We ratepayers and taxpayers must assume IESO, who control the Ontario electricity grid, look at weather forecasts daily as they post data with hourly forecasted generation we will get from wind and solar over the 24 hours. They don’t do that for baseload generation such as nuclear and hydro or even natural gas but do for the two intermittent and unreliable sources of electricity.
The question becomes did IESO look at longer term weather forecasts confident IWT (industrial wind turbines) would replace the baseload of the 3,000 MW capacity of Pickering Nuclear (related to the VBO [Vacuum Building Outage])? Then again, on October 13th, did IESO bless Bruce Nuclear closure of their G8 unit with a capacity of 800 MW for maintenance (?) confident we ratepayers would have sufficient power?
Suddenly Ontario is without baseload capacity of about 3,800 MW (about what 3 million average Ontario households consume daily) but no problems or worries about rolling blackouts or smart meter control to reduce consumption. IWT have apparently stepped in to fill the gap.
Looking at the past three days clearly demonstrates how IWT are intermittent but not just hourly, as has been obvious from reviewing their generation since the first of them were planted in rural communities in the province. Their proven habits in the past decade have shown their generation is skewed with lots of generation in the Spring and Fall when demand is low but come hot summer days or very cold winter days when peak demand is often well over 20,000 MW they hardly show up.
October 12th IWT generated over 74,000 MWh and had another 5,000 MWh curtailed meaning they could have operated at over 67% of capacity. Peak demand reached 16,290 MW at hour 19. October 13th they generated about 42,500 MWh and had only about 500 MWh curtailed so combined; operated at over 36% of capacity. Peak demand again occurred at hour 19 reaching 16,277 MW. On October 14th those IWT were still humming generating 55,500 MWh and had another 7,900 MWh curtailed so combined they operated at 53.9% of rated capacity. Ontario’s peak hour once again struck at hour 19 reaching only 15,444 MW. Over those three days IWT operated at an average of 52.6% of capacity whereas over a full year they average in the range of 29/30%.
The positive outcome from the missing 3,800 MW of baseload was the HOEP remained at reasonable market levels whereas if one looks at past HOEP averages it was $13.90/MWh in 2020 and $28.50/MWh in 2021. What that suggests is Class B ratepayers/taxpayers reduced their subsidization of our surplus exports and Class A customers. This current lack of the 3,800 MW of baseload power will help to drive up the HOEP continuing the drop in our subsidies. The negative is our manufacturing sector will experience higher costs for their electricity consumption.
In summary we should be confident IESO, by allowing the nuclear shutdowns, were not forecasting weather events over the next month or more. IESO were simply looking at data from the past which consistently shows the large drop in demand during our Spring and Fall seasons and based on past bad habits were confident those IWT would do as they have done for most years. They also knew those natural gas plants were at the ready when the wind isn’t blowing.
We will need that baseload power back operating when the cold weather is upon us in the coming winter as those IWT will once again show us how they are missing in action when needed.
It sure appears IESO has looked back and is confident history will repeat itself!
NB: The first 13 hours of October 15th indicate IWT generation plus curtailed power has them operating at 77.9% of capacity collectively showing 49,614 MWh.