The IESO (Independent Electricity System Operator) released 2017 data for grid-connected* generation and consumption and, surprise! The data reveal that power from wind and solar is surplus to Ontario’s energy needs.
IESO reported Ontario’s consumption/demand fell 4.9 TWh (terawatt hours) in 2017 to 132.1 TWh. That’s a drop equivalent to 3.6% from the prior year.
Nuclear (90.6 TWh) and hydro (37.7 TWh) power generation was 128.3 TWh, making up 97.1% of Ontario’s total demand (without including dispatched power from either nuclear or hydro). The cost to Ontario ratepayers for the 128.3 TWh was approximately $7.6 billion or 5.9 cents/kWh.
Spilled hydro (paid for by Ontario’s ratepayers but not used) reported by Ontario Power Generation or OPG was 4.5 TWh for the first nine months of 2017. Out that together with 511 nuclear manoeuvres and the number is 959.2 GWh (gigawatt hours) wasted but paid for by Ontario’s ratepayers. Add in three nuclear shutdowns and it means Ontario’s nuclear and hydro generation alone could have easily supplied more than 136 TWh of power or over 103% of demand.
That doesn’t include spilled hydro in the last quarter of 2017 which will probably exceed at least one TWh.
Nuclear and hydro does it all
Nuclear and hydro could also have supplied a large portion of net exports (exports less imports) had all the generation potential actually been delivered to the grid. Net exports totaled 12.5 TWh in 2017. Grid connected wind (9.2 TWh) and solar (0.5 TWh) in 2017 supplied 9.7 TWh and their back-up generation: from gas plants, supplied 5.9 TWh. In all, the latter three sources delivered 15.6 TWh or 124.8% of net exports. Net exports were sold well below the average cost of generation. Exports brought in revenue of about $400 million, but here’s the kicker: that surplus power cost Ontario’s ratepayers $1.4 billion, which is really a loss of $1 billion.
Grid-connected wind, solar and gas generation collectively cost approximately $3.5 billion for the 15.6 TWh they delivered to the grid, included curtailed (paid for but not used) wind power generation of 3.3 TWh. The cost of the wind power was more than $220 million per TWh, or 22 cents/kWh. That’s almost double the Class B average rate of 11.55 cents/kWh cited in IESO’s 2017 year-end results.
The 9.7 TWh generated by wind and solar was unneeded. If it had been required, it could have been replaced by gas power generation at a cost of only around two cents per kWh. Why? Gas generators are guaranteed payment of about $10K per MW (average) of their capacity per month to be at the ready and if called on to generate power are paid fuel costs plus a small markup.
Price tag: $2 billion
In other words, if no grid-connected wind or solar generation existed in Ontario in 2017 the bill to ratepayers would have been about $2 billion** less! Grid-connected wind generation (including curtailed) cost ratepayers in excess of $1.7 billion and grid-connected solar added another $250 million!
That $2 billion, coincidentally, is about the same cost estimate of the annual amount to be deferred, and paid by future rate increases via the Fair Hydro Plan! In other words the current government could have easily saved future generations the estimated $40 billion plus cost of the Fair Hydro Plan by having never contracted for wind and solar generation!
The IESO results for 2017 sure makes me wonder: why hasn’t the Ontario Ministry of Energy canceled all the wind power projects that have not yet broken ground?
* Distributor connected solar (2,200 MW) and wind (600 MW) added over $1.4 billion to the GA.
** The first 6 months of the variance account under the Fair Hydro Plan in 2017 was $1,378.4 million.