Ontario IESO sees jump in renewable energy output in 2015

The Jan. 12 annual release of electricity data by the Ontario IESO points to increased output from renewable sources of supply and continued uptake in electricity conservation programs.

Production by Ontario’s nuclear units remained high in 2015, comprising 60% of the transmission-connected power generated in Ontario. Consistent with the rapid growth in wind and solar resources, output from both types of supply increased significantly during the year. For example, wind was 4% of generator output in 2014, rising to 6% in 2015.

Ontario is also experiencing rapid growth of smaller scale distribution-connected, or embedded, generation. At the end of 2015, there were nearly 3,000 MW of IESO-contracted embedded generation helping to meet Ontario’s electricity needs – an increase of approximately 20% from the 2,479 MW of embedded generation available at the end of 2014.

Electricity consumption in Ontario declined in 2015. Total energy withdrawn from the high-voltage transmission system in 2015 reached 137.0 terawatt-hours (TWh), down from 139.8 TWh in 2014 – a 2% drop that can be attributed to conservation initiatives, increases in embedded generation, mild weather and broader economic shifts.

After 2014, when demand for electricity peaked at 22,774 MW on Jan. 7 during a frigid winter, the province reverted to its normal status as a summer-peaking jurisdiction. Demand for electricity in 2015 reached 22,516 MW on July 28, though the summer was generally characterized by moderate temperatures. Contributing to this relatively low summer peak were increased output from solar units (at the distribution level, where it offsets demand for grid-connected supply) plus ongoing growth in demand management and energy-efficiency measures.

The weighted wholesale price of electricity – the Hourly Ontario Energy Price (HOEP) – for 2015 came in at C2.36 cents/kilowatt-hour (kWh). The estimated 2015 Global Adjustment (GA) rate as at December 31, 2015 was C7.78 cents/kWh. The total cost of power for Class B consumers, representing the combined effect of the HOEP and the GA, was C10.14 cents/kWh.

Ontario continued to import energy in 2015, with Quebec providing the lion’s share of that power supply. On the export side, the lower Canadian dollar played an important part in the growth of exports to Michigan and New York.

Conservation is a cost-effective and reliable resource that leverages investments that have already been made in existing assets and reduces the need for new electrical infrastructure. Preliminary results for the first nine months of 2015 indicate 489 gigawatt-hours (GWh) of net energy savings attributable to programs delivered by local distribution companies and the IESO.

The year 2015 was marked by a number of initiatives at the IESO, including:

  • completion of Ontario’s first demand response (DR) auction;
  • selection of participants in the DR pilot;
  • signing of an agreement with Bruce Power to secure an ongoing supply of power from the site and refurbish six nuclear units following two years of negotiations;
  • announcement of successful proponents for the second phase of the IESO’s energy storage procurement; and
  • launch of the new six-year Conservation First Framework to support delivery of conservation programs by local distribution companies.
About Barry Cassell 20414 Articles
Barry Cassell is Chief Analyst for GenerationHub covering coal and emission controls issues, projects and policy. He has covered the coal and power generation industry for more than 24 years, beginning in November 2011 at GenerationHub and prior to that as editor of SNL Energy’s Coal Report. He was formerly with Coal Outlook for 15 years as the publication’s editor and contributing writer, and prior to that he was editor of Coal & Synfuels Technology and associate editor of The Energy Report. He has a bachelor’s degree from Central Michigan University.