Wednesday, November 13, 2013

A record week for Ontario wind

Each week I update my estimates/shadow reporting of the Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO) data reports; the IESO reports weeks as running from Wednesday to Tuesday.
I reference the first Wednesday of the year as marking week 1; today we begin week 46.

Weekly supply mix chart (from data site)
Week 45 was pretty interesting.
It set at least one record - the highest reporting output from the industrial wind turbines on the IESO grid.

The week also contained the hour of highest IWT output, which is currently hour 11 of the 11th day of the 11th month [1].

Coupled with high nuclear production levels, this plentiful supply resulted in an average Hourly Ontario Energy Price (HOEP) of $10.23/MWh; that is the second lowest weekly average since the market began (record low is week 14 of 2009, at the depth of the recession and the height of the freshet).

A twitter exchange has motivated me to write a quick entry on the cost of Ontario's changed supply mix at this time of year (all of impacts being predicted by the data analysis behind an earlier blog post).

In Ontario, high supply and low prices end up being very expensive for consumers.

Low emissions from electricity production is wonderful, but the reality we know is that because gas, and coal, generation essentially receives payment to exist, the incremental cost of generation from those sources is cheap.
Flipped around, any generation that displaces previous years' levels of production from natural gas-fired generators is displacing production valued around $30/MWh - so the output of Bruce A reactors would cost $40-$50 more than the gas-fired generation it displaced, and new wind generators getting the feed-in tariff rate of $135 would cost over $100/MWh more.

Each week I graph the changes - and for week 45, it's good for the environment (higher wind, nuclear and imports - which come primarily from Quebec and are therefore hydro) -- and that will be very expensive for Ontario's ratepayers.
for a better view, the graph is interactive on the data site
What's really shocking to me, with the history of producing this weekly, is that the output from the hydroelectric producers on the IESO's grid is down on the week.

Consider that in light of the reported water levels of the great lakes; Ontario, Superior and Huron are over a foot higher than a year ago.

I have not developed a method of estimating how much hydro is spilled when the wind blows, but I have developed tools to estimate how much nuclear and non-utility generator production is curtailed,as well as estimating how much power is fed directly (primarily from Saunders) into Quebec's grid.

The figures (a copy of the spreadsheet is here) indicate about 30% of the record weekly wind production resulted in the curtailment of other, cheaper, supply.

The hydro figures show other supply was curtailed too, but we don't get reporting on that.
There is also no reporting on how much wind production is being curtailed

Much of the potential wind supply that is not curtailed, or pushing other supply into being curtailed, is bound for export markets.  The export figures show much of the remaining production was sold not at the $135/MWh being paid, but at around the $10/MWh HOEP.

If you have shares in TransAlta, or Suncor, or Enbridge, or the other companies owning Ontairo's industrial wind turbines, you can celebrate a record week of wind production with a fine vintage.

If not, you might wait until you see the global adjustment charge on the bill for November ... and then recognize the accomplishment with a spot of tea as you try and keep warm.

[1] The record hourly output was surpassed multiple times by the end of the day this was posted (Nov. 13th)

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