August 5 2017 was an interesting day: the wind was blowing and the sun was shining, in part of Ontario, anyway.
Unfortunately for Ontario ratepayers that weather will cost them a lot of money.
Why? The cost stems from the fact Ontario’s demand for electricity on that day was only 317,000 megawatts (MWh),* according to the IESO Daily Market Summary, probably due to conservation efforts and mild temperatures. Low demand doesn’t save money: in fact, it will cost Ontario ratepayers millions of dollars due to bad management of the electricity sector by the current government.
I was curious about this windy, sunny day, which led me to contact Scott Luft, a master at using IESO data to give us a real picture of market demand and its costs. Scott occasionally produces “Daily Ontario Supply Estimates” which provide a picture of both our demand and generated sources, what it cost, how much was exported, how much was curtailed/spilled (wasted), etc., and even how much of the costs were picked up by Class B ratepayers versus Class A.
Scott also estimates curtailed wind, spilled hydro, etc., using a conservative approach; they are generally confirmed months later by IESO.
Scott’s daily estimate for August 5, 2017 confirmed my suspicions! Emissions-free nuclear and hydro generators alone supplied the 340,000 MWh of power Ontario needed easily, even exceeding Ontario demand by 23,000 MWh. The cost of that generation was $21.1 million. After allowing for the value of the surplus 23,000 MWh as exports at the average hourly Ontario energy price (HOEP) of $4.94/MWh the cost per MWh comes to $66.34/MWh or 6.6 cents/kWh.**
Double the cost — and you’re paying it
Part of Scott’s daily estimate includes additional costs in the form of all the other generation sources, plus curtailed wind and solar, spilled hydro, biofuel and idling costs of gas plants. When those are added to the $21.1 million of nuclear and hydro, the price billed to ratepayers for the day jumps to $37.8 million — $119.24/MWh or 11.9 cents/kWh. The Class A to Class B subsidy results in the cost per kWh for the “B” Class (that’s you and me) jumping to $131.10/MWh or 13.1 cents/kWh.
The other generation sources on Scott’s August 5 daily estimates include transmission (TX) and distributor (DX) connected generation, along with curtailed/idled, etc. costs with gas at 9,123 MWh (cost $4.1 million), wind at 49,088 MWh (cost $6.3 million), solar at 13,002 MWh (cost $6.1 million), biofuel at 701 MWh (cost $368,000) and imports of 8,563 MWh (cost $52,000).
The costs to you are mounting
Are you with me so far? What this means is, those other generation sources (including curtailed wind, etc.) of 85,000 MWh cost $16.7 million — $196.47/MWh or 19.5 cents/kWh) and are billed to … you, Ontario’s ratepayers.
Approximately $8.1 million of the day’s costs will be allocated to the Fair Hydro Plan and wind up on future electricity bills. If August 5 was a typical day, the amount kicked down the road for the next four years by the Premier Wynne-led government will amount to $3 billion annually (plus interest). (The $8.1 million estimate for this day comes from the use of what is referred to as the “Global Adjustment Modifier” set by the OEB at $32.90/MWh from July 1, 2017 to April 30, 2018 and will be reset at the later date. The $8.1 million was obtained by simply multiplying Class B consumption — 246,000 MWh — by the $32.90 “Modifier”.)
Mismanagement of the energy portfolio by the Wynne-led government on August 5 generated a cost for Class B ratepayers that was excessive. It will continue, and lead to an explosion of households living in “energy poverty”*** when the Fair Hydro Plan comes to an end in four years.
The Minister of Energy needs to recognize the problems caused by intermittent and unreliable renewable energy! Once he understands the latter he should immediately cancel any wind and solar contracted projects that have not commenced construction, along with any in the early planning stages.
Kicking the can down the road via the Fair Hydro Act is anything but fair. Paying twice for non-emitting clean energy simply amplifies the bad management this portfolio has received from our government.
August 11, 2017
* Some of the above MWh references are rounded to the nearest thousand.
** The 6.6 cent rate, coincidentally, is close to our new off-peak rate of 6.5 cents/kWh (previously 8.7 cents/kWh) which came into effect July 1, 2017. The lower rate is a result of the “Fair Hydro Plan” instituted by the Premier Wynne that kicked 25% of the costs down the road for four years. The Off-Peak rate back on May 1, 2007 was 3.2 cents/kWh so even after the recent reduction it is still up over 103% in the last 10 years.
*** Energy poverty is generally defined as utilizing 10% or more of a household’s disposal income to pay for their electricity and heating needs.