Wind missing in action as heat wave pushes Ontario grid past 20,000 MW

Canadian Energy Issues   by Steve Aplin

At four p.m. on Tuesday, with temperatures pushing toward 30 degrees, Ontario electricity generators were collectively cranking out 20, 514 megawatts. To that, the province’s wind farms were contributing a laughable 0.3 percent. That works out to around 5 percent of their capability at that time (see the IESO’s output tables). Nice to know they’re there when we need them.

Ironically, the Toronto Star on the same day carried this letter to the editor, saying that wind turbines are a “sustainable power source and a necessary part of our green energy future.”

I’ll try to remember that next time I’m about to step onto an elevator in an air-conditioned high rise.

This is the first time in a long time that the Ontario system has cracked 20,000 megawatts. For months, Ontario has had mild temperatures and because of that an easy time, power-wise. That all changed last Sunday with the first high-twenties day of 2010.

 This is a bit early for Ontario to have a major heat wave. Is it a harbinger of the summer to come? We’ve had a couple of very easy summers in 2008 and 2009. I think that on that basis people assume we don’t need that much electricity.

That assumption has produced the non-action at the Darlington nuclear station. The province said a few years ago that it needs over 3,000 MW of new nuclear capacity. In 2009, it even asked reactor vendors to submit bids. The vendors did so, at which point Ontario declared one—Atomic Energy Canada Limited—to be “compliant” with the bid requirements but far, far too expensive. And then the process stopped, hung up on the rocks of federal-provincial disagreement over who should pay what in the event of cost overruns involving AECL, a federally-owned company (see article).

Either the weather cooperated with the stoppage, or the stoppage was because of the weather. But Ontario had an easy summer of 2009, an easy fall, a mild winter, and a long, cool spring of 2010. During that time, there was almost no mention of the Darlington situation.

Will the current and subsequent heat waves put pressure on the feds and Ontario to work something out? I hope so. We don’t want to rely on wind. That just puts us into a dangerous dependence on expensive, emission-heavy natural gas.

Canadian Energy Issues © 2010, by Steve Aplin. Mr. Aplin is Vice President of Energy and Environment at The HDP Group, an Ottawa-based management consultancy. He is an expert on the implications of environmental policy for the energy sector. The views represented in these posts are the author’s and do not necessarily represent those of The HDP Group Inc. Mr. Aplin also publishes a new power production and emission tracking website, Electric Power Statistics. You can contact him at 1+(613) 567-5300.

7 thoughts on “Wind missing in action as heat wave pushes Ontario grid past 20,000 MW

  1. Bet the Toronto Bias Star will not publish this info!

    Perhaps now people will wake up and get rid of McGuinty before he destroys more families and our economy.

    We know that the wind energy “bubble” is going to burst very soon but I can only hope that reason returns to Ontario before even one more blasted turbine goes up!

  2. Wind wasn’t the only thing missing over the past week. We had as many as seven nuclear units offline, although by Monday that had been reduced to four. Low water levels are sharply reducing hydro electric production. If it weren’t for the coal plants running heavily, we would have had a blackout. Also, at times we were net importers of power–a sharp departure from the norm.

  3. What is so unfortunate is that the “true” story never gets out to the general public. So most people continue to believe the wind salesmen – “they’re quiet, consistent, renewable”.

    I can see the wind people’s answer to the story, we need more turbines.

    Unless many many more people learn the truth about this so called “green” energy and cut off the government money, I don’t think the dispoiling of the landscape with the raising of these giant turbines that kill birds and interfer with people enjoyment of their homes will end soon.

  4. The Toronto Star is so pro-Liberal if McGuinty stopped dead in his tracks the editor would suffocate.

    Also on the editorial page was an item about the cancellation of the C of A for Dumpsite 41. Not one word, not one, mentioned the underwater lake containing the purest water on the planet under the dumpsite facing contamination. The editorial went on to mention the $13 million spent on the project implying the residents of Tiny Township are addled.

    The heavy censoring by the media of real news reminds me of Nazi Germany.

  5. All last week I don’t recall seeing any of the Shelbourne turbines turning. For the whole week!

    If this wasn’t so serious, it’d be comical.

  6. Has anyone seen any “news” at all lately on any mainstream media outlet?

    The only “real reporting” is from the internet!

    Look at the Gulf “oil spill updates”. The only real time so called news comes from CNN who attempts to use the segment “Keeping Them Honest” with Anderson Cooper “appears” to go right to the public’s birds eye view of the damage being caused and who is responsible.

    What they aren’t reporting is the story that this “real time” camera feed of the oil spewing out may not actually be the true source of the leak!

    There are dozens of reports that the main oil leak is some six miles away from what is being shown each and every minute of every day on TV.

    Research is the key here in this day and age……..RESEARCH!……….take nothing from any written or TV media outlet as the TRUTH and you are well on your way to truly knowing what’s up!

  7. Grant Church, Pickering was off line due to a vacuum building inspection required every 10 years – all 6 units share that safety backup. I believe OPG started that shut-down early, due to nice temperatures in early April reducing demand, and they definitely finished early – the 4 units they intended to bring back online are now online a week ahead of schedule. Just as happened when the heat finally hit last August, Bruce immediately had an unexpected shutdown of a unit during Pickering’s planned outage. The public guys are shaming the private guys.
    Regardless, April and May are traditionally 2 of the 3 lowest demand months, and it was the appropriate time for the vacuum building shutdown. There is an explanation for 6 of the 8 nuclear units – the explanation for the wind turbines low output is simply the heat wave was typical of an Ontario summer heat wave.

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