October 16, 2016
The Canadian Wind Energy Association (CanWEA), the wind power development lobbyist and trade association, posted a declaration last week defending wind power, saying it has no role in Ontario’s rising electricity bills. CanWEA’s Regional Director for Ontario Brandy Giannetta posted an article on their website claiming she has facts showing that wind power is a minor factor in the raft of electricity bill increases we have seen in Ontario.
Her chief source of information is a study conducted in 2014 by Power Advisory for “environmental action organization” Environmental Defence; this study has been very influential on the Wynne government’s energy policy.
The claim by CanWEA needs to be challenged. Let’s look at real facts from the Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO). Scott Luft collects wind data from IESO and posts it monthly on his energy analysis website. His estimates of “curtailed” generation are indeed estimates; however, they have proven to be conservative over the past couple of years.
Luft posted data on wind power in Ontario in the first nine months of the current year; wind generated 7,035,901 megawatt hours (MWh) of electricity and curtailed* another 1,558,555 MWh. The power restricted or curtailed actually represents slightly more than 18% of total power generation from wind.
Together (assuming an average price of $123.50/MWh), the cost of the 8,594,456 MWh of generated and curtailed wind cost ratepayers about $1,061,415.000. What Luft has also done is use IESO data to determine the HOEP (hourly Ontario energy price) during the generation and curtailment times and, based on that data, the market valuation of that almost 8.6 terawatt hours (TWh) was just shy of $87 million. What that clearly indicates is the market value of 8.6 million of generated and curtailed wind contracted as a result of the GEA cost Ontario ratepayers $974 million for unneeded power that was principally exported or curtailed because it was surplus to our needs.
The data from the first nine months of the current year suggest approximately 90% of the costs associated with generating unneeded electricity from industrial wind turbines (curtailed and exported) were costs adding no value to Ontario’s ratepayers (except for the 1 cent per kilowatt hour they would have received in a truly competitive market environment).
What this means is, the Auditor General’s observation that the government of Ontario needed to do a cost/benefit study for its non-hydro renewable energy program has become patently obvious. The wind power lobby can claim what it wants about wind power’s role in electricity bills, but the figures speak for themselves.
*IESO definition: curtailment means the involuntary curtailment of non-dispatchable load as a result of insufficient generation capacity, of a limitation in the capacity of a transmission system or of actions taken by the IESO pursuant to Chapter 5 to maintain the reliability of the IESO-controlled grid or of the electricity system