Power policy in real time: an interesting day in Ontario

So how is the Ontario Green Act paying off? I ask this on what could turn out to be the hottest day of the year. With Toronto noontime temperature at 35 Celsius (98 F), it is safe to assume most if not all air conditioners in the Greater Toronto Area are running flat out. Collectively, the generators that report to the provincial grid operator were reporting 24,339 megawatts generation at ten a.m.

So how many of those megawatts are coming from the sources the Green Act was set up to support?

The answer: 5,366 MW. The sources are of course wind (720 MW) and gas (4,646 MW).

Now, 720 MW is an unusually high number for wind; it is a windy day in Ontario. It represents 56 percent of the capability of the wind fleet in the province.

But the hour before, the wind fleet was producing 800 MW. So, as temperature soared and demand increased, and the provincial generators stepped up production by 1,377 MW to match demand, the wind fleet reduced production.

That’s not all. On July 19, the wind fleet best hour was six p.m. at which time it was collectively cranking out 35 MW, not even 3 percent capability. And that was at the time when the province was in its peak power consumption period.

The purpose of the Green Act is to encourage more wind energy. The only way the government can bring investors to the table is to pay them prices that are far above those for other sources. The only reason investors are coming to the table is because the government is paying these high prices. If the government were to stop paying these prices, wind generators would go broke.

Should we be encouraging this kind of investment?

On the day when we need all the power we can get, it looks like the wind fleet has decided to work to rule.

For what? Higher prices?

Update: between ten and eleven a.m., the wind fleet dropped output by a further 91 MW. Meanwhile, total generation increased by 679 MW.

3 comments for “Power policy in real time: an interesting day in Ontario

  1. July 22, 2011 at 02:14

    Nice reportage Steve.

    Germany is betting the economic farm on this stuff? Auf Wiedersehen Deutschland!

    • Steve Aplin
      July 22, 2011 at 12:06

      … and Ontario is following Germany.

  2. July 22, 2011 at 02:16

    Should be “Atomikrabbit” – these powerful but furry paws make it hard to type!

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