Inflexible electricity contracts and a “perfect storm” of supply and demand factors has resulted in negative electricity prices in Ontario:

Just a few years ago we were worried about having enough power to keep Ontario running. These days, we’re paying people to take it.

Ontario wholesale electricity prices were below zero for roughly a third of the 648 hours between March 24 and April 19, according to the province’s Independent Electricity System Operator.

This means industrial and commercial electricity consumers who purchased power on the spot market got paid for one out of every three hours during the period.

Large customers in the United States were also able to import the power at a negative price. Together, these large users of electricity represent 30 per cent to 40 per cent of Ontario’s power load.

The situation is expected to continue:

In an 18-month forecast issued last month, the system operator predicted that periods of surplus baseload generation will likely be more common, as restarted nuclear units and more wind projects are added to the system.

But despite this outlook, the Ontario Energy Board recently announced an increase in electricity costs to residential households of 7.1%. I’ve got a smart meter at my house; maybe it’s time to switch to spot market pricing.