Don’t expect visionary long-term energy planning in Ontario

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November 7, 2016

The concept of “long term” for Ontario’s Liberal government and its energy ministers appears to be two or three years at best, or when a new minister is appointed.

Energy Minister Glenn Thibeault, who took over the reins last June, has now launched his version of “long-term” planning in the Long-Term Energy Plan (LTEP). Consultations on the new plan are being held throughout November in various locations.

Minister Thibeault’s vision differs widely from his predecessor’s. Chiarelli’s view in 2013 was: “Several factors are at play that are likely to put upward pressure on electricity prices over the next several years, including the costs of rebuilding and renewing the electricity system and the supply gap that is likely to emerge toward the end of the current decade.

Chiarelli added, “Although the global economic downturn of the past few years dampened electricity demand in Ontario and elsewhere, a shortfall in capacity may emerge as early as 2018.”

Chiarelli’s version was full of bad news like that about supply gaps, whereas Minister Thibeault’s preamble to the launch of a new plan suggests, three years later, everything is rosy: “We have a robust supply of all forms of energy for at least the next 10 years.”

Anyone looking at the two forecasts would wonder what happened in that three-year time frame to so dramatically alter the vision.  Let’s examine a few of the changes:

In 2012 we exported 14.6 terawatts (TWh) of surplus energy at an average price of $24.07 per MWh (megawatt). That cost Ontario’s ratepayers $73.30/MWh to generate, so exports added about $720 million to the commodity cost.

In 2015 we exported 22.6 TWh (up 54.8% from 2012 and 16.5% of Ontario’s demand) of surplus energy at an average price of $23.58/MWh. That cost Ontario ratepayers $101.38/MWh to generate, so exports added about $1.8 billion to the commodity cost.

Save on energy … and pay more anyway

It is worth noting Ontario ratepayers reduced consumption from 2013 to 2015 by 3% (4.3 TWh) but saw their cost of electricity soar by 32%, principally due to contracts for the addition of about 3,000 MW of intermittent and unreliable power from industrial wind turbines and solar panels. The average commodity cost in July 2013 at the launch of Minister Chiarelli’s “Conservation First” long-term plan was 8.4 cents per kilowatt (kWh); at the launch of Minister Thibeault’s planning document it is 11.1 cents/kWh.

At this point in time it is obvious former Energy Minister Bob Chiarelli’s “gap” perhaps lay in the ability of his ministry to recognize that one of his predecessors (Dwight Duncan) had agreed to Bruce Nuclear refurbishing as many as four of their nuclear units. The Auditor General in a “special report” for the Ministry noted: A Limited Partnership (Bruce A LP), was formed, to not only refurbish Units 1 and 2 but also take over Cameco’s interest in Units 3 and 4 and make future improvements to them. Bruce A LP would thus ulti­mately be operating and maintaining all four Bruce A units. Those four units represent about 3,200 MW of reliable baseload power!

It seems obvious there are serious flaws in the planning process if we can go from a “shortfall” to a “robust supply” in only three years, knowing major generation supply sources take years of planning, development and construction.

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8 thoughts on “Don’t expect visionary long-term energy planning in Ontario”

  1. It is so obvious that we need a team of experts in the fields relevant to the energy portfolio to work together and plan for safe and affordable energy needs in this province.
    This needs to be an election issue. We can not afford to have people who are ill prepared make such crucially important decisions on behalf of the residents of this province.
    The MOECC was not prepared to handle the onslaught of complaints they received about noise from industrial wind turbines and their infrastructure, which have been sited too close to peoples’ homes.
    The Ministry of Health was not prepared to deal with the frightened residents who have been/are experiencing distressing sensations and symptoms because they are being harmed by low frequency noise modulations and infrasound radiation from these turbines. Their nervous systems are being bombarded. Homes were allowed to be surrounded by turbines, so even the siting policy written into the Green Energy Act was a mistake.
    Add to this the fact that our own engineers in Ontario have declared that these turbines have not and will not reduce CO2 emissions, and we have the results of a course of action that had not had a proper cost/benefit analysis done to prevent this incredible waste of money.
    This could have been prevented.

    Thank you Parker for your diligence in sorting through this mess!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. One wonders what game the Liberals are playing. For several years, they claimed that generation capacity was too limited to meet demand, thus (allegedly) justifying their commitment of billions of dollars of ratepayers’ money to the construction of solar panels and industrial wind turbines. Now, they claim that we face a long-term surplus, but do not draw the obvious conclusion that all contracting for costly renewable energy generation should cease. Instead, my guess is that they are laying the groundwork for a decision to phase out nuclear energy, so as to further the environmentalist/anti nuclear cause. One might argue that the “plan” is less important than the principles that should guide utility power planning. A return to achieving the lowest cost supply consistent with assured reliability would seem to make sense.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I think Robert is right. The secret agenda of the Liberals could be to phase out nuclear. Gas plant capacity in Ontario (not generation) is already up to 28%. They keep adding wind power and other (FIT 5 150MW) than they say “hey, we have so much capacity in natural gas, hydro and wind, lets close nuclear plants”.
    Emissions are not important for the Liberals.

    Like

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