The OEB and IESO are Coming After us Ratepayers Again

It appears the almost 200 employees at the OEB and the over 700 employees at IESO who collectively must survive on an average annual salary, plus benefits, of only $150K are concerned as the Covid-19 pandemic has affected people in the province.

If for some reason you felt their concerns were related to all the people who have been laid off or will lose their jobs or businesses because of the pandemic you would be sadly mistaken!

The concern, as expressed by the OEB is with OPG and electricity transmitters, ie: Hydro One!  Their recent letter of April 29, 2020 instructs those two parties to:  establish “Deferral Accounts to Record Impacts Arising from the COVID-19 Emergency”.  The letter notes; “electricity and natural gas distributors* may incur incremental costs as a result of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.”  As a result, the “OEB ordered the establishment of a deferral account with sub-accounts for electricity and natural gas distributors to use to track any incremental costs and lost revenues related to the COVID-19 pandemic effective March 24, 2020.”

NB: deferral accounts are set up to recoup lost revenue!

The IESO held a webinar April 23, 2020 titled: “An overview of COVID-19 impacts on electricity system operations” to also deal with the issues.

IESO disclosed some interesting pieces of information in their webinar such as:  “IESO and stakeholders have been limiting staff on-site, deferring non-essential work, and focusing on core operations” and “A third control room was built and successfully deployed in 10 days, which can be used to further maintain physical separation of control room operators”.

The latter disclosure is a big wow, as many of us have been after IESO to provide up-to-date disclosure information on issues such as: curtailed wind, spilled hydro, embedded generation etc. etc. for years without success but show them a “pandemic” and they can apparently accomplish a new “control room” in 10 days!  A simple search on the IESO website of “transparency” generates 2,290 hits but for some reason they have difficulty generating the foregoing information for those of us with a curious mind!

IESO’s webinar does provide some interesting information and the following stands out not so much for its truthfulness as much as for what IESO ignores.  First, what they posted: “High surplus baseload generation (SBG) conditions are often observed in the spring when demand is low and there are large amounts of energy from hydroelectric resources caused by higher water levels”.  The foregoing comes as no surprise however, what is surprising is, they make no mention of either wind or solar’s penchant to produce much higher generation during the Spring!  Why focus on what we all know and avoid what we would like to know?

Needless to say, the webinar info discloses (with the exception of residential consumption increasing by 4%) all segments: small commercial, industrial, etc. are showing decreased consumption in the double digit category meaning surplus baseload generation is being exported (at very cheap prices) or (non-disclosed) we are curtailing wind or spilling hydro and it will appear in our future bills and we must pay for it.

Add the above to the OEB and IESO efforts to ensure OPG and Hydro One employees (as well as themselves) can maintain their lifestyles and watch those OEB “deferral accounts” bound upwards.

Ratepayers should prepare themselves for future rate increases to ensure all those overworked and underpaid “public service” employees in the electricity sector receive their entitlements!

*While the word “distributors” is used we are unsure if that applies to all of the almost 70 LDC (local distribution companies) in the province.

Author: parkergallantenergyperspectivesblog

Retired international banker.

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