Ontario demand to break 2009 record today: is there still too much electricity?

Rumours of the decline in electricity demand have been greatly exaggerated. Today, August 10, 2009, Ontario electricity demand will hit its highest level of the year. That’s because it’s a weekday, and temperatures are expected to hit 28 degrees in the Greater Toronto Area, where most Ontarians live. Every air conditioner in the GTA will turn on, and so will every Ontario electricity generator. Or almost.

This is the first time this has happened in 2009. The previous peak demand time was around eleven a.m. on June 25, when Ontario generators were putting just over 22,000 megawatts into the system. They didn’t even  come close to this in July.

It is depressing that the easy July seems to be the basis for claims that demand for electricity in Ontario is declining.  Maybe today will put a stop to this silliness.

The big question is, will the Bruce 7 nuclear reactor come online today? This machine can put roughly 800 MW of carbon-free baseload power into the system.

Maybe the more important question is, should the unit go online? Remember, we’re talking about emission-free electricity here. Hot muggy days like today are ideal for smog formation. According to all the clean air advocates, fossil generation is a major culprit in smog. So Bruce 7’s 800 MW would offset an equivalent amount of fossil-fired power. Should Bruce 7 come back online? Make sure you vote!

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11 years ago

Absolutely, how else are we going to have a reliable grid. Particularly if we phase out coal by 2014. Hydro, Wind & Solar will not be enough in the foreseeable future.

11 years ago

This story just gets curiouser and more unbelievable every day. It is clear to me that an Ontario government will never increase its use of fission. An Ontario government will never be associated with the building of a new reactor. In fact they will act to reduce the use of fission in Ontario at all costs.The goal is to get Ontario using lots of natural gas, and eliminating the nuclear power option is a step toward that goal. They recently tricked three major nuclear reactor providers into preparing expensive bids and then canceled the request. This really hurts the bidding companies, without causing any financial or political damage to government. Large system bids are costly to prepare, both in time and money. Cancelling at the last moment is a pretty clever way to fight back. Bruce power seems to have interpreted the coded message pretty clearly – any attempts to do development work with the Ontario government will only draw you into a world of pain. So I can only view their lame excuse that a couple of weeks of cold weather have caused them to cancel fifty years of planned development as laughable, and as a signal to the Ontario public that they are going to get the industrial base that they deserve – one where gas pains will be the norm.

11 years ago

Randal, I always fear you’re right and hope you’re wrong. The weather forecast says it will be hot and humid in the GTA all week. Maybe the plan is to keep Bruce 7 out and rely on gas all week—right now we’re using less than 3,000 MW of gas (from installed base of around 5,000 MW). Depending on how the weather goes, we could get by in that scenario.

But is it advisable? The government came to power promising to close the coal plants because of the smog. Gas also creates smog. Here we are in a situation where we could have 800 MW of smog-free, carbon-free power, and we’re passing it up. Maybe you are right. Weird way to meet climate change targets, choosing fossil units over nuclear, when the nuclear unit is perfectly capable of working.