IESO Transmission Request Would Boost Ontario Hydro Imports from Quebec
A request last week from the independent agency that runs Ontario’s electricity grid could open the door for the province to import inexpensive, renewable electricity from existing hydroelectric facilities in neighbouring Quebec.
The letter from the Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO) to Hydro One called on the provincial utility to increase its electricity transmission capacity through Ottawa, to boost resilience and deal with anticipated population growth in the western part of the city. But the request also pointed to the transmission corridor through Ottawa as a route for electricity transfers from Quebec.
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“In addition to servicing the city of Ottawa, this enhancement also reinforces an important pathway that brings generation from Eastern Ontario and Quebec to consumers across Ontario,” IESO wrote last week. “The enhancements will enable greater imports from Quebec during times of peak electricity usage, benefitting consumers by allowing greater competition in meeting regional and provincial electricity needs. Imports from Quebec may also be able to participate in future capacity auctions, increasing competition and driving down costs.”
The Ontario Clean Air Alliance, long an advocate of Quebec hydro imports in lieu of costly (potentially incredibly costly) nuclear refurbishments, heralded the announcement as a “major step to lower Ontario’s electricity bills.” Director Angela Bischoff cited a 2017 report by the Financial Accountability Office of Ontario that showed the province buying water power from Quebec at an average cost of 2.2¢ per kilowatt-hour, compared to nuclear costs that stand at 8.8¢ today and are expected to hit 16.5¢ by 2025.
“By purchasing low-cost water power from Quebec, Premier Ford will be able to keep his promise to reduce Ontario’s electricity costs by 12%,” Bischoff wrote. “This is great news for Ontario’s electricity consumers and the environment!”