Ontario’s six-month electricity summary shows that the new government’s promise of cutting costs is going to be tough to achieve. Is it impossible?
IESO finally released their June “Monthly Summary Report” allowing one to determine if Ontario ratepayers consumed more or less electricity in the first six months of 2019 compared to 2018. As it turns out, grid-connected (TX) consumption was down by 270,000 megawatt hours (MWh), dropping from 66,847 GWh (gigawatt hours) to 66,577 GWh.
Ontario’s gross exports also dropped nominally from 9,791 GWh to 9,718 GWh, but the cost to Ontario ratepayers (due to a higher GA [global adjustment])* in 2019 is approximately $1 billion, and in 2018 up to the end of June, the cost was less at approximately $920 million. The combined average as at June 30th of the HOEP and the GA jumped by $7.14 per MWh for Class B ratepayers from 2018, meaning it added about $346 million in additional costs in the six months. While most of those increased costs won’t suddenly show up in November when rates are reset by the OEB, it will accumulate in the “Global Adjustment Modifier”** and will hit ratepayers and taxpayers in the future.
Hydro One’s six-month results: Comparing the consumption drop IESO reported to Hydro One’s six-month report is interesting: they noted “Electricity distributed to Hydro One customers” actually increased by 294 GWh from 13,517 GWh to 13,811 GWh or 2.2%. Revenue (net of purchased power) from Hydro One’s local distribution customers however was up by $134 million*** or an impressive 17.7% mainly due to rate increases granted by the OEB. Transmission revenue was down $49 million (5.8%) as Hydro One stated: “due to cooler weather in the 2nd Quarter” and “lower peak demand”. Despite the overall $85 million revenue jump, Hydro One’s net income was down $96 million as they took the hit for the aborted Avista acquisition along with increases in financing charges and higher OMA costs.
The net income drop meant Hydro One paid out 84.2% ($282 million) of their net income via dividends to shareholders. This was in excess of their targeted payout rate of 70% – 80%. Ratepayers should hope the OEB takes this into account during present and future rate application reviews as, to the best of my knowledge, municipally owned LDC (local distribution companies) payout ratios are in the 50%-60% range! Toronto Hydro, as one example earned $167.3 million in 2018 and paid out $93.9 million in dividends to the City of Toronto for a 56.1% dividend rate. Retaining equity helps keep rates down!
OPG’s six-month results:
Ontario Power Generation just released their financial results for the first six months of 2019 and it looks like they are back in business, generating more electricity and big profits. For the first six months of the current year they generated 39.3 TWh versus 36 TWh in 2018 increasing their percentage of TX generation consumed by Ontario ratepayers from 53.9% to 59%. As well, “Income before interest and income taxes” for the “Electricity generating business segments” was up by 44.4% to $715 million from $496 million. While some of the increase was due to increased generation, most of it was due to the fact that the OEB granted substantial increases for both nuclear (increased to 8.1 cents/kWh from 7.5 cents/kWh [+8%]) and hydro (increased to 4.5 cents/kWh from 4.2 cents/kWh [+7.1%]) having sat on the rate application approvals**** for a considerable time. Additionally, OPG were paid for 2.2 TWh of spilled hydro in 2019 versus 2 TWh in 2018 adding $15 million to revenue; however, the real shocker in the reported results was the fact they show OMA costs dropped $35 million.
Industrial wind turbines six-month results: Thanks to Scott Luft’s data, wind power’s contribution (if one can call it that) for the six months for 2019 was up all-in (TX and DX [distribution connected] plus curtailed) slightly to 7.3 TWh versus 6.9 TWh in 2018. The overall cost however, was higher jumping from approximately $955 million to $1.079 billion. Coincidently, the 7.3 TWh of 2019 is 83% of gross exports versus 80.9% of 2018’s gross exports. That simply demonstrates the fact that wind turbines do nothing more than add to the costs of generating electricity in Ontario. We could have easily done without their generation and their added costs! Many people who have experienced health problems caused by the audible and inaudible noises produced by the turbines would also welcome their demise.
Conclusion: One can determine from all this that the rising cost of electricity generation in Ontario has not slowed or stopped despite the change of government just over one year ago.
The damage caused through implementation of the Green Energy and Green Economy Act in 2009 continues and it is difficult to see how the current government will reverse the harm the GEA caused.
*The GA pot only affects Ontario ratepayers as the market price (HOEP) is the price surplus electricity is sold at in the export market. **The Ontario Minister of Energy announced future rate increases would be held to the rate of inflation. ***In the 6-month comparison Hydro One’s average “Delivery” charge increased from 5.59 cents/kWh to 6.44 cents/kWh or 15.3% for their 1.3 million customers. ****This was noted by the Energy Minister when passing the “Fixing the Hydro Mess Act”.