The Ontario Clean Air Alliance (OCAA) under Jack Gibbons was busy throughout 2021 making the rounds of various cities and municipalities throughout Ontario convincing them they should tell the Ford government to close all the natural gas plants in the province. A total of 32 cities and municipalities joined hands with Gibbons thanks to inept (the only descriptive that made sense) councils and told the government of Ontario to shut those gas plants. Gibbons somehow convinced them Quebec has a huge surplus of hydro generation that will easily replace those gas plants when our power demand needs them. Apparently, none of those councils bothered to investigate Gibbons claim.
Gibbons bio indicates he is an “economist” and reportedly “studied economics at the University of Toronto (B.A.), Queen’s University (M.A.) and the University of British Columbia“! We should have serious doubts about his claim based on the rhetoric associated with his push to close the gas plants. Gibbons comes across like a pitchman selling snake oil in the 18th and early 19th centuries.
If any of the mayors or council members bothered to do even a little research they would have discovered Quebec’s peak demand occurs in the winter. Hydro Quebec encourage their ratepayers to use less power during the December to March period as 61% of households use electricity to heat their homes versus only about 17% in Ontario.
If the Ford led government in Ontario responded to the OCAA desires the results would have a negative effect on households in both provinces but in particular Quebec due to their peak winter demand*.
A recent four (4) days of cold winter weather in both Ontario and Quebec dispel the “Gibbons/OCAA” notion! Ontario was called on to provide considerable power to Quebec over those four days and without the availability of our natural gas plants (most of which were built to back up intermittent and unreliable wind and solar generation) our ability to provide that power would have been close to NIL as our Ontario demand was also relatively high.
Over the four days commencing January 13th through to January 16th we exported just over 106,000 MWh (megawatt hours) to Quebec for an average of 1,104 MW/hour and the peak day was the 16th with an average of 1,410 MW/hour. Over those four days Ontario’s gas plants generated just over 395,000 MW so we were able to provide our neighbours with what they needed (27% of our gas plant generation) to keep those electric furnaces and baseboard heaters operating so they would avoid blackouts and freezing households. We provided those 106,000 MW at an average cost of less than 5 cents/kWh based on the HOEP prices over those four days so their cost didn’t drive up Hydro Quebec’s energy prices whereas Ontario’s ratepayers lost money on every kWh exported.
Carbon Credits please
Perhaps Hydro Quebec should either provide Ontario with “carbon credits” or pay the Federal “carbon tax” for the power supplied, allowing us to recover some of the costs for that natural gas generated power to keep them warm. Unfortunately, Ontarians should doubt that will ever happen!
* In Québec, peak periods occur during winter because so many of us heat our homes with electricity.