Hey, Premier Ford, did Michigan Governor Whitmer at least say “Thanks” for the Free Electricity we gave her April 30th?

Several days ago, a friendly contact alerted me to some facts about electricity generation on April 30th, 2021.  He noted wind exceeded hydro in 5 of the hours and as much as 81% of wind generation was curtailed in a single hour. He also pointed out the HOEP (hourly Ontario electricity price) market price was zero or less for 22 out of 24 hours and the two hours it was positive it climbed all the way up to 41 cents per MWh* (megawatt hour)!  The foregoing is a frequent occurrence in the Spring and Fall as Ontario demand is generally low and when the wind is blowing it must be both curtailed and exported.

With curiosity piqued it led to a review of IESO data for actual wind generation, its curtailment and exports for the day.  As it turned out wind generation accepted into the grid by IESO was just shy of 56,000 MWh and curtailed wind was very close to 34,000 MWh. What that meant is owners of the approximately 4,800 MW of grid connected wind capacity will be paid $7.560 million ($135.00** per MWh) for the accepted wind generation and $4.080 million ($120.00 per MWh) for the curtailed wind.  That implies the cost per MW of grid accepted wind generation was almost $208/per MWh versus about $56/MWh for hydro and $80/MWh for nuclear.  It also appears nuclear was steamed off by Bruce Nuclear and we should suspect hydro was also spilled.  Both of those are paid for so their costs would clearly be caused by wind’s propensity to generate power when it’s not needed.

To make matters worse IESO were forced to offer surplus generation via the market and needless to say our neighbours were happy to get it for free.  We exported almost 68,000 MWh to our neighbours in New York, Quebec and Michigan presumably to avoid possible grid failure. The state of Michigan received 24,000 MWh for free.  We basically supplied about 800,000 average Michigan households (approximately 20% of Michigan households) with free electricity for the day!

Ontario has been selling Michigan our cheap electricity exports for years and since we added intermittent and unreliable wind and solar to our grid the amount, we sell to them for pennies of its cost (what Ontario’s ratepayers pay for it) has increased. 

Michigan should recognize what nice neighbours we are! Instead, Governor Whitmer wants to shut down the Enbridge Line 5 pipeline which supplies them, several neighbouring states, as well as Quebec and Ontario with oil for refineries, propane for winter heat, aircraft fuel, etc. etc.

Perhaps the time has come for Premier Ford to give Governor Whitmer a call and tell her if she shuts down Line 5, she will need to fire up more of those (current) 9,300 MW (approximate capacity) of coal plants Michigan has; versus Ontario’s zero coal plant capacity.  

The time has come for Governor Whitmer to recognize and admit Michigan ranked # 8 in 2018 by the US EIA (Energy Information Administration) in respect to CO2 emissions from coal generation and 10th overall for total CO2 emissions.  Once she solves that problem, she can consider shutting down Line 5!

*One MWh is equivalent to 1,000 kWh (kilowatt hours) or what an average Ontario household would consume in a month and a half.

**The contracts signed with those industrial wind generation companies also included a maximum COL (cost of living) allowance of 20% so were presumably paid more than the $135/MWh.

Author: parkergallantenergyperspectivesblog

Retired international banker.

3 thoughts on “Hey, Premier Ford, did Michigan Governor Whitmer at least say “Thanks” for the Free Electricity we gave her April 30th?”

  1. All reasonable except Michigan probably remembers the 3.8 million liters of crude Enbridge spilled into the Kalamazoo River in 2010 and is fearful of a repeat with the Line 5 crossing of the Great Lakes. Maybe Enbridge could convince her that THIS time they are paying attention, but somehow I doubt it. Not a question of balance regarding who provides their power as much as recognizing that a big chunk of Canada and the Northeastern US drink from those waters and it should be in everyone’s interest to not have a large scale pipeline disaster. Whether Enbridge internally cares about this or not — the optics are that far too often economizing on maintenance and just paying for disasters seems seen as far more profitable than ensuring to the extent possible that they don’t happen. And line 5 has been in service for a long time.

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    1. Enbridge proposed replacing Line 5’s straits crossing with a pipeline secured in a larger tunnel, bored beneath the lakebed. Line 5 entered service in 1953. This has been dragging though the court system for several years as the National Wildlife Federation has sued. The foregoing is ongoing even though Enbridge Inc. received a favorable ruling from the Michigan Court of Appeals regarding the utility tunnel under the Mackinac Straits that would surround a rebuilt section of the company’s 540,000-b/d Line 5 liquids pipeline. The court upheld a state Court of Claims ruling from October 2019 that a law allowing construction was not unconstitutional. The rebuilt tunnel was targeted for completion by 2024. Sure hope you are not dependent on propane for heat in the winter as it all comes to Ontario and Quebec via this line. Many in rural Ontario and rural Quebec depend on propane for heating in our cold winters.

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      1. The National Wildlife Federation has joined with the 70 member Michigan Environmental Council to appeal the Michigan Court of Appeals decision according to their article posted on their website. They don’t recognize that many rural households in Michigan also use propane as a heating source in winter. They also don’t recognize that the line also supplies refineries in neighbouring states and creates thousands of jobs in Michigan and adjoining states as well as Ontario and Quebec. “In Michigan, home to the Big Three automakers, the Michigan Manufacturers Association said in a letter supporting Enbridge and Line 5, that the supply of energy “underpins all aspects of manufacturing.” The association threw its weight behind the pipeline, saying its members drive the state’s economy and provide jobs for 628,800 residents and 20 per cent of the state’s GDP. Those who want it closed don’t recognize the damage it would cause! https://www.environmentalcouncil.org/why_were_appealling_a_judges_line_5_tunnel_ruling

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