Friday, October 21, 2016

Ontario to import Quebec's excess hydro

The news that Ontario has struck a deal with Quebec to import Quebecois hydroelectricity is a rare but welcome step towards common sense and efficient energy sharing.
Under the seven-year agreement, Ontario will import up to two terawatt-hours of clean Quebec hydroelectricity (which sounds like a lot, but is actually just enough to power a medium-sized city, and represents just 1.4% of Ontario's total electricity demand). It will, however, allow the province to replace about a sixth of its more expensive and more polluting natural gas-generated power with clean renewable hydro power, saving the province in the process an estimated one million tons a year of greenhouse gas emissions.
The agreement also includes an arrangement to temporarily store 500 megawatts of excess Ontario electricity annually in Quebec's hydro dams (in a "pump-storage" system), which will allow Ontario to avoid the ridiculous current practice of paying US states to accept its excess energy. It also extends by another five years the existing agreement whereby Ontario ships 500 megawatts of excess power to Quebec each winter, and Quebec ships 500 megawatts back to Ontario in the summer months (when Quebec has an excess supply and Ontario an excess demand).
All in all, the new deal is expected to save Ontario's tax-payers around $70 million over the seven year life of the contract, in addition to the environmental benefits. It makes total sense to me, and hopefully paves the way for more similar arrangements in the future.

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