No More “Carrot and Stick” requirements for Class A Ontario Ratepayers

Recently, Steven Del Duca, leader of the Ontario Liberal Party (OLP) was interviewed on NewsTalk 960 AM by Marc Patrone. While the interview dealt principally with the Covid-19 pandemic at long term care homes, near the end, Marc asked a few questions related to the “electricity” sector which resulted in Del Duca’s berating the Ford government for cancelling some renewable energy contracts at a reputed cost of $200 million.  When Marc then asked about the “gas plant moves” Del Duca’s response was to start dancing and he seemed unable to justify the money wasted when the Liberals held power saying; “it’s complicated, it’s complex”!

The ratepayers and taxpayers of Ontario are certainly aware of the complications and complexities of the electricity bills they receive and most blame the OLP for that.  They were the ruling party who created the GEA in 2009 granting expensive 20-year contracts to wind and solar companies (mainly foreign) that drove up electricity prices. Those contracts negatively affected the ability of large, medium and small companies in the province, resulting in veiled threats from large multinational companies saying they would be forced to leave the province due to the cost of electricity.  Those large corporations via the Association of Major Power Consumers of Ontario (AMPCO) commenced lobbying the McGuinty led government as soon as they saw electricity prices start their climb.

AMPCO were successful as Brad Duguid, Minister of Energy on March 4, 2010 instructed the Ontario Power Authority “to undertake the responsibility for creating and delivering an industrial energy efficiency program (the “Program”) with the objective of achieving cost-effective conservation through industrial process improvements that bring energy efficiency gains.”  Needless to say, the OPA did as told and created the Industrial Conservation Initiative (ICI) allowing large industrial users to reduce their demand by picking five (5) peak hours over the year in order to be granted a reduction in the Global Adjustment by reducing demand during those five hours.  The ICI took effect in September 2011 for the benefit of the AMPCO members who were then classified as Class A ratepayers with the rest us now referenced as Class B.  Minister Duguid’s letter to the OPA indicated up to $660 million could be handed out as “incentive funding to Participating Consumers. Incentives shall be sufficient to generate attractive rates of investment return for Participating Consumers in projects that meet the objective of achieving cost effective conservation.”  Many used those funds to invest in load displacement generation (eg: gas generators) so they could continue to operate during peak hours.

As recently noted by my friend Scott Luft, since the ICI inception in late 2011 through to the end of 2019 the cost to Class B ratepayers was approximately $1.4 billion (average of about $170 million per annum) paid to reduce the GA for those large industrial ratepayers as his recent chart shows.

Running the Class B to Class A transfer for 2019 shows the GA for Class B ratepayers was $108/MWh whereas for Class A ratepayers it was $49.63/MWh making the overall cost to Class B ratepayers just over $200 million for the 40 TWh (terawatt hours) Class A ratepayers consumed. It is worth noting the lower the HOEP (hourly Ontario electricity price) market price is during a month, the higher the B to A subsidy becomes.

The reduced consumption we are experiencing due to the Covid-19 pandemic lock-down has exacerbated the province’s surplus generation causing us to not only export more but also to curtail more wind, spill more hydro and steam-off more nuclear.  One would expect the added surplus would reduce the HOEP as it does when consumption falls and therefore benefits Class A ratepayers.

Undisclosed Class A Stable Electricity Pricing

Recognizing the foregoing Class B to Class A subsidy it came as a complete shock to note a press release was issued at 3.30 PM, Friday June 26,2020 by the Ministry of Energy, Northern Development and Mines, Greg Rickford, announcing the province would provide “Stable Electricity Pricing for Industrial and Commercial Companies”!   The reason for this unexpected late Friday announcement appears to be a concern that peak hours occur during the summer and the Ministry suggests “these large employers can focus on getting their operations back up and running at full tilt.” Instead of “adjusting operations in response to peak electricity demand hours.

What is disturbing about the press release is that it doesn’t disclose what the rate freeze has been set at nor does it disclose the estimated cost and who will bear it!

Will the cost of the freeze be layered onto all of the residential and small/medium sized ratepayers or will it be the taxpayers picking up the costs? Did AMPCO successfully lobby for this rate freeze and abolition of the requirement to increase their members conservation efforts?

While most Ontarians recognize the electricity portfolio is indeed both “complicated” and “complex” this action by the Ministry only adds to it!

Time for the Ford led government to fix the mess in this Ministry and not give the Liberals further ammunition to suggest; “it’s complicated, it’s complex”!

Author: parkergallantenergyperspectivesblog

Retired international banker.

5 thoughts on “No More “Carrot and Stick” requirements for Class A Ontario Ratepayers”

  1. I wonder if Scott Luft and Parker Gallant could collaborate and inform, direct, suggest to the Ministry of Energy and Ford how to run the provincial electrical grid?

    I am so fed up with being on the losing end of the stick! My hydro bills, thanks to Fords wonderful flat rate, have increased. By removing my option to do my heavy lifting after hours I can no longer save where it matters. It’s especially frustrating because to watch as he’s still patting himself on the back for saving the day. Who got saved? Sure isn’t Ontario rate payers.

    Thanks for the number crunch and info!

    Like

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