Ontario’s Current Top 5 Peaks and Other Interesting Insights

We recently downloaded the IESO’s hourly data that contains the entire province of Ontario’s electricity demand numbers from Jan 1 to July 31, 2019 – the data can be downloaded here. We were originally looking to download the data to analyze the top 5 July 2019 peak event days, but thought it would be interesting to do a whole 2019 data review using our REA platform for data visualization and insights. Below is a general review covering annual patterns, weekday/weekend activity, a review of the current top 5 provincial peak days (all occurring in July), and an interesting cost analysis.

Annual Patterns

The first item we looked at was total electricity consumed by the province in each month of 2019 – our REA platform automatically filters the hourly data we submitted to monthly, daily, and hourly formats. Analyzing the below graph shows January (the coldest month of 2019 so far) and July (the warmest month of 2019 so far) having the highest electricity consumption and peak demand. The shoulder season (spring time) has the lowest electricity consumption as we transition from a high heat load to high cooling load, with reasonable temperatures in the spring time not requiring constant mechanical heating/cooling.

Weekly Patterns

The next item we observed was weekly electricity consumption behaviour across the 7-months of data. The below graph summarizes the hourly provincial data in daily consumption totals, showing a consistent pattern of higher consumption during the weekdays, and lower consumption during the weekends, which is typical behaviour with many businesses not in operation during weekends.

Current Top 5 Provincial Peak Days (all occurring in July 2019)

Below are the hourly data graphs of each of the top 5 provincial peak days to show how Ontario behaves during the highest demand days. The peak days are used to set global adjustment charges for rate payers in Ontario that qualify and opt-in to the Class A billing structure. It is important to understand the provincial peaks as they occur throughout the year to understand how the province reacts to peaks, and to see how your own facility is performing when a peak event happens. It should also be noted that all of the below peaks are unofficial – official and adjusted results are posted in April 2020 for the 2019 peaks.

Peak Rank No. 1 | Mon, July 29 | HE: 17:00 | 21,791 MW | Temp High: 30 C
The peak almost occurred at HE 12:00, with consumption dropping off between 12:00 to 15:00, however the peak started to climb again, setting the highest unofficial peak observed so far in 2019.

Mon, July 29, 2019 – REA Energy Dashboard Graph

Peak Rank No. 2 | Fri, July 5 | HE: 17:00 | 21,716 MW | Temp High: 31 C
The below graph shows a very flat consumption profile between 12:00 to 18:00, with the peak ultimately happening with a quick 1-hr spike in provincial demand at 17:00. Long, flat peaks can make it difficult to execute your peak reduction plan, which is why it is advised to create a plan (or use a technology) that can be deployed for 4 to 6 hours to ensure you hit the peak when it ultimately occurs.

Fri, July 5, 2019 – REA Energy Dashboard Graph

Peak Rank No. 3 | Sat, July 20 | HE: 18:00 | 21,646 MW | Temp High: 34 C
The third ranked unofficial peak is a very rare weekend peak, which ultimately happened at 18:00 after a steady climb in provincial demand from 12:00 to 18:00. The rare weekend peak can be attributed to the high temperature reached in the GTA of 34 C .

(Why would Ontario’s peak electricity demand rely on the GTA’s weather? Because the GTA makes up for 20% of Ontario’s summer peak electricity load! See the image below the July 20 graph provided by the IESO).

Sat, July 20, 2019 – REA Energy Dashboard Graph
Source: IESO Historical Demand. Graph showing 20% of Ontario’s summer demand (21,786 MW) is provided by Toronto’s summer load (4,247 MW)

Peak Rank No. 4 | Fri, July 19 | HE: 12:00 | 21,545 MW | Temp High: 30 C
The graph below shows the peak occurring at a rare time of 12:00 – peaks in the summer often occur between 17:00 to 18:00 (see the other 4 peaks in this section). The peak abruptly happened at 12:00, with a large reduction in provincial demand occurring immediately after. This change in demand can often be attributed to GTA temperatures lowering drastically (maybe a storm rolls in and cools things down), or many of the Class A rate payers are executing their peak reduction plans at the same time, lowering the province’s demand.

It’s also interesting to note that the original prediction at 10:30AM by the IESO on the Peak Tracker website was for the peak to happen at HE 17:00, but the actual peak occurred only 1.5-hrs later at 12:00.

Fri, July 19, 2019 – REA Energy Dashboard Graph

Peak Rank No. 5 | Thur, July 4 | HE: 18:00 | 21,423 MW | Temp High: 29 C
The final unofficial peak occurred in typical fashion, with peak happening at 18:00 after a steady increase in provincial demand throughout the day. July 4 may have been the first real chance at a provincial top peak, which may have caught organizations off guard, as you can see there is no visible evidence that the province’s demand started to lower before the peak, which often signifies that facilities are lowering their demand in anticipation of a peak. In this case, facilities may just not have been prepared fully to lower their demand in anticipation of a peak. Facilities also could have been placing their bets on the following day (July 5), which registered so far as Peak No. 2.

Thurs, July 4, 2019 – REA Energy Dashboard Graph

So How Much Will These Peaks Cost You?

This section will briefly summarize the Class A costs for rate payers, which can account for 60-80% of your utility bill. While Class A rates are substantial, they do allow for the rate payer to have full control over their utility bill – imagine having 0 kW of power online during these peaks – your global adjustment charge would drop to $0 for an entire year!

Class A costs are governed by two major components:

  • Monthly Global Adjustment Amount, which recently has been averaging out to $950M per month…explore more here.
  • Your Peak Demand Factor (PDF), which is determined by your percent contribution to the top 5 provincial peaks.

For a simple cost example, we will consider a facility that peaks at 1,000 kW (1 MW) during each of 2019’s provincial peaks. By reverse engineering the Class A cost equation, we find that every single kW of power online during the peak events costs about $100/kWh –> far greater than the Hourly Ontario Energy Price (HOEP) that often averages out to around $0.03/kWh. For this sample facility, peaking at 1,000 kW on the provincial peaks, would cost $100,000 per peak event, or $500,000 annually for all 5 peaks, a substantial cost that can be controlled by having a Peak Energy Reduction Plan in place. If you reverse the logic here, and assume the facility typically peaks at 1,000 kW, but when a provincial peak happens, they reduce their consumption to 500 kW using their Peak Energy Plan, a savings of $250,000 would be realized!

What We Have Learned in 2019 So Far…

  • Peaks can happen at drastically different times than originally predicted. This was seen on July 19, when the original IESO ‘morning of’ prediction was that the system would peak at Hour Ending 17:00, but the peak actually occurred at 12:00, shortly after the incorrect prediction. Ensure your plan can accommodate early peaks by turning on your generator early in the day, installing a smart battery system that ideally predicts the peak hour, or deploy your in-house plan early and hold it until you’re sure the peak has passed.
  • Peaks aren’t necessarily an obvious ‘peak’ as shown in the charts above. Provincial consumption is becoming fairly flat, making it tougher to predict the actual peak hour. Ensure your peak plan can accommodate operations being online at the same time.
  • Peaks typically happen during weekdays and in the summer. In past years we have also experienced winter peaks. This year, we experienced a potential weekend peak! Peaks can happen in winter, summer and weekends, so make sure your plan is executable at all times throughout the year.

Contact us or our REA support team today to chat further about our insights into Ontario’s electricity consumption patterns, or how you can use the REA Energy Dashboard to help visualize your data to make meaningful insights into your consumption patterns.

Manager of Engineering
E: greg.young@coengadvisors.com
C: 705-716-4315

205-3365 Harvester Road
Burlington, ON, L7N 3M8

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