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Ontario will waste more clean electricity due to COVID-19, engineer group says

Last Updated Sep 3, 2020 at 9:07 am EST

Hydro One electricity transmission lines are seen south of Chesley, Ont., on Sept. 29, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Colin Perkel

The amount of clean electricity wasted in Ontario is expected to increase significantly this year as a result of the changes in energy consumption brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the association representing the province’s engineers.

The Ontario Society of Professional Engineers released an updated analysis today that found Ontario wasted a total of 6.5 terawatt-hours of clean electricity last year, which it says is enough to power 720,000 average-sized homes for a year.

The organization says that’s a 12-per-cent increase in wasted electricity compared with 2018 — and it should go up further this year in light of the pandemic.

It says Ontario’s electricity system is built to support businesses operating between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., with a large percentage of homes left idle for at least eight hours a day.

The group says those patterns have “drastically” changed in the last six months, largely due to shifts in workplace and business operations, leading to an “inevitable increase in wasted electricity.”

It says while there have been some periods of peak demand, there remain “many, many hours” where surplus electricity is generated and either wasted or exported at low prices.