Niagara Fails

A quick post with commentary on a graphic.

NY_ON_comparable hydro gen YTD

I’ve been writing little but learning more recently. I’ve written multiple times on the inability of Ontario to fully utilize its water rights on the Niagara river, so that’s some data that I looked to learn some new data connections and summary techniques. Having advanced to where I can easily update to the latest available data I thought I’d share this view summarizing it – and offer some brief comments explaining the significance.

New York and Ontario have 2 complementary sets of generators as the share water rights on the Niagara river system, and they share a dam at the other end of Lake Ontario utilizing, and controlling, the outlet to the St. Lawrence river. Both systems should be capable of delivering equal electricity, but on the Niagara systems this has generally not been true.

note: I wrote on the situation on the Ontario side most recently in Transmission constraining Ontario’s Niagara Hydroelectric potential. That article contains links to previous work on the topic going back to 2011.

The latest available monthly data from the US side is for March 2018, so the comparison charted is year-to-data March totals since 2003 (the Ontario data I’ve collected begins with the Ontario market in May of 2002).

The failure to utilize the full potential of the Niagara river water rights looks to have been as bad in the first quarter of 2018 as it was in 2017 – when it was all-time record bad.

At the other end of Lake Ontario it appears more water was let out of Lake Ontario earlier in 2018 – raising output from the generators on both sides of the dam. That is not unsurprising as management of the water levels was blamed for flooding during the spring of 2017, but it does hint the International Joint Commission may have altered the management plan despite denials the earlier change resulted in the flooding.


One final note on the output at the dam controlling Lake Ontario’s outlet into the St. Lawrence. In recent years I’ve been able to track generation on the Canadian side that does not report as “Saunders” in the IESO’s generation and output tables (the source of the data I use for Ontario). I cannot do so in earlier years – at least not that I’ve discovered. My expectation is that the output on the Canadian side and the American side has always been essentially equal, and the apparent shortfall on the Canadian side prior to 2012 indicated output from Saunders that directly fed into Quebec’s HVDC grid.


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