Quebec has the power to help Ontario save big!

Quebec has one of the world’s largest water-driven electricity generation systems. It produces far more power than can be used within the province and is eager to make a deal with Ontario to supply low cost renewable waterpower.  Quebec’s system can also help Ontario store power from wind and solar.  Cooperating with Quebec could be a huge win-win for both provinces.

Tell Premier Ford to make a money saving deal with Quebec!

Quebec is offering Ontario waterpower at less than half of what we are now paying for nuclear energy.  Why would we keep pouring money into expensive nuclear projects and relying on polluting gas power when we can get clean waterpower from our neighbours?

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Quebec’s problem is that it cannot export more power to the U.S. during peak periods due to transmission system limitations. This has led to it selling a lot of power on the so-called “spot market” instead of under long-term contracts. These sales are often at pennies per kilowatt hour. In fact, Quebec earned an average of just 4.3 cents per kWh for spot and long-term contract electricity exports in 2020.

That’s why Quebec is keen to sign a long-term deal with Ontario to provide renewable power for just 5 cents per kWh – a fraction of what we pay for power from nuclear plants. Ontario has repeatedly turned up its nose at these offers, stubbornly sticking to plans to spend tens of billions of dollars rebuilding old and outdated nuclear plants instead.

This makes little sense as Quebec has power available for export in at least 99% of the hours of the year and we have sufficient transmission capacity to import almost enough power from Quebec right now to eliminate the need for gas-fired power generation. We can increase our import capability by an additional 2000 MW by building a new transmission link through an existing corridor near Ottawa. This line would double our capacity to import zero emission power from Quebec.

Ontario and Quebec are a great fit

Ontario and Quebec’s electricity systems would mesh well. Quebec has its largest surplus capacity in summer when demand in Ontario peaks thanks to air conditioning. Quebec uses more power in winter to heat homes and buildings when Ontario demand is lower and wind power resources are higher. But even if these demand patterns shift due to growing electrification, Quebec still can provide power even on its handful of high-demand winter days by investing in energy efficiency and wind power.

Quebec is also ideally suited to act like a giant battery for fluctuating renewable energy sources like solar and wind in both provinces. Its massive hydro reservoir system can store water when other power sources are available and then release that water later to generate electricity when other sources are less available. An MIT study found that combining Quebec’s hydro power system with other renewable power sources was a very cost-effective way to make intermittent energy sources like solar and wind “firm” 24/7 sources of power.

Quebec also has massive wind power potential and could also free up billions of kilowatt-hours of electricity for export by improving energy efficiency throughout the province, helping Quebec businesses and electricity consumers while also helping its neighbours.

According to one study, Quebec could free up 30 billion kWh of electricity per year through energy efficiency (where Ontario can offer services and technology thanks to its previous leadership in pursuing energy efficiency). Even more remarkably, Quebec is estimated to have the capacity to produce 300 billion kWh of hydro-backed (firm) wind power, which is more than double Ontario’s total annual electricity demand.

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A much better deal than nuclear power

If Ontario were to accept Quebec’s offer of power for five cents per kWh, it would be buying power at close to half the cost of what it is paying now for power from nuclear plants. Even more importantly, the price we pay for nuclear power is set to rise steeply over the next decade to pay for rebuilding aging nuclear reactors. Ontario Power Generation says it will need to charge 13.7 cents per kWh for power from rebuilt reactors at the Darlington Nuclear Station. This is more than double what we could be paying Quebec for firm 24/7 renewable power.

Even better, power from Quebec does not come with large quantities of radioactive waste. Ontario has stockpiled millions of tonnes of radioactive waste at its three current nuclear plants. After 50 plus years of nuclear operations, the province still doesn’t know what to do with this waste, which is currently stored in open pools and commercial grade warehouses next to reactors. It is completely irresponsible to continue producing deadly toxic waste without a way to securely store it for the long term. Of course, storing this waste is supremely difficult as it must be kept separate from its surrounding environment and totally secure from intruders for the next 100,000 years – an almost insurmountable problem.