Waterpower was the first source of power for communities across Ontario and has been instrumental in the formation and sustainable growth of the province. Today, approximately three dozen hydroelectric facilities have been producing reliable, affordable electricity for more than a century and, with sustained investment, will continue to do so for decades.
Ontario’s Emergent and Enduring Energy and Capacity Shortfall
For the first time in almost fifteen (15) years, Ontario is facing an emergent and enduring energy and capacity shortfall. As early as 2029, Ontario will need more electricity to address the retirement of existing nuclear facilities and the increase in demand due both to economic growth and an emphasis on decarbonization. In fact, in a recent scenario developed by the Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO), Ontario could require double the capacity it has in the system today.
As early as 2029, Ontario will need more electricity to address the retirement of existing nuclear facilities and the increase in demand due both to economic growth and an emphasis on decarbonization.
For Made in Ontario waterpower, this means three things:
- Secure, refurbish, and expand the more than 220 facilities already in operation;
- Optimize existing infrastructure not currently producing electricity through retrofits; and
- Start now to plan for and permit new greenfield projects to realize the province’s untapped potential.
On this third point, the government recently released the Made-in-Ontario Northern Hydroelectric Opportunities report, prepared by Ontario Power Generation. The report reaffirms 4,000-5,000 MW of new waterpower potential, much of which (3,000-4,000 MW) is in northern Ontario.
The realization of Northern Ontario’s Waterpower Potential
The realization of northern Ontario’s waterpower potential can build upon the successful partnerships with Indigenous communities and provide significant and sustainable socioeconomic benefits at the community, regional and provincial level. An estimated seventy-five percent (75%) of new development investment and ninety percent (90%) of operational and sustaining capital costs for these perpetual assets are “Made in Ontario”.
Ontario needs to start now to chart a course for the sustainable and measured development of and investment in waterpower assets to ensure that tomorrow’s needs will be met. The best time to build a waterpower facility that will last a century, or more, is yesterday. The second-best time is today.
To learn more about how new and expanded waterpower can be built in Ontario in the near-term visit owa.ca.