Ontario Wasted Enough Clean Electricity to Power 720,000 Homes in 2019: Report

OSPE has revealed that Ontario wasted a total of 6.5 TWh of clean electricity in 2019 – an amount sufficient to power 720,000 average homes for one year.

The Ontario Society of Professional Engineers (OSPE), the voice of Ontario’s engineering community, has released updated data on curtailed (wasted) energy, following its 2019 Retail Electricity Price Reform Report. The report found that Ontario wasted a total of 6.5 terawatt-hours (TWh) of clean electricity in 2019 – an amount sufficient to power 720,000 average-sized homes for one year.

These findings represent a 12 percent increase in wasted electricity from 2018. This trend has remained consistent with data dating back to 2015 and is anticipated to continue this year, with the prolonged impacts of COVID-19 expected to significantly increase the amount of wasted clean electricity in 2020. The initial report, released by OSPE in April 2019, follows a detailed analysis of year-end data issued by the Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO) and Ontario Power Generation (OPG).

The data indicates that Ontario’s electricity pricing system is not structured to account for the low demand it has been experiencing.

“Over the last six years, Ontario has curtailed 38.5 TWh of clean electricity,” said Sandro Perruzza, CEO of OSPE. “This system is too expensive and simply not sustainable, which is why we are calling upon the provincial government and Ontario Energy Board to explore reformed retail pricing plans for consumers to subscribe to on a voluntary basis.”

“The province also continues to export even larger amounts of surplus clean electricity to neighbouring jurisdictions at a lower price than the total cost of production,” said Paul Acchione, energy expert and former President and Chair of OSPE.

In addition to curtailment, the report finds that surplus hydroelectric, wind, solar and nuclear-generated electricity was also exported to adjoining power grids from 2014 to 2019 at prices much lower than the cost of production. This occurs because Ontario produces more clean electricity than Ontario consumers currently use, so the province is forced to sell off the surplus at the low wholesale market rate. Total exports in 2019 were 19.8 TWh, compared to 18.6 TWh in 2018. OSPE estimates that about half of those exports were surplus clean electricity, enough to power about 1.2 million homes for one year.

Rather than continuing to waste viable clean electricity, OSPE recommends the province leverage its excess electricity to:

  • Displace fossil fuel consumption for consumer’s heating needs
  • Charge Ontario’s growing fleet of electric vehicles
  • Create clean hydrogen for Ontario’s industrial sector and hydrogen-powered vehicles

Emily Thorn Corthay, OSPE’s Energy Task Force Chair, emphasized that “OSPE’s proposed retail electricity pricing would incent people to fill the troughs in electricity demand through low pricing with no additional system costs which would overall lower total energy costs for those consumers who choose to opt-in.”

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