the ideologically motivated goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by promoting the use of uneconomic wind and solar energy. As we face ever more delirious claims that Canada faces a “climate emergency”, the Ontario electricity experience provides a real life example of what accepting that claim leads to in terms of enormous cost for no net environmental benefit. As they have done for 24 of the last 28 years since 1990, global GHG emissions grew last year.


  4. “Brace for Impact!” Trudeau implies Canada can stop global warming with a price on carbon. Problem there is we only contribute about 2% to GHG emissions. If Canada went to zero little would change. Now he promises 40,000 jobs by putting one time use plastic manufacturers out of business and likely increasing costs to get and maintain fresh food. True the oceans are accumulating plastic, but most is attributed to rivers in less developed countries. We should be ashamed if shipments to the Philippines etc. are going to landfill or worse, but how much flows from our rivers to tidewater? We could probably benefit more from perfecting recycling.


  5. Export losses continue to pile up. We lost just over $32 million in the first four days of this week, $8 million dollars/day. The lower losses of the first four months ($335,183,607) are sparing us from heading north of $2 billion for the year. The HOEP being non-existant at 5/100ths of a cent is contributing to a larger Global Adjustment, which is not charged on exports.

    Liked by 1 person

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