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Ontario’s 2017 Long-Term Energy Plan identifies hydropower development

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Earlier this week, the government of Ontario released its 2017 Long-Term Energy Plan (LTEP), which focuses on energy affordability, innovation and customer choice.

The LTEP specifically identified the province’s plan for hydroelectricity saying, “most of Ontario’s supply of renewable energy continues to come from the province’s hydroelectric facilities, which provided 23% of Ontario’s total generation in 2015.”

Ontario has about 8,800 MW of installed hydroelectric capacity.

The report said assessments over the years, including the Ontario Waterpower Association’s November 2013 Northern Hydro Assessment – Waterpower Potential in the Far North of Ontario, have identified significant remaining waterpower potential in the province. These potential resources are mostly concentrated in Northern Ontario and major transmission enhancements would be required to effectively contribute to Ontario’s electricity supply.

Hydroelectricity

Additional information in the LTEP related to hydroelectricity addresses existing facilities, pumped storage and hydropower’s longevity.

“There is an opportunity to get more from existing waterpower assets, including increasing their operational flexibility. The performance of older hydroelectric projects can be improved by using new, more efficient turbines,” according to the report. “With the growing need for flexibility in our electricity system, Ontario’s pumped storage potential could also play an important role in the provision of services that ensure the electricity system operates reliably.”

In February, Ontario Power Generation completed refurbishment of the reservoir at its 174-MW Sir Adam Beck Pump Generation Station and says the work “will ensure carbon-free electricity for another 50 years or more.”

When estimating capacity, the LTEP said contracts for over 4,800 MW of wind energy, 2,100 MW of solar energy, and 1,200 MW of hydroelectric generation will expire between 2026 and 2035, with most expiring after 2030.

While wind and solar contracts last for 20 years and hydroelectric contracts for 40 years, wind turbines and photovoltaic panels are often able to still generate electricity after their contracts expire, and from experience it is known that hydroelectric facilities can operate for as long as a century.

First Nations inclusion

According to the LTEP, the following indicates First Nations are an integral part of the energy process in Ontario:

  • First Nations and Métis are now leading or partnering on over 600 wind, solar and hydroelectric generation projects across Ontario, accounting for over 2,200 MW of clean energy capacity; 
  • First Nations lead, or are partners with, transmission companies on several major transmission lines; and
  • Nearly 100 First Nations are participating in the Independent Electricity System Operator’s Aboriginal Community Energy Plan program. These community-led energy plans assess a community’s current energy needs and priorities and explore options for conservation and renewable energy.

As of July 1, 2017, Ontario's Fair Hydro Plan reduced electricity bills by 25% on average for residential consumers and as many as 500,00 small businesses and farms across the province. As part of the plan, any increases to bills will be held to the rate of inflation for four years.

Following this, the 2017 LTEP confirms that electricity prices are forecast to remain below the level projected in the 2013 LTEP.

In March, HydroWorld.com reported Ontario Premier, Kathleen Wynne, announced how her administration would reduce residential electricity rates by 25%.

“The cut will go to all households that pay for electricity,” she said. “There will be no asterisks, no loopholes and no exceptions,” Wynne said. “Our plan will lower electricity bills by 25% on average for all residential consumers in the province. And for those living in rural communities or with low incomes, the break will be even greater.

“In addition, this rate relief is designed to last. After we bring bills down by 25% we will hold them there with rates rising only with inflation – or roughly 2% – for at least four years.”

Wynne said the reduction is the largest electricity rate cut in the history of Ontario.

In 2013, HydroWorld.com published an in-depth article on the main points within the 2013 LTEP, one which was on pending decisions on nuclear rebuild and the achievement of conservation objectives, the capacity gap to be addressed may range between 2,000 and 6,000 MW. In addressing the projected need for electricity, the government is looking at all options for designing a portfolio that continues to meet economic, environmental and energy needs.

According to the 2017 LTEP, in 2016 Ontario’s electricity system was 90% free of greenhouse gases that cause climate change.

To learn information on all of the initiatives discussed and Ontario’s plan for its overall power portfolio going forward, click on: 2017 Long-Term Energy Plan.

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