Shutting Down Ontario’s Electricity Supply by Shirley Dolan

Published September 1, 2021
Shirley Dolan

Shirley Dolan

Why is the Ontario Clean Air Alliance (OCAA) lobbying the Provincial government to shut down all gas-fired power plants? Helping our climate by phasing-out Ontario’s gas plants | Ontario Clean Air Alliance OCAA states on their website that Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO) is looking into the possibility of doing just that (but at the same time requesting proposals for more gas-fired power).  IESO is the Crown corporation responsible for operating the electricity market and directing the operation of the bulk electrical system in the province of Ontario.

According to IESO, on August 26, 2021, Ontario’s projected peak demand for electricity was 23,500 MW This Hour’s Data (ieso.ca). This is easily supplied by Ontario’s electricity grid which I am told has a capacity of around 33,000 MW. This is excluding electricity generation from private generators such as those under the Feed-in-Tarriff (FIT) program.

The amount of electricity from any one source varies to a degree. At 8 PM on August 26, IESO reported the supply from Ontario’s assets as:

Source Available Amount (MW)
Nuclear 10,196
Hydro 3,299
Gas 4,979
Wind 448
Solar 82
Biofuel 75

From this chart, we can see that gas-fired plants contribute a respectable share of our power. If we were to remove this source, with what would it be replaced? Wind and solar? Given that these two sources are intermittent suppliers of energy, it doesn’t seem like a good fit. One of the little-known facts is that wind turbines use external electricity to, among other things, run their lights, start and stop, and to power their microprocessors. Consumption of Electricity by Wind Turbines [AWEO.org] No-one has ever done the math, but it is conceivable that wind turbines are often running at a loss in terms of energy production.

OCAA is suggesting that Ontario accept power from Quebec’s massive waterpower system as a means of phasing out the gas plants. But Ontario has hydro capacity that is not being used. Why import more from another province?

In defense of gas-fired plants, Parker Gallant suggests that they have saved Ontario from rolling brownouts during the August heat wave. Apparently, California will set up five temporary gas-fueled generators around existing power plants throughout the state to avoid blackouts and boost the state’s grid.

One thing is clear – the groups lobbying for the shut-down of all fossil fuel usage is large, well-organized, vocal, and they have the ear of governments at all levels. The City of Ottawa, for example, wants to move away from the Ontario grid and invest in their own electricity supply by installing as many as 710 industrial wind turbines, approximately 36 sq. km of solar panels, and 122 large shipping containers of lithium batteries to replace all fossil fuel sources of energy, including electricity from natural gas.

Ruby Mekker, co-manager of Industrial Wind Action Canada asks the new Ministers of the Environment, Conservation and Parks (the Hon. David Piccini) and Energy (the Hon. Todd Smith) to shut down industrial wind turbines in Ontario. Now that makes sense!

“Minister Piccini, Minister Smith,

As we have come to expect in Ontario, “peak demand” generally occurs on hot summer days and the hour ending at hour 17 on August 20th was the most recent occurrence coming in at # 8 of “peak demand hours” so far this year.

Demand at the above hour reached 21,569 MW and the bulk of that needed demand was supplied by Nuclear, Hydro and Natural Gas generators. At that hour gas plants supplied 25.9% (5,587 MW) of demand while wind generators managed to produce only 0.45% (98 MW) of demand and the bulk (53 MW) of that came from the Greenwich Renewable Energy Project a 99 MW station located Northeast of Thunder Bay so none of their generation was useful in the well populated areas of the province. The other 40 plus wind turbine generating stations scattered throughout the province produced only 45 MW which probably didn’t even cover their consumption during that hour.

Recognizing that industrial wind turbines contribute very little to Ontario’s grid at times when power is most needed, recognizing the high cost to all Ontario ratepayers and knowing of the adverse health effects experienced by people living in these projects, I am asking that you shut down all industrial wind turbine operations in Ontario.

Ruby Mekker

Finch, Ontario”

Perhaps more of us should be writing to our MPPs so they have a more balanced view of what constituents want.

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