Parker Gallant eats crow on gas power generation (really!)

An eye-opening tour of the Lennox plant in Eastern Ontario leads to starting calculations, too

Lennox power station in Bath–fast, efficient, low cost …what the heck did we need wind power for? [Photo: OPG]
Back in late May and just before the Ontario provincial election, I wrote a “what if” post titled; “If I were Ontario’s new Minister of Energy ” which was suggested how I would undertake to reduce the costs of electricity.

So far, a few of my recommendations have actually happened.

I won’t linger over the enacted or missed ones but I will focus instead on my suggestion that we close the “Lennox oil/gas plant in Napanee/Bath with a capacity of 2,200 MW that is never used.”

I received an invitation to tour the Lennox plant and I accepted! The tour was led by John Hefford, VP Regional Operations-Eastern Region, who has responsibility for not only Lennox but for all the hydro generating facilities located in the eastern part of Ontario, which (including Lennox), totals about 4,800 MW — that’s about 30% of OPG’s total capacity.

Driving toward the Lennox plant one can’t help but notice, in the distance, the industrial wind turbines (IWTs) recently built on Amherst Island (“owl capital” of North America).  That project is considered one of the most divisive wind power projects ever awarded a contract by IESO under the McGuinty/Wynne  governments.

The tour combined with a takeaway “Overview” of Lennox was truly enlightening.  The most noteworthy bits of information picked up were related to the ability of each of the four 525-MW turbines to ramp up quickly from their minimum load point of only 28 MW or 5%.  To put that into perspective, the other gas plants operating in Ontario are mainly CCGTs (Combined Cycle Gas Turbines) and they have to idle at minimum loads that are six to 14 times higher.

The ramping load point at Lennox logically translates to much lower emissions than the units added to Ontario’s grid(s) backing up industrial wind turbines (IWT) and solar under the FIT (feed-in-tariff) program.

The other significant difference between the CCGTs and single-cycle Combustion Turbines (CTs) is in respect to idling costs: for Lennox the cost is about $4,200 MW per month versus CCGT generators with costs of $10,000 MW per month to $20,000 MW per month, and CTs which average about $10,000 MW.

Another impressive piece of information picked up on the tour is the ability of the units to operate on either natural gas or residual oil (or both). That means, if a fuel cost spikes due to high demand (e.g., gas in the “Polar Vortex” winter of 2014) Lennox can switch to the other fuel. Lennox was also recently called on when a Pickering nuclear unit was shut down due to the 2018 Lake Ontario algae situation.

IESO forecasted shortfall                                                                                                         It appears likely Lennox will be called on to provide the capacity during the shortfall that  the IESO projects during the upcoming nuclear refurbishment years. From a ratepayer perspective, it makes sense.

Carbon tax calculations

Completing the tour and driving home led me to the questions of how much Ontario’s ratepayers might have saved if Lennox had been deemed the back-up for wind and solar power generation or had been used to generate electricity instead of handing out high priced 20-year contracts under the FIT program.  The first question would take an inordinate amount of research, so I opted for the latter!

A report (IESO prepared?) titled the Ontario Energy Report has a chart showing emissions generated by the electricity sector and the report for year-end 2017 indicated emissions in Ontario were 14 mt* in 2009 and 3 mt in 2017, for a decline of 11 mt in 9 years. The decline was touted by the Wynne government as attributable to renewable energy in the form of wind and solar.

Looking only at the wind power generation and its associated cost in those nine years provides an indication of just how much Ontario’s ratepayers have paid on a per ton basis to achieve that 11 mt drop! According to the IESO, from 2009 to 2017, wind turbines generated 53.1 TWh (terawatt hours) and since we commenced paying for curtailed power (paid for but not used), ratepayers picked up those costs for about 6.9 TWh.

So, the approximate costs of the grid-accepted wind power generation was about $7.2 billion, and for the curtailed generation was another $800 million. That brings the overall costs of the 11 mt reduction to about $8 billion!

The cost of that reduction of 11 mt looking at IWT (generation and curtailed) only and without solar, works out to $655/ton!

Ontario’s ratepayers have obviously done their bit to reduce emissions and will continue to pay more until the wind turbines and those 20-year FIT contracts finally expire.

We don’t need a carbon tax.

PARKER GALLANT

P.S. The second in this two-part series about Lennox will follow shortly, covering off how much we might have saved without wind power

*mt denotes “megaton” equal to one million tons.

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CanWEA makes promises it can’t keep

CanWEA’s ramping up rhetoric

While Robert Hornung, president of the Canadian Wind Energy Association (CanWEA), was all smiles at the trade association’s recent conference and exhibition in Calgary he must be concerned that the world is wising up to the unabashed conclusion: industrial wind turbines do nothing more than drive up electricity prices!  At the start of the conference Hornung launched “A Wind Energy Vision for Canada”, full of selective information aimed at rallying those present so they push the agenda and keep the gravy train rolling.

The CanWEA “vision” says nothing about how wind power projects affect humans by generating audible and inaudible noise along with infrasound or how they are responsible for killing birds and bats or even how they need back-up power when the wind is dormant.  The latter means the costs of delivering a kilowatt hour (kWh) of generation needs fast response back-up power at the ready to ramp up within minutes. Failing available back-up generation (usually natural gas) to respond to IWT cyclical, intermittent and unreliable generation would impact electricity grids causing brownouts or blackouts.

The CanWEA “vision” links to an October 1, 2018 posting on their website that brags about a variety of different issues, making claims like as “New wind energy would help keep Ontario’s electricity supply reliable, as well as more affordable.” And, this one: “Canada can get more than one-third of its electricity from wind energy”.  CanWEA backed this up by saying: Other jurisdictions around the world are proving this – for example, Denmark now produces more than 44 per cent of its electricity from wind turbines on an annual basis”.

What they fail to mention is that Denmark has the most expensive electricity costs in the EU with prices equivalent to Canadian $0.45cents/kWh.

A “Vision” claim                                                                                                                           The “vision” makes many claims that are spurious, including this one about environmental sustainability: “Wind energy does not produce greenhouse gas emissions, air or water pollution, nor hazardous, toxic or radioactive waste.”

That is superficial. Why? The intermittent and unreliable nature of wind requires it to be backed up with responsive generation generally in the form of natural gas or coal plants.  This is evident in particular in Germany (electricity prices are the 2nd highest in EU) where a recent article stated “Despite the billions spent on wind and solar, the country is still hooked on coal, relying on it for almost 40 percent of its electricity. Coal provides the backup power needed when the wind doesn’t blow and the sun isn’t shining, something that will become even more crucial when the last nuclear plants close in 2022.” The claim that wind turbines don’t produce greenhouse gases may be somewhat true, but due to their unreliable nature they cause greenhouses gases to be generated by their back-up fossil fuel plants.

The CanWEA statement suggesting wind turbines don’t cause “air or water pollution” can also be easily disputed. The spinning blades kill birds and bats and produce a range of noise emissions(audible and inaudible) which are linked to health problems.

We have also seen how construction and operation of turbines may be involved in the contamination and failure of wells as noted in Chatham Kent where well water was affected.   Hydrologist Bill Clarke noted: “Simply stated, wind towers, for generating electrical power, should never have been constructed over the extremely fragile contact aquifer of the Kettle Point shale” where 19 families experienced distinct, observable changes in their well water, which expresses itself as cloudy and often includes dark particulates.

It should also be noted that while the fuel powering the turbines is non-polluting, the average 400 tons of cement securing the turbines towers and the turbines and generators along with those blades are simply full of both toxic and hazardous waste, some of which is not recyclable!

More rhetoric                                                                                                                                  CanWEA wasn’t finished with the bombast.

On November 1, 2018 their blog carried this post: “Cancelling renewable energy contracts in Ontario will negatively impact investor confidence”!  Why? Well, the lobbyist group said, “Investors rely on the rule of law and contract rights when they scope, build and operate projects in the province. Calls for cancelling contracts and stranding assets shakes investor confidence and risks undermining Ontario’s investment climate – and at the wrong time and for the wrong reason.”

CanWEA naturally ignored the fact that the rebellion on Ontario electricity prices was caused by renewable energy (wind and solar) being granted first to the grid rights and long-term contracts with prices exceeding what other markets were paying.  Those excessive electricity costs have driven investment out of the province in droves commencing with the passing of the Green Energy Act when, shortly after passing, Xstrata announced it would close its Timmins smelter and move it to Quebec.  One of the reasons for the closure was the high cost of electricity.

In a further effort to colour the costs to Ontario’s ratepayers of wind turbines, CanWEA proffered this reputed benefit: “The province’s wind sector will generate $12.5 billion in investment in Ontario in the 2006-2030 timeframe. Along with that investment will come 64,500 person-years of employment, $4.6 billion in earnings for Ontarians, and an additional $6.2 billion in provincial GDP.”

But that claim does not note the investment will extract approximately $45 billion from ratepayer’s pockets over the 24 years “2006-2030,” meaning the claimed investment will be returned four-fold!  Likewise, those 64,500 person-years of employment with the claimed $4.6 billion in earnings amounts to a miserly $3,000 per job when spread over those same 24 years.

The time has come for companies involved in industrial wind projects to pack their bags and find another country with gullible politicians!

PARKER GALLANT

What are the indirect costs of the Trudeau government carbon tax?

Families should plan now for their carbon tax — er, “pollution tax” rebate.  You might soon be told you’ll need sweaters as part of a climate action plan.

[Photo: Dan Gold]
Trying to determine exactly what the federal Liberal government is doing with their plan to tax “pollution” via a carbon tax is an exercise in total frustration. The recent announcement from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau promised taxpayers in the four* provinces that said they will not impose a carbon tax, was that he will be hitting them with “a price on pollution that causes climate change from coast to coast to coast”!

He went on to say he would help Canadians adjust to the tax by handing out rebates to 80% of the families in those four provinces and claimed “eight in ten families will get back more than they pay directly”!

What they will pay indirectly is unknown.

Curiosity piqued, I decided to calculate how much that might be.

Emissions by the four provinces total (Source: StatsCan 2016) 273.1 megatonnes so, at $20 per tonne, the “pollution” tax should** generate $5,462 billion (rounded to $5.4 billion).

StatsCan (2015) says there are 6,513,000 households in the four provinces. Trudeau said rebates in the first year to each household would be as follows: Ontario $307, New Brunswick $248, Manitoba $336 and Saskatchewan $598. The total rebates will therefore be around $1.6 billion meaning about $3.4/3.8 billion will be “indirect” *** taxes increasing the cost of other consumption by $522 per household.

So, the “rebate” will represent about 30% of the total “pollution” tax the federal government will levy under the “National Carbon Plan” or NCP. The Prime Minister claims all the funds collected under the NCP will be disbursed to other recipients such as schools, universities, municipalities, hospitals, etc. etc.

Now, forgive me if I engage in wild speculation about the future when Canadian households start to experience the NCPP (National Carbon Poverty Plan). It might be like Ontario households when they experienced the cost of electricity surging over 100% in just 10 years. I suspect we will experience rhetoric similar to that from Ontario’s various energy ministers such as Bob Chiarelli and his “It’s less than a cup of Tim Hortons’ coffee a year,” response to the $1.1 billion cost of the gas plant scandal. Beyond that Energy Minister Chiarelli also linked in to the WWF (World Wildlife Fund)**** when he and other Ontario Liberal Ministers in early 2014 joined WWF to celebrate “National Sweater Day”! The message conveyed was that Ontarians could fight climate change by Putting on a sweater and turning down the thermostat. If every Canadian turned down their thermostat in the winter we could save 2.2 megatonnes of carbon dioxide per year”.

Two years later, after Dianne Saxe was appointed Ontario’s Environmental Commissioner by the Wynne government, she issued her first report to the Ontario Legislature. In it is this statement: “the energy required to heat an existing home can be reduced many different ways (see Figure 1.1), including by:  reducing the target temperature and putting on a sweater”.

What we are liable to see in a few years, should the Justin Trudeau Liberals win a second term is a lot more about sweaters. (It’s already out there: simply Google “Justin Trudeau+sweaters”! The search will get 126,000 hits.)

Maybe Canadian households receiving the rebate in 2019 should resolve now to use the money to immediately purchase one of the many “Trudeau” variety of sweaters available in the marketplace.

PARKER GALLANT

*Manitoba, New Brunswick, Ontario and Saskatchewan.

**Larger companies will be taxed at a lower rate of 80/90% escalating to 100% over time.

***Direct taxes apply to tax on fuel for home heating and for transportation.

****Gerald Butts, senior political advisor to the PM was the CEO of WWF from 2008 to 2012

 

The good old days of electricity prices in Ontario

… when supply and demand meant something, and electricity costs weren’t skewed by overpriced FIT contracts and “first-to-the-grid” rights

October 21, 2018

The good old days… just 11 years ago

My friend and energy analyst Scott Luft posted some interesting charts on his twitter account about generation on October 16, 2018, noting the wind was blowing and also that we used very little fossil fuel for power generation — the gas plants were basically all idling!

As is often the case in our fall and spring months, Ontario’s demand for power was low and IWTs (industrial wind turbines) were spinning. In fact the TX (transmission-connected) IWT delivered about 44,850 MWh and had another 26,760 MWh curtailed.  The corporate wind power operators were paid for potentially operating at 66% of their capacity — well above their annual average of 29 or 30%.  The cost of the generation they delivered, along with the curtailed (wasted) generation, put $9,265,000 into the pockets of the developers and all but approximately $84,000 found its way into the GA (Global Adjustment) account, as did the cost of hydro spills and those idling gas plants.

On a fall day when Ontario demand was only 343,680 MWh, as noted by IESO in their “Daily Market Summary”, we had net exports (exports less imports) of just under 50,000 MWh for which we received the market price (HOEP) of $1.88/MWH.  Those exports returned about $94,000 for generation that cost Ontario ratepayers north of $5.6 million.  As IESO reported, the total value of our consumption and exported electricity had a market value (HOEP) of only $749,000, but a cost of about $45 million.

Nostalgia about the good old days took me back to 2007 when the Global Adjustment Mechanism* was first introduced, so I looked at the IESO’s “Daily Market Summary” of October 16, 2007 to see what that day’s HOEP was.  On that day there were few wind and solar “renewables” in place and Ontario demand was higher at 393,000 MWh.  The HOEP for the day was $54.47/MWh or 5.5 cents per kWh. That is slightly higher than what IESO said the cost of electricity was in 2007 in the year-end report when they noted “The average weighted electricity price in 2007 was 5.05 cents per kilowatt hour (kWh)”.

The good old days of supply and demand

Compare that to the IESO Monthly Market Report for August 2018 which came in at $113.32 (HOEP + GA) or 11.32 cents/kWh — that’s 124% higher than 2007 just 11 years later! Put another way, before we added intermittent and unreliable wind and solar in large amounts to our generation sources, the market operated in a way that properly reflected supply and demand economics!

All this serves to demonstrate how intermittent renewable energy sources in the form of wind turbines and solar panels which have been granted guaranteed prices under FIT (Feed-in-Tariff) prices and “first to the grid”** rights, can distort Ontario’s electricity market.

A cost/benefit study, recommended by two Auditors General in the past, might have proved useful.

It is time for the incumbent government to cancel the acquisition of any more wind or solar power generation that have not commenced construction or are fighting actions before the ERT or the courts.

PARKER GALLANT

*The GA was originally called the “Provincial Benefit” but the name changed when the ruling Ontario Liberal Party introduced the “Ontario Clean Energy Benefit” reducing hydro bills by 10%.

**Wind and solar generation ranks at the same level as non-dispatchable nuclear power so when generated must be accepted or if not needed due to low demand will still be paid.

 

Report of power shortage in Ontario a Chicken Little story

October 16, 2018

IESO says the sky isn’t really falling. So why does the Globe and Mail say it is?

Reading the lead article in today’s Globe and Mail business section of October 16, 2018 headlined “Ontario faces electricity shortfall within five years” one would think the sky is falling.  The article references an IESO report which the Globe reporter suggests “In its forecast IESO concluded the projected summer peak shortfall will be about 1,400 megawatts in 2023 and will grow to 3,500 megawatts later in the decade”.

Wow!

But, spend some time reviewing the 130-page IESO document 2018 Technical Planning Conference and you will discover under the heading “Energy adequacy outlook-key observations” this statement from the IESO.

“Absent continued availability of existing resources post contract expiration, Ontario is expected to remain energy adequate until the late 2020s. Energy production shortfalls would begin to emerge in the late 2020s.”

The forecast goes on: “However, with continued availability of existing resources post-contract expiration, Ontario is expected to remain energy adequate throughout the planning outlook.”*

That means the IESO forecast, without existing expiring contracted generation, is that Ontario is “energy adequate” until the late 2020s and with continued availability until 2035!

Why the dire headline?

The IESO forecast of “Higher Demand” for Ontario starts in 2019 at about 143 TWh increasing to 163 TWh by 2035. The “Lower Demand” scenario starts at about 139 TWh in 2019 and drops to 134 TWh in 2035. To put that in context, total Ontario demand in 2017 was 136.55 TWh and generation 150.7 TWh.

On the generation side, IESO are forecasting “Energy adequacy outlook” (including exports) at 161 TWh dipping slightly after the Pickering nuclear closings and increasing to about 169 TWh in 2035. If the current generation capacity and “continued availability of existing resources” is to remain adequate and generate that output we appear to be in a comfortable position. The forecast clearly contains the caveat that shortages will occur in circumstances “Without continued availability of existing resources post contract expiry.”

What that means: any shortfalls will be occasional in nature and occur during a few peak hours. It appears IESO have plans to cover off those forecasted rare shortfalls via the Industrial Conservation Initiative (ICI) etc., as they note “The current impact of ICI is estimated to be 1,400 MW.”

How and why the Globe’s energy reporter headline suggests the sky is falling is upsetting; the latter part of his article articulates some of the factual information outlined above, yet the headline paints a dire picture.

Perhaps scary headlines sell more newspapers?

PARKER GALLANT

*The outlook period in the forecast extends to 2035.

Calculating the costs of Ontario’s electricity: which sources add the most to our bills?

More transparency in the Ontario Energy Ministry  would reveal important facts, sooner 

The Ontario Energy Board (OEB) took more than nine months to compile and release what they label Ontario’s System-Wide Electricity Supply Mix: 2017 Data, a one-page document identifying the Electricity sources and the “Electricity Mix.”  The data includes both TX (transmission-delivered electricity) and DX (distributor-delivered electricity), but only in percentage terms. In order to determine the amount of electricity actually generated by the “Supply Mix” one must go through a mathematical exercise.

Lagging transparency

If one wonders why it takes nine months and why the OEB won’t supply the amount of electricity delivered by each of the “Electricity sources” you wouldn’t be alone.  Why have we spent billions on “smart meters” and the “smart grid” (developed by IESO) and the data can’t be provided within, say, the first Quarter of the following year?  That question should be raised by our elected politicians as the ratepayers of the province would like to know that all those billions weren’t wasted.

Digging deeper

Going though the math exercise isn’t unduly onerous; if one uses nuclear as the base (generating 60.1%) and the IESO “2017 Electricity Data” the information shows nuclear generated and delivered 90.6 TWh (terawatt hours), so the other percentages can be used to calculate the actual electricity delivered.  As all of nuclear generation is grid-connected, the total electricity generated (DX + TX) for 2017 was 150.7 TWh.  From that it is easy to determine solar with 2.2% generated 3.3 TWh, wind 10.85 TWh, hydro 38.6 TWh, biomass .6 TWh, natural gas 6.0 TWh and other .45 TWh. Add those figures to nuclear generation of 90.6 TWh and it comes to 150.7 TWh

The next step is determining the costs of those generation sources so we ratepayers can judge if they are giving us value for money. That is easier said than done; however, there are enough clues and information available to give us some reason to believe we will come close to disclosing costs.

Let’s start with the HOEP average for 2017 which was $15.81/MWh (megawatt hour) or $15.81 million per TWh meaning the 150.7 TWh of generation represents a cost of $2,282.6 million. The GA (Global Adjustment) inclusive of Class A and B for 2017 total was $11,851 million making total generation costs $14.233 billion for the 150.7 TWh.   Other costs such as transmission and wholesale market service charges add another $1.8 billion to total costs.  Adding the latter brings total cost to $16.033 billion.

If one than examines total Ontario demand for 2017, it would be the 132.1 TWh that IESO claim in their year-end report plus generation within the DX sector of 4.45 TWh making Ontario demand 136.55 TWh.

Finally, If one estimates the revenue generated from “net exports,”* reported as 12.471 TWh at the HOEP value of $15.81 million per TWh, the net revenue generated was $197 million reducing total electricity costs to $15.826 billion.

Putting total Ontario demand (136.55 TWh) in context, nuclear generation of 90.6 TWH and hydro’s 38.6 TWh together provided 94.6% (129.2 TWh). In 2017 OPG was forced to spill 6 TWh and Bruce Nuclear steamed off 1 TWh meaning those two generation sources could have supplied almost 100% (99.7%) of Ontario’s total demand.  Gas generation (10,548 MW capacity) could have easily supplied the balance including peak periods as they operated at only 6.5% of capacity.

So, what did wind and solar cost? 

Wind generated 10.85 TWh so at $135/MWh cost $1.465.000,000 + curtailment of 3.3 TWh at $120/MWh, added $396 million, making the total cost from wind generation $1,861,000,000. Solar generated 3.3 TWh so at an average of $448/MWh would add costs of $1,478,400,000

The two together — without including spilled hydro or steamed-off nuclear or gas back-up — totalled $3.339 billion.

The math calculation to get the actual cost of 2017 Ontario consumption therefore is simply dividing total electricity costs of $15.826 billion by 136.55 TWh, giving a per kWh cost of 11.6 cents kWh!

Without the total costs of wind and solar of $3.339 billion the costs of electricity consumed by Ontario electricity customers would have been $12.487 billion or 9.14 cents a kWh. That would have been 2.5 cents a kWh less than we experienced with wind and solar as generation sources.

The additional costs of wind and solar in 2017 added approximately $220.00 per average household to their electricity bills. Should wind and solar contribute similarly over the next 20 years the costs to Ontario ratepayers will be in excess of $66 billion.

The time has come to demand more transparency and to re-evaluate the details in long-term wind and solar contracts.

PARKER GALLANT

PS: Scott Luft has created pie charts that highlight much of what is contained in the foregoing article and they can be found here: https://twitter.com/ScottLuft/status/1050045294287745024/photo/1?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw%7Ctwcamp%5Eembeddedtimeline%7Ctwterm%5Eprofile%3AScottLuft&ref_url=http%3A%2F%2Fcoldair.luftonline.net%2F

*exports less imports

 

Wind power in panic mode

Canadian wind power lobbyist CanWEA makes claims that don’t stand up to scrutiny. Boasting that wind power is “low cost” has nothing to do with what Ontario electricity customers pay…

CanWEA’s Robert Hornung (L) with then Ontario Energy minister Bob Chiarelli and a power exec during the boom times. The truth has now come to town.

October 8, 2018

The same day (September 20, 2018) the Government of Ontario announced the introduction of legislation to repeal the “Green Energy Act”, Robert Hornung, President of CanWEA (Canadian Wind Energy Association) issued a press release claiming the Government of Ontario has made inaccurate statements and misleading characterizations about the wind energy industry in the province.”

Needless to say, the Government’s announcement received wide media attention whereas the CanWEA press release received virtually none. The lack of attention to the CanWEA press release should be perceived as a strong signal mainstream media has become educated on the devasting effect of industrial wind developments in Ontario and the many erroneous claims made by CanWEA over the years.

What else did CanWEA claim in that press release?

Claim # 1

Wind energy is not the reason for high electricity bills or a significant electricity supply surplus in Ontario.

This claim is partly right: solar panels and generation from that source also helped to drive up costs, but a quick look at wind power generation for just 2017 will show what wind has done. In 2017, grid-connected industrial wind turbines generated 9.2 TWh (terawatt hours) and had 3.3 TWh of potential generation curtailed (not added to the grid).   Ontario’s ratepayers picked up the bill for both and that alone added at least $1.540 billion to electricity bills. As is the case for wind power generation 65% of the time, its generation was out of sync with demand due to its intermittent nature. Added to that cost, we should also include both the spilling of hydro (6 TWh) and steamed-off nuclear (1 TWh) which together added another $350 million to ratepayer costs. The foregoing alone raises the per kWh cost of IWT generation to 20.3 cents. Include gas plant generation of 5.9 TWh (backing up IWT) and you can add another $450 million resulting in a cost of over 25 cents/kWh! This is the “reason for high electricity bills”!

Claim # 2

In reality, wind energy projects are making significant contributions to Ontario’s economy across the province and are providing long-term, stable pricing for Ontario ratepayers. They are providing sustained revenue, as well as benefits agreements and green jobs that are helping rural and Indigenous communities thrive”.

Examining this claim highlights actual contributions of renewable energy.

The Concerned Manufacturers of Ontario is described by the CBC in March 2017 as “A group that represents hundreds of small to medium sized manufacturers across the province is urging the Ontario government to lower hydro fees for industrial users, or face the prospect of some factories packing up and moving to other jurisdictions where electricity is cheaper.”

The Canadian Federation of Independent Business with 42,000 members in Ontario was featured in a Globe and Mail article from December 2016 which contained a few member stories. Here’s one: “Tor Krueger has big plans for Udder Way Artisan Cheese Co., which sells handmade goat cheese in Stoney Creek, Ont. But crushing hydro bills are hurting the artisan cheese maker’s plans to modernize his facility so he can get federal certification and sell his cheeses across the country.” Mr. Kruger went on to note, “After payroll, hydro is consistently one of my top three operating expenses”.

Another association Canadian Manufacturers and Exporters sent a message to Premier Wynne in March 2017 that stated: “We need to reduce the barriers that are holding us back, particularly high electricity prices and the costs associated with cap & trade.”

The Ontario chamber of Commence in a Globe and Mail article in July 2015 had similar comments noting “This week, the Ontario Chamber of Commerce released a survey that suggested as many as one in 20 business are worried about their survival because of high electricity costs.”

Now, if one accepts the fact that the above mentioned four associations represent the vast majority of businesses in Ontario, it seems obvious the cost of electricity has caused job losses in the province. That observation clearly flies in the face of the claim by CanWEA’s President who stated “wind energy projects are making significant contributions to Ontario’s economy across the province and are providing long-term, stable pricing for Ontario ratepayers.” In 2017 nuclear and hydro generated over 97% of grid-connected Ontario demand at prices of less than 7 cents/kWh for nuclear and 5 cents for hydro. So, shouldn’t CanWEA realize the remaining 3% came from all of the other generating sources including wind at costs as noted above under “Claim # 1”!

Claim # 3

As the lowest cost source of electricity available in Canada today, wind energy is the best choice for new electricity generation when it is needed in the future and can help the Ontario Government meet its objective of an affordable and reliable electricity system that benefits Ontarians.”

Mr. Hornung’s claim that wind energy is the “lowest cost source of electricity” doesn’t specify what he is referring to! One should suspect the reference is to either the LOCE (levelized cost of electricity)* or the cost of fuel (wind is free) but in either case his claim has nothing to do with what Ontario ratepayers pay for the intermittent and unreliable nature of the actual wind power generation. That annually averages only 29/30% of its capacity and is out of sync with actual demand 65% of the time.

Claim # 4

“… the report provides no consideration for the value returned by the province’s strategic investment in renewable energy, most notably its role in eliminating smog days”

That claim from a CanWEA press release just over a week later (October 4, 2018) had Mr. Hornung responding to a report released by the Fraser Institute which suggested the Doug Ford-led government should cancel contracts because “According to our study, cancelling the subsidized contracts would reduce the GA charge by almost 40 per cent, thereby reducing residential electricity prices by, again, roughly 24 per cent.”                                                                                     

CanWEA’s response reiterated much of what they claimed in their earlier press release including the suggestion cancelling the contracts would undermine “investor confidence” and the one above noted as “Claim # 4”.

What is interesting about this latter claim is that the Fraser Institute back in January 2017 in another report stated: “The Ontario Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change undertook a special analysis of the role of U.S. emissions in Ontario air quality in 2005, which showed that a majority of O3 (ground level ozone) and PM2.5 (particulate matter) was due to U.S.-based emissions and would not be reduced by cutting emissions in Ontario.”

As the backlash over the cost of renewable energy, along with its other failings, is finally being discovered by politicians around the world and now includes Ontario, it is obvious CanWEA’s concern is that it will affect the targeted provinces of Saskatchewan and Alberta where they have signaled they want more wind power generation. The revelations emanating from Ontario may well impact those current deliberations and slow or stop the IWT march affecting CanWEA’s members!

One can almost see the tears in Robert Hornung’s eyes!

PARKER GALLANT

 

*Levelized cost of electricity (LCOE) is often cited as a convenient summary measure of the overall competiveness of different generating technologies. It represents the per-megawatt hour cost (in discounted real dollars) of building and operating a generating plant over an assumed financial life and duty cycle. 4 Key inputs to calculating LCOE include capital costs, fuel costs, fixed and variable operations and maintenance (O&M) costs, financing costs, and an assumed utilization rate for each plant type.”