Monday, August 29, 2011

Sunday Sees Record Low Pricing in Ontario’s Electricity Market

The official daily report from the system operator shows August 28th’s  an average HOEP at $-22.58 (weighted average of $-17.53/MWh).  This is the lowest average price throughout a single day on record – breaking a record set only January 1st.  

A number of elements combined to drive the price down.  The most obvious of these is simply the reduced demand of a cool August Sunday.  The average Ontario demand, of 14,146 MW, was the lowest since late in June.

But the reduced demand also worked in tandem with 2 other factors.  The traditional Ontario one was an increasingly suspect supply mix and economically inept procurement policies.  On this cool August day, all of Ontario’s nuclear units were operating, and Ontario’s industrial wind turbines were having their second highest daily output of the summer.  The nuclear units at Bruce B reduced output (through the steam bypass that should be made requisite in upcoming refurbishments), but the IWT output thoughtlessly continued, with the cost of attempting to export the unnecessary, ill-timed, output adding to the already excessive cost of the unnecessary contracts.

And finally, it appears the export markets simply weren’t available to the extent they usually are.  As imports ground to a halt, export levels were only slightly above the summer's average, despite paying, at times, as much as $128.40/MWh in an attempt to find a grid to take our excess production.

While the day was exceptional, the issues that caused the record, negative, pricing are systemic.  Export markets are not becoming more lucrative.  Surplus baseload generation, which can be seen each night in the above graph, has been a growing problem for a long-time now, and it continues to grow as the supply mix becomes increasingly less flexible (with the return of 2 nuclear units next year and a 50% increase in wind capacity).

It is only a matter of time until new market pricing lows are set.

The call for a moratorium, on procuring new supply, does not seem to have been heard.
The call to renege on existing contracts probably will be.
That too, is only a matter of time.


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