Ontario Peak Electricity Demand Without Gas Plants

No Problem, Simply Plug in Your EV

Curiosity piqued today about Ontario’s “peak demand” yesterday due to the cold weather!  Reviewing IESO data at hour 18 (ending at 6 PM) indicates the January 24th peak was an average of about 21,260 MW.  While searching data on the IESO website it led to the discovery of a letter Jack Gibbons, CEO and Chairman of OCAA (Ontario Clean Air Alliance) had sent to IESO dated June 17, 2021 pushing their agenda to shut down those gas plants.

The letter was humourous as it displayed the way eco-warriors think.  Here is one message from the letter Gibbons believes will work in the event Quebec has no surplus hydro to sell us and/or the wind is not blowing or the sun isn’t shining during one of those “peak demand” hours or days!

One of Gibbons recommendations to eliminate gas fired generation during peak winter and summer hours was:

We can harness our electric vehicles’ (EVs) batteries to provide power to the grid during peak demand hours. According to Ford, its new F-150 Lightning pick-up truck can provide 9.6 kW of power to the electricity grid. Currently, Ontario has 9 million vehicles. If we have 1 million EVs by 2030, they could provide up to 9,600 MW to our grid during our peak demand hours.

Hmm, wonder how that would have worked at hour 18 yesterday?

At that hour our source of electricity came from: nuclear 10,721 MW, gas 5,866 MW, Hydro 5,143 MW, wind 847 MW solar 1 MW and biomass 62 MW.

At that hour wind and solar were operating at about 16.9% of their capacity which wasn’t enough to even supply Quebec’s needs.

At that hour we were exporting (not importing) 1,381 MW to Quebec because their demand was high.

At that hour OPG’s Pickering Nuclear Plant (scheduled to close in 2025) was generating 2,534 MW.

The OCAA under Gibbons is suggesting we would have no problems because all those “electric” F-150 trucks would be fully charged in -25 C weather.  One hopes when the team at IESO read Gibbon’s letter and the above paragraph they burst out in laughter. 

One should wonder if Gibbons bothered to actually do some research as he would have discovered; “As of October 2021, there are 66,757 EVs registered in Ontario” Gibbons should perhaps set up a Ford dealership and get busy selling 933,000 (at a minimum) of those trucks.  He should perhaps also consider the fact not everyone can afford the $58,000 cost and the 370 km limited range which will be considerably less on one of those -25 C days in our Canadian winters! Gibbons and the “charity” he runs apparently want to see Ontarians freeze in the dark as blackouts arrive when those damn batteries don’t deliver those “KW of power” he promised!

IESO Reports IWT Delivered a Miserly 6 MWh at 1 PM on December 30, 2021

The IESO (Independent Electricity System Operator) reports the delivery of MWh (megawatt hours) hourly and also tell us IWT have a grid connected capacity of 4,783 MW representing 13% of all grid connected generation sources. IESO also reports what each generation source supplies to fill the needs of Ontario demand each hour of the day.  It comes as a bit of a shock to look at what happened at 1 PM on December 30th and note that all the IWT capacity generated only 6 MWh or 0.125% (one eighth of one percent) of their capacity at that hour.

IWT have special rights built into their contracts in Ontario granting them “first to the grid” privileges and the foregoing highlights the complete ineptitude of those who granted them those rights!

The foregoing wimpy action shouldn’t be considered the only aberration within the 24 hours as those IWT were exceptional at demonstrating their unreliable and intermittent habits for the full day.

Had those IWT performed at 100% of their capacity they would have delivered 114,792 MWh over the 24 hours but what they actually delivered was 6,185 MWh or 5.3% of their capacity despite their “first to the grid” rights!  To highlight their failures further they delivered 5,254 MWh (84.9%) during low demand hours from 1 AM to 7 AM* and from 8 PM to midnight.

Ontarians should be thankful we have the availability of reliable nuclear, hydro and natural gas plants to step up when wind and solar are absent. The availability of natural gas generated in Canada at affordable rates will prevent the calamities currently evident throughout the UK and EU countries where the cost of electricity has skyrocketed due to wind’s absence.

*Hourly output starts from the time noted by IESO.

Hour 19 on December 8, 2021 Shows Why Ontario needs Gas Generation

Should one bother to look at the Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO) data for hour 19 on December 8th one would note Ontario’s natural gas plants thankfully produced 30.4% (6,399 MWh) of the entire hour’s generation which was just over 21,000 MWh. Without gas generation Ontarians would have experienced rolling backouts much like California does on high demand days.

While gas plants were thankfully, at the ready, our nuclear (8,510 MWh) and hydro (5,076 MWh) plants were reliant as always, generating 64.7% of the hour’s needs.  Collectively those three dependable sectors produced 95.1% of the entire hour’s generation. The balance of 4.9% (1,033 MWh), largely unneeded, came from wind, and biomass as the sun had set so no solar generation was produced.

Ontario demand during the hour was a shade over 20,000 MWh so IESO exported the unneeded generation to Quebec (556 MWh), NY ((369 MWh) and Michigan (452 MWh) and thankfully because demand was higher due to the colder weather the market driven HOEP (hourly Ontario energy price) averaged $94.44/MWh meaning the cost of the surplus generation had a minor impact on costs paid by the ratepayers and taxpayers of the province.

It seems strange Ontario’s ratepayers are much better off when the sun isn’t shining or the winds not blowing hard but that is what the GEEA (Green Energy and Economy Act) brought us.

On an unusually cold day like December 8th we should be thankful for the readily available gas plant generation we have. Those gas plants (contracted to backup intermittent and unreliable wind and solar generation) ensured we would not be hampered by rolling blackouts.

So, all you municipal politicians in Ottawa, Toronto and elsewhere in the province, PLEASE tell us why you are demanding those reliable gas plants should be shut down! 

Norway’s Virtue Signal is Shallow Whereas Canada’s is Harmful

A press release from the Ontario Ministry of Energy, Todd Smith on December 1, 2021 bragged about the province’s support for the “Ivy Charging Network” (a joint venture between OPG and Hydro One).  The press release stated: “The deployment of charging infrastructure will see ONroute locations along highways 401 and 400 equipped with at least two EV chargers at each site, with busier sites equipped with more.“ The press release went on to quote Minister Smith saying; “This deployment will reduce barriers to EV ownership, supporting Ontario’s growing EV manufacturing market.“ Hopefully, the message was simply meant to augment the agreement by the Ford and Trudeau led governments to provide Ford Automotive with $295 million each to save the 5,000 jobs at their Oakville plant by converting it to manufacture EV!

The announcement brought to mind a recent article, with a related video, about Norway and their claim to be “the world’s top market for electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles by market share“!  The article was about testing 20 different models of EVs and hybrid vehicles to determine their loss of “performance” in cold weather (defined as from a high of 3°Cto -6°C). The short video in the article indicated the average loss of performance in that “cold weather” was in the order of about 20%.  Most Canadians would consider that to be classified as; mild winter weather! We should expect our colder winter temperatures would result in a much higher loss of performance should we push for more EVs to replace our dependable and winter reliable ICE automobiles.

Presently about 15% of all registered vehicles in Norway are EVs or hybrids and recent monthly sales of those are now over 80% of all vehicles.  That is seemingly causing some concern as EV and hybrid buyers receive lots of generous tax breaks (ie; the VAT of 25%, free parking, no toll road charges, etc. etc.) which led to a study which “estimated that the popularity of EVs was creating a 19.2 billion Norwegian krone ($2.32 billion) hole in the country’s annual revenue.“  They are suddenly noticing their tax revenues are falling.

Curiosity piqued, if one looks at Norway’s electricity generation one finds it is emissions free with 98% from hydro and 1.7% from other renewables and slightly better than Ontario’s. Annual consumption is 123 TWh (terawatt hours).  On a per capita basis (population of 5.4 million) that means each Norwegian consumes about 23 MWh (megawatt hours).  If one looks at Ontario with a population of 14.6 million, per capita consumption is only 9 MWh for the 132.2 TWh we consumed in 2020 which means the average Ontarian consumes only 39% of the average Norwegian!

I point out the foregoing merely to show if EV sales in Ontario achieve what they are in Norway, Ontario may need a lot more electricity generation at a time when the Pickering Nuclear Station is slated to be shutdown. The Energy Minister’s press release noted as of October 2021 “there are 66,757 EVs registered in Ontario. By 2030, one out of every three automobiles sold will be electric.“ Those current EV registrations are less than 1% of vehicle registrations in Ontario so let us all hope his forecast is wrong!

If we look at Norway and compare it to Canada, we should note they are a major generator of oil and gas with the bulk of it sold to other European countries. In respect to oil and gas production the similarities are striking but while Norway increases their generation of oil and gas to sell to other countries Canada’s current government hamstrings our fossil fuel sector in a variety of ways. Norway’s exports of oil and gas represent about one third of all exports and in Canada’s case it was just north of 14% in 2019.

Interestingly, Canada was among 20 countries that signed on to the COP26 agreement to no longer finance fossil fuel projects abroad but it’s not clear if Norway was one of those countries.  Another article does however note; Norway has lobbied the World Bank to “stop all financing of natural gas projects in Africa and elsewhere as soon as 2025 — and until then only in “exceptional circumstances “ The article’s summary highlights the hypocrisy of Norway by summing up with the closing sentence: “It is antithetical to say you support energy development abroad — but only when it is green — while admitting green energy cannot be the only source. Norway can’t have its cake and eat it too, not when it comes to energy development.”

While Norway’s position is shallow it protects their economic wellbeing as a benefit to their citizens whereas, Canada under PM Justin Trudeau, seems determined to destroy our economy to the detriment of all Canadians!

Oops, They did it again and again—those Industrial Wind Turbines

Ontario’s industrial wind turbines (IWT) recently reminded me of the Britney Spears hit in the year 2000, “Opps…I Did It Again” and like she repeated in the song; Ontario’s IWT have, “done it again”!  How wind performed on November 9, 2021 is atypical! At the midnight hour those IWT generated quite a bit of unneeded power running at 37% of rated capacity (4,568MW) generating 1,693 MW but eleven hours later they were generating only 65 MW and running at 1.5% of rated capacity (4,307MW) when demand was considerably higher.

If we jump ahead to the following day November 10, 2021, at Hour 5 (5AM to 6AM) those IWT were running at 21.4% of their capacity generating 959 MW but by 11 AM their output had collapsed and they were running at only 1.7 % of capacity producing 72 MW despite the fact demand had increased quite a bit from 5 AM.

As one should surmise, unlike nuclear, hydro or gas generation; IWT (solar also) generation is dependent on the weather. As is obvious, from just the past two days, IWT are extremely intermittent and therefore should be considered unreliable. Thanks to the McGuinty/Wynne led Ontario Liberals IWT were granted special treatment commanding “first to the grid” advantageous rights.

Needless to say, Ontario’s grid operator, IESO, must deal with the vagaries of generation from IWT presumably causing much more intense scrutiny in situations where demand is increasing but variable generation from wind and solar is falling. The same situation applies when demand is falling but variable generation from IWT are quickly rising.  Their job would be much easier without variable generation and ratepayer bills would undoubtedly be quite a bit lower!

It would be a much better scenario without variable wind and solar instead of getting ready for the “Oops” when we in Ontario experience the problems they had to confront  in California, South Australia, the UK (in time for COP 26) and of course the Texas power crisis in February of this year that cost many lives.

Hey, Premier Ford, take away the special rights granted to those IWT and: “don’t, do it again”!

PS: A contact of mine sent me this graph that shows the ups and downs of industrial wind generation outlined above. A picture is worth a thousand words as the expression goes!

Wind really Wimps-out in Hour 18 in Ontario and pretty well the whole day

Yesterday (November 4, 2021) for hour 18 industrial wind generation (IWT) in Ontario supplied 153 MWh out of total demand (approximately), including net exports (1,547 MW) that averaged about 18,750 MW during that hour.  The 153 MWh generated by those IWT represented a miserly 0.82% of total demand at that hour despite their capacity level of 4,310 MW or about 15% of total available capacity at that hour.

For the full 24 hours IWT peak generation occurred at hour 2 when they managed to achieve 336 MWh of generation or 2.2% of total (approximately) demand. IWT have a perennial habit of generating power when it’s not needed, like the middle of the night!

Ontario’s ratepayers should be thankful we have baseload power available from our nuclear and hydro capacity coupled with the 8,378 MW of flexible gas generation.  For the hour ending at 6 PM our flexible gas generated provided 4,388 MWh as many of us were perhaps cooking our supper!

Based on what happens far too frequently with grids with a high dependency on wind and solar such as California, Texas and Southern Australia they are often not generating power when its needed and causes rolling brownouts or blackouts.

A recent example of IWT on-shore and off-shore fallibilities occurred in the UK during the COP 26 Conference in Glasgow when the UK’s abundant IWT failed miserably and in order to keep the lights on they had to fire up some coal plants to meet critical demand.

Intermittent and unreliable IWT and solar are not the answer to either replacing fossil fuel generation nor bringing developing countries reliable energy generation to get them out of poverty!  

Gas Plants Saved Ontarians from Rolling Blackouts During Peak Demand Month

While the month and year are not over yet it appears that August 2021 will win the prize for most peak hours. Despite being a few days away from the arrival of September, August looks set to dominate as eight (8) of the ten (10) peak demand hours have occurred in August. Based on weather forecasts; demand should fall over the balance of the month and into early September.

August 26, 2021 peak demand hour (ending at hour 15) looks set to be the second highest at 22,740 MW but may be subject to minor adjustment by IESO. August 24, 2021 ending at hour 17 currently stands as the highest (22,956 MW) peak demand hour so far this year.

It is interesting to pull together some of the data for those eight “peak demand” August hours to examine how we made it through without experiencing rolling blackouts or brownouts!

Cumulatively the eight August peak demand hours show total Ontario demand was 178,645 MWh and the bulk of that was provided by nuclear and hydro which we tend to think of as “baseload” power although hydro is flexible (we can simply spill it) and some nuclear (Bruce) can be steamed off.

Those familiar with the electricity system in Ontario and the GEA (green energy act) will recall industrial wind turbines (IWT) were granted “first to the grid” rights treating them as ranking higher than baseload power.  That changed as we were frequently flooded with excess power (particularly from IWT) due to their intermittent and unreliable output and had to pay our neighbours to take the excess! The ability of IWT and solar to produce power when it was actually needed escaped the politicians (McGuinty/Wynne) thought processes so eventually IWT generators agreed to be paid for “curtailing” their generation. Their tendency is to generate power in the low demand periods of the Spring and Fall!

So, the question is, how did IWT and solar perform during those (8) August “peak hours”?

As it turns out wind and solar managed (on a combined basis) to only produce 5,593 MWh (an average of 872 MW per hour) over the 8 peak hours which represented a mere 4.9% of demand.  Ontario gas plants which are referenced as “peaking plants” were thankfully at the ready and generated 47,808 MWh or 26.8% of “peak demand”.

What the foregoing highlights is that without gas plants Ontario ratepayers would have experienced both rolling brownouts and blackouts for those 8 peak hours along with many other August hours and days that were devoid of meaningful “renewable” (IWT & solar) generation.

Based on the foregoing we ratepayers would appreciate those thirty (30) municipalities and their elected representatives to explain exactly why they endorsed the OCAA’s (Ontario Clean Air Alliance) push to tell the Provincial Government to shut down all of Ontario’s gas plants.  As an alternative they should simply rescind their council motion(s) directing the Ontario Minister of Energy to shut the gas plants!

Do those municipalities have a solution for rolling blackouts and brownouts that would be caused by the lack of “peaking power” or are they simply delusional politicians?

You be the judge!

Another Peak Demand Hour and Wind is Missing

As we have come to expect in Ontario, “peak demand” generally occurs on hot summer days and the hour ending at hour 17 on August 20th was the most recent occurrence coming in at # 8 of “peak demand hours” so far this year.

Demand at the above hour reached 21,569 MW and the bulk of that needed demand was supplied by Nuclear, Hydro and Natural Gas generators. At that hour gas plants supplied 25.9% (5,587 MW) of demand while wind generators managed to produce only 0.45% (98 MW) of demand and the bulk (53 MW) of that came from the Greenwich Renewable Energy Project a 99 MW station located Northeast of Thunder Bay so none of their generation was useful in the well populated areas of the province. The other 40 plus wind turbine generating stations scattered throughout the province produced only 45 MW which probably didn’t even cover their consumption during that hour.

The foregoing fact is something you will not hear from the OCAA (Ontario Clean Air Alliance) whose push is to close out gas plants. The OCAA’s push to close gas plants has reputedly been endorsed by 30 Ontario Municipalities representing over 50% of the province’s population. 

In an effort to push the alarm button further the OCAA has called for all their followers to: “Please contact Ontario’s new Minister of Energy, Todd Smith, and ask him to direct the IESO to develop and implement a plan to achieve a complete phase-out of our gas-fired power plants by 2030.”

What Jack Gibbons the Chair and CEO of OCAA doesn’t seem to understand is that the events of hour 17 are frequent during the very hot days of summer and the very cold days during the winter.  If Minister of Energy, Todd Smith, followed through with the OCAA’s recommendations Ontario’s ratepayers would be faced with numerous brownouts and even full blackouts during the dead of winter and the heat of summer.

I would suggest the ratepayers of Ontario should write a letter to the councils of the 30 municipalities informing them of the above facts and recommending they rescind their endorsement to shut down Ontario’s gas plants by 2030 as proposed by the OCAA.

You can find the full list of the municipalities that have endorsed the closure by simply clicking on the following.

Ontario Municipalities that have endorsed gas power phase-out

Comparing Ontario Covid-19 Lockdowns in Reducing Electricity Demand

Earlier this year IESO released their 2020 stats and noted Ontario’s electricity demand fell 2.1% (down 2.9 terawatt hours [TWh]) from 2019 or about what 325,000 average households would consume in a year.

In 2020 the first full lockdowns in Ontario started in late March and basically stayed in place until late June/early July when some relief was allowed.  The current year’s lockdown looks very similar!  So, did the 2021 lockdowns result in further consumption reductions compared to the same quarter in 2020?

As it turns out consumption in the current April, May, June quarter saw a jump of 1.4 TWh compared to the same three months of 2020. That 1.4 TWh increase (up 4.7%) represents what 625.000 average Ontario households would consume in three months.  Ontario’s ratepayers consumed 29.724 TWh in the three months of 2020 and in 2021 consumption jumped to 31.130 TWh.

The GA (global adjustment) for 2021 totaled $2.687 billion and adding the average of the HOEP (hourly Ontario energy price) of $15.50/MWh for the three months brings the total cost to Ontario’s ratepayers and taxpayers (taxpayers are now picking up a large portion of the electricity costs) to $3.169,5 billion! The latter total indicates an average cost of approximately 10.2 cents/kWh (kilowatt hour) with the math simply being: $3.169,5 billion divided by consumption of 31.130 TWh.

The GA for 2020 was considerably higher as the Ford government capped the GA at $115/MWh (megawatt hour) due to the concern it would spike, so it totaled $3.825,7 billion and coupled with the average HOEP (average $8.10/MWh for the three months) brought the total cost to $4.066,4 billion.  That means the cost per kWh in 2020 for the same three months looks to be about 13.7 cents/kWh.

So, one should wonder, why the drop in average costs if consumption increased 4.7%?  

Well as it turns out our net exports (exports minus imports) declined 2.9 TWh so in 2021 that decline saved Ontarians about $425 million for those three months as we didn’t have to eat the GA of $115/MWh and the average HOEP (the sale price) was higher (up $7.40/MWh) so in 2021 we got a little more for each MWh we sold.  Additionally, curtailed wind declined by 183K MWh* saving us another $22 million.  I suspect we also didn’t spill as much hydro or steam-off nuclear which would also have reduced 2021 costs but that information is not disclosed as yet.  Less solar generation in 2021 may also have played a role at reducing costs.

It becomes obvious Ontario’s grid; supplied principally with nuclear and hydro supplemented by gas generation would produce lower costs. For all of 2020 nuclear and hydro supplied 94.3% of Ontario demand and cheap and reliable gas easily supplied the balance.  The intermittent and unreliable supply of wind and solar at the exorbitant contracted 20-year rates does nothing to reduce emissions while burdening ratepayers and taxpayers with much higher costs. 

The three-month comparison highlights the mess created by the previous Liberal Government(s) under the leadership of the McGuinty/Wynne terms as Premiers of the Province and their enactment of the Green Energy Act coupled with those contracts signed with wind and solar generators during their time in power.

*Thanks to Scott Luft for tracking industrial wind generation and curtailment monthly.

No Peaking Without Gas

As summer in Ontario finally arrived temperatures rose over the past few days and resulted in IESO reporting, so far in 2021, hour 18 of June 28, 2021 is the #1 peak hour with demand reaching 22,258 MW (megawatts).  While that is the highest demand hour so far in 2021 it is by no means the highest peak over the past three years with September 5, 2018 at hour 18 reaching 23,240 MW.

Nuclear was operating at close to 100% capacity at hour 18 generating just over 47% of peak demand and hydro 22% of demand and operating at almost 69% of capacity. Our gas plants thankfully were at the ready generating slightly more than 26.5% of our peak demand and operating at 63% of their capacity.

The remaining generation capacity consisting of wind (4,500 MW), solar (438 MW) and biomass (238 MW) managed to only produce 13.9% of their capacity (just over 3% of demand) or a miserly 716 MW during the peak hour. In other words, they weren’t performing when we actually needed them!  As a result, IESO imported power from Michigan and New York when prices hit their peak for the day of $232.79/MWh.  Those two states regularly buy Ontario’s surplus power and in 2020, on average, they purchased it for $13.90/MWH.  Interestingly according to the US IEA; “Natural gas accounted for 33% of the state’s (Michigan) net generation, while coal’s share declined to 27%.” What that means is we were importing fossil fuel generation.  That should upset the eco-warriors and the Federal Liberals under Trudeau who want to eliminate all usage of fossil fuels and reach net-zero emissions by 2050 or perhaps they think the pain should only be inflicted on Canadians?

Looking to the future one wonders what will happen should Ontario see those 27 municipalities; (who have signed on to the Ontario Clean Air Alliance’s [OCAA] push for all gas plants to be shut down) get what they asked for.  Where is the peaking power going to come from as it won’t come from intermittent and unreliable sources like wind and solar?  Perhaps all the Ontario EV drivers will agree to provide all the power that gas generation previously did as envisaged by the OCAA.  We can anticipate those same EV car owners will be told, as they were very recently in California, when they can’t charge their batteries or we will experience brownouts and/or blackouts.  

Also, what happens if a peak demand day comes on a cold winter day in January (one did on January 21, 2019) after the 67% of homes currently using natural gas as a heating source are forced to convert to electric heat?  Where will that additional electricity generation come from as EV lose a large percentage of their power in cold weather?

From all perspectives it seems the eco-warriors and our Federal government aim to punish all low and middle-income households in the province in their efforts to deliver on their religious beliefs.

Mankind cannot control the sun or Mother Nature so why is it so difficult for them to understand!