The past couple of days in Ontario have demonstrated the ups and downs of energy demand both from those of us in Ontario and our neighbours tied to us via the intertie grids.
February 2, 2023
Starting with February 2, 2023, examining IESO data, clearly demonstrates the ups and downs of demand for electricity coupled with the market price variation (HOEP) of overproduction of IWT (industrial wind turbines). The wind was blowing hard all through the day but with baseload nuclear and hydro providing most of the demand what wasn’t needed was most of the power being generated by IWT. IESO forecast IWT would generate 94,503 MW over the full day (80.3% of capacity) but it wasn’t needed. Recorded output was 72,115 MW (61.3% of capacity) meaning IESO instructed IWT owners to curtail almost 22,400 MW. As most Ontario ratepayers know the IWT contracts provides them with “first-to-the-grid” rights and also pays for curtailed power at the rate of $120/MWh and $135/MWh for the accepted power. For the full 24 hours on the day the price allocated for accepted and curtailed IWT generation amounted to over $12.4 million in costs to Ontario’s ratepayers/taxpayers and about $172/MWh in costs for the accepted power.
Coupled with the foregoing; as demand was low for most of the day, the market price (HOEP) averaged $3.12/MWh so IESO were busy disposing of unneeded power for pennies of its costs. Even at the daily peak hour (Hour 19) the HOEP was only $5.18/MWh. For the full day exported power was 41,911 MW representing 58.1% of the generation IESO accepted from IWT. If one assumes the unneeded power from IWT represented all of the exported power or caused it, the cost added to the 30,200 MW of IWT generation consumed by Ontario ratepayers is another $7.1 million bringing the cost of the 30,200 MWh, added to the grid, to $11.2 million or $370/MWh (.37cents/kWh).
The happenings on February 2nd once again demonstrate how we Ontarians continue to provide cheap power to our neighbours. We do that by absorbing the costs of those intermittent and unreliable IWT sprinkled throughout the province allowing our neighbours to buy our surplus energy for pennies on the dollar while we eat the costs.
February 3, 2023
February 3, 2023, turned out to be a “Top 10” Ontario peak demand day reaching 21,388 MW and 24,821 MW for the “market peak” at Hour 19! The result was the HOEP for the full day averaged about $41.70/MWh. While that represents a large jump from the prior day those IWT were still costing us a lot more then the aforementioned HOEP average.
To put the foregoing in context, IESO data in the first 5 hours forecast IWT generation would be 18,795 MW but they only accepted 13,838 MW meaning about 5,150 MW were curtailed and the HOEP over those 5 hours was a piddly 0.62 cents/MWh. If one, then calculates the HOEP for the remaining 19 hours in the day it becomes $56.60/MWh so, much higher than the first 5 hours! Continuing to look at those 5 hours it becomes apparent we Ontarians absorbed the costs of almost $2.5 million to generate those 13,715 MW. Hopefully our neighbours in NY, Michigan and Quebec appreciate our generosity for those MW which was very close to the IESO accepted IWT generation.
Looking at the full day, IWT were forecast by IESO to generate 69,174 MW but their output was 62,940 MW meaning we paid for around 6,200 MW of curtailed generation but as noted in the preceding paragraph only about 1,000 MW more were curtailed in the following nineteen hours. Over the day IESO were busy selling off approximately 87,000 MW to our neighbours in Michigan, NY and Quebec with the latter taking well over a third of them. The last point should be no surprise as Quebec is a winter peaking province and on February 2nd Hydro Quebec asked their customers to reduce their electricity consumption due to the anticipated cold starting late Thursday night.
The other interesting happening related to generation on February 3rd was how much gas generation there was over the day. Ontario’s natural gas plants produced 88,172 MW which coincidently was only slightly higher than our total exports. It is worth pointing out when a MWh of natural gas is generated ratepayers are only paying the raw costs of the natural gas plus a small markup as the capital costs and the approved ROA (return on assets) have been included in the price of electricity since those plants were originally commissioned. In other words once a gas plant is operating it generates power that is very much cheaper compared to both wind and solar.
About 60% of households in Quebec heat with electric furnaces or electric baseboards so are dependent on electricity to stay warm during cold winter days. For that reason we should suspect Ontario’s natural gas plants may have played a key role in ensuring those Quebecers were able to avoid a blackout on the recent very cold days we have just experienced.
The other thing Ontario’s natural gas plants may well be doing is allowing Quebec EV owners to recharge their EV batteries. Approximately 10% of all new cars registered in Quebec* are EV possibly due to the large $8,000. grant the province provides to purchase them. Interestingly, while Hydro Quebec tells households to turn down their heat and avoid using certain appliances during peak hours, they say nothing about when you should or shouldn’t charge your EV.
The generosity of Ontarians is astounding due to the treatment of IWT and the contracts in place providing those “first-to-the-grid” rights. On top of that, if we are subsidizing the sales of our IWT surplus power to other markets where it may be used to charge EV it just doesn’t seem quite right!
Maybe the Ford Government should ask Quebec to provide Ontario with carbon credits to offset the “emissions” of our natural gas plants that keep their people warm in the winter!
*A September 22, 2022 New York Times article stated the following about EV in Quebec: “Quebec has 150,000 electric vehicles on the road, compared with 113,000 in New York State, an indication of how ubiquitous charging can encourage ownership.“