The outlook for Ontario's electricity system is positive said the Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO) in two new reports released yesterday. Over the next 18 months, more than 4,600 MW of new supply is scheduled to come into service, including about 3,000 MW of gas-fired generation, 800 MW of nuclear generation, 100 MW of hydroelectric generation and 700 MW of wind generation.

"This amount of new generation would represent the greatest increase in new supply ever scheduled to come on-line in Ontario over an 18-month period," said Derek Cowbourne, IESO chief operating officer.

The 18-Month Outlook, which is released quarterly, indicates that under the normal weather scenario, sufficient resources will be available within Ontario to meet expected requirements during all but one week over the next year and a half. Ontario may need to rely on imports from neighboring jurisdictions to maintain reliability if extreme weather occurs or if equipment performance is below normal.

Reliability within the GTA for summer 2008 is expected to be adequate, but this will depend on the availability of the autotransformers feeding the GTA, the availability of the Pickering Generating Station units, and the planned addition of the Portlands Energy Centre.

While the Ontario transmission system is expected to be adequate to supply the normal demands over the next 18 months, the timely completion of proposed transmission facilities remains a key component to addressing future reliability needs.

In the second report, the Ontario Reliability Outlook, the IESO identifies the industry's need to shift the focus to ensuring that the new supply is implemented in time to meet Ontario's needs as well as addressing the integration and operational challenges of a complex and changing generation mix.

"Ontario's future supply includes increased amounts of less manoeuvrable generation such as distributed generation, wind-powered generation, and new combined cycle gas-fired generation. These resources cannot as easily be ramped up to meet increasing load or reduced as demand drops off," said Cowbourne. "The IESO is working with its partners to implement ways to accommodate the operating characteristics of these generating sources. The challenge of integrating them should not be underestimated."

Through the Ontario Reliability Outlook, the IESO continues to raise concerns about the uncertainty around the length of approvals processes, which presents risks to the timely implementation of the planned generation and transmission projects.