Ontario urges power conservation as usage hits peak

Reuters Canada

August 1, 2006

Ontario’s Independent Electricity System Operator issued a power warning on Tuesday as blistering heat and humidity fueled power demand to record levels, urging consumers to curb electricity use until 8 p.m. EDT to ease the strain on the bulk system.

"We are going to be relying on imports over the peak (afternoon) hour but at this point, we are anticipating being able to meet demand," said Lisa Pearson, an IESO spokeswoman.

As eastern North America bakes in searing heat, the Ontario grid operator website showed that provincial power use soared to record levels at midday on Tuesday.

. . . By noon, demand had already reached 26,331 megawatts.

Ontario’s grid operator hasn’t yet asked industrial users to reduce load as an emergency measure, though it has told them this is possible, Pearson said.

. . . While the grid will be under stress on Tuesday and Wednesday, "the good news is the power system is in much better shape than last year right now," said Tom Adams of Energy Probe, a veteran electricity market watcher.

"They’re not digging deep into their toolbox of emergency measures just yet."

Although electrical loads are comparable to last year, the key factor helping Ontario meet demand this year is additional supply, Adams said.

There’s a "big difference" in hydrology conditions, leading to better hydroelectric generating capability, while the return to service of the 515-MW Pickering nuclear unit 1 has lent a major helping hand, Adams said.

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