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IESO says solar and demand-response effects will soon be noticeable

May 24, 2013 | By Anthony Capkun

May 24, 2013 – Ontario’s Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO) says that, over the next 18 months, solar energy and demand response will have a growing and noticeable impact on the power grid, “working to reduce summer peaks and help meet the province’s overall energy needs”.

In its latest 18-month outlook, IESO says almost 1900MW of solar generation and an estimated 900MW of demand-response from large consumers will be available by the end of 2014 to support reliability—particularly through the summer months.

“Ontario’s power system has changed dramatically over the past number of years, with a much greater diversity of generators and new forms of supply—such as solar generation and demand-response—entering the market,” said Bruce Campbell, IESO president and CEO. “Operation of the power system today is more complex than in years past but, with the right information and the right tools, it continues to be managed reliably and efficiently.”

The 18-Month Outlook anticipates adequate generation and transmission capability to support system reliability over the next year and a half. Peak demands in summer and winter should not pose any province-wide reliability concerns, even under extreme weather conditions.


Ontario’s first transmission-connected solar projects will come online over the next 18 months, says IESO. When added with solar generators on low-voltage networks, these facilities will combine to generate 2.2TWh of annual electricity by the end of 2014. That embedded generation will reduce demand for electricity from the transmission grid.

Summer peaks are also being impacted by consumers cutting back their energy use in response to conservation initiatives, time-of-use (ToU) rates, market prices and other incentives, adds IESO. Large energy users—such as factories, universities or hospitals—who are eligible for the Global Adjustment Allocation will play a notable role in that drop, reducing their electricity consumption on the hottest days of the summer.

Ontario’s power grid is also expected to encounter more frequent instances of surplus baseload generation in the spring and summer seasons of 2013 and 2014, continues IESO, due to multiple factors, including lower off-peak demand for electricity, increased nuclear capacity and more renewable generation. IESO system operators manage surplus baseload generation through a range of tools and processes, says the operator, including exports, maneuvering nuclear units and, beginning in September 2013, dispatching wind generators. IESO adds it has in place other efforts—such as centralized wind forecasting and increased visibility of embedded generation output—that will provide greater operational awareness and efficiency in running the system.

Also from the 18-month outlook:

• Lambton and Nanticoke coal generating units are expected to be removed from the grid by the end of 2013, ending coal generation in Southern Ontario.
• The first of four expanded hydro stations on the Lower Mattagami is expected to come into service by the end of Q2 2014.
• 3300MW of grid-scale wind, solar and biomass projects are expected to be added to the system over the next 18 months. Of that, 1100MW of new wind capacity will be added during the summer of 2014.

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