Winds Whips Hydro in Ontario or So It Appears
As December 1, 2021 drew to a close at Hour 22 on the IESO “Generators Output and Capability Report” wind generation suddenly passed hydro generation and stayed ahead of it for the following 20 hours, pausing at Hour 19 on December 2nd but passing hydro again for hours 20 and 21. Over those 23 hours wind (as reported by IESO) reputedly out-produced Ontario’s hydro generation by almost 21,000 MWh. Based on IESO data it appears about 2,700 MWh of wind generation was also curtailed. What IESO data doesn’t disclose is how much hydro was spilled over those 23 hours.
For wind and solar data IESO report it on three lines by hour; “Available Capacity, Forecast and Output”. When hydro is “spilled” or nuclear is “steamed off” we won’t see that reported by IESO and are uninformed until financial reports from OPG or Bruce Power are released. OPG’s 9-month financial report for September 30, 2021 indicates they spilled 1.7 TWh (terawatt hours) due to SBG (surplus baseload generation) to that point in the year. Hydro spillage is paid for by ratepayers and so far, has added over $100 million to this year’s electricity bill. The 1.7 TWh is equivalent to (approximately) what 250,000 average households would have consumed over those 9 months.
The reasoning by IESO as to whether they will spill hydro or curtail wind (which we also pay for) is reputedly determined by the HOEP (hourly Ontario electricity price). Most contracted IWT (industrial wind turbines) are paid $135/MWh and $120/MWh if curtailed. IESO in situations that create SBG will sell off the surplus (if the HOEP is high enough) before they spill hydro or steam off nuclear. It has never been clear to many why the contracts awarded for either IWT or solar panels were granted “first to the grid” rights but both of those intermittent and unreliable generation sources were, so we must pay them even if the generation is unneeded!
A quick look at the costs for those 23 hours
The 2,700 MWh (approximately) of curtailed wind meant generators were paid $120/MWh costing $324,000. Those same IWT generators were paid $135/MWh for the 98,800 MWh of accepted wind amounting to $13,338,000. To top off the costs for the 23 hours favouring wind generation, OPG was paid $60/MWh for spilling hydro (minimally estimated at 21,000 MWh) adding $1,260.000 and bringing total costs to $14,922,000 for the 23 hours!
The $14,922,000 represents a cost of $151/MWh for the 98,800 MWh of accepted wind generation but doesn’t include costs associated with the gas plant backups for wind and solar which would add another $3 million or so for the 23 hours nor does it include losses from selling power to our neighbours.
On the latter, IESO were selling off approximately 2,500 MW hourly to our neighbours in Michigan, NY etc. for the HOEP average price of about $30/MWh. Those 60,000 MWh therefore generated about $1.8 million reducing the total cost above to $13,122,000. If we accept the fact those exports were IWT generated the remaining 38,800 MWh supplying local ratepayers cost $340/MWh.
Had OPG provided those 38,800 MWh the cost would have been $60/MWh ($2.3 million) saving Ontario ratepayers over $12 Million!
One should wonder why the McGuinty/Wynne government blessed those contracts and why the Ford led government has done nothing to fix it?
Events like those 23 hours clearly show wind whips Ontario’s ratepayers not it’s hydro generation!
NB: Over the days of December 1st and 2nd during one of the hours wind was generating almost 93% of its capacity and on another hour was generating only 15% demonstrating its intermittent and unreliable habit!