Ontario Engineers Warn Ontario Electricity Costs Will Rise Over 220%

The federal Infrastructure Bank's mandate is gradually taking shape, with the agency clarifying that electricity grids will not be funded. Photo by Matthew Henry via Unsplash.
Photo credit: Matthew Henry

The Ontario Society of Professional Engineers (OSPE) recently conducted an analysis to determine the retail electricity rates required to achieve a net-zero electricity system in Ontario by 2035.

The analysis added additional capacity using various generation technologies alongside the existing zero-emission capacity in 2021 to meet the projected high-load demand for 2035. Sufficient energy storage was also incorporated to meet the North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC) standards, which are mandatory for any power system connected to the North American power grid. Since Ontario is linked to five other power systems in Québec, New York, Michigan, Minnesota, and Manitoba, adherence to NERC standards incurs additional costs, especially for supply mixes reliant on weather-dependent generation.

The OSPE analysis indicates that expanding the current electricity system with too many intermittent renewable generation technologies would result in significantly higher retail electricity costs. The most cost-effective option involves incorporating more nuclear power with pumped hydroelectric storage, providing some peaking capability. On the other hand, relying exclusively on solar photovoltaic (PV) with battery energy storage systems for backup would lead to retail electricity rates more than doubling in today’s dollars.

In the supply mix simulations, hydroelectric, nuclear, wind turbine, solar PV, storage, and combustion turbines (fueled by renewable natural gas – RNG) were included. Combustion turbines serve as system reserves and only operate when needed for reliability or resiliency purposes, such as equipment failures or during unexpected high demand in severe weather events. If combustion turbines using RNG had not been incorporated, projected electricity costs to achieve net-zero emissions and meet NERC standards would have been even higher than the projected costs noted above to achieve both net-zero emissions and the NERC reliability and resiliency standards.

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