Thursday, July 4, 2013

CTV reports on one symptom of Ontario's surplus generation

CTV's Paul Bliss reported on the cost of curtailing generation at Bruce Power's nuclear units.  The report had some information not available elsewhere.

Exclusive: Ontario spending millions to halt surplus electricity production | CTV Toronto News:
Bruce Power has turned five units off at different times this year to cut supply for a total down time of 40 days. Since the plant is paid about $1 million per day, it cost Ontario $40 million for reactors to idle.
Bruce also conducted steam diversions from turbines to cut power production 84 times this year, which is the equivalent of approximately 22 unit days offline. For that, the plant was paid $22 million to vent steam into the air instead of operating turbines.
In total, $62 million was paid to the Bruce plant this year to suppress electricity production.
The full article, and more comprehensive video report, are at CTV Toronto News

I think some context on the figures is important, both for understanding the role of the curtailments in the rapidly escalating prices Ontarians are, or soon will be, experiencing, and to understand while they'll be experiencing escalating escalations.

Slide from Amir Shalaby APPrO 2012 Conference Presentation
In the first half of 2013 Ontario demand has been essentially flat according by the IESO figures (the Independent Electricity System Operator - featured in Bliss' report); the total combined market value of Ontario's consumption, plus total global adjustment charges, are up 15%, or ~$725 million.

So $60 million is not a big number driving inflation.

A bigger number, not reported anywhere, would be for solar.  Estimating from Ontario Power Authority (OPA)quarterly reports, I've estimated solar costs to be up ~$130 million in the first half of 2013 (from the same period in 2012).

With additional intermittent renewables contracted to come online, the situation with surplus generation is anticipated to worsen through 2015.  According to a recent presentation from an OPA expert, it will be 2018 before surplus generation is less of an issue than it is now.

The implication in the report is that we are now experiencing the worst of the surplus generation, but that is not likely.  As Parker Gallant recently noted the forecast is for record high electricity prices.

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