Ontarians should be thankful Sunday March 12, 2023, was both a weekend day and also kind of an early spring day which contributed to a relatively low electricity demand day. Ontario’s peak demand came at Hour 19 (hour ending at 7 PM) and was only 17,614 MW. While the below screenshot of IESO data shows (at the top) the output of all electricity sources at 8 PM the coloured graph ends at Hour 20 and it shows the peak hour occurred at Hour 19 and at that hour all those IWT (industrial wind turbines) generated was a miserly 244MW or 5% of their capacity and 1.4% of peak demand.
Now squint at the coloured graph above and focus on the green, yellow and red lines at the top which are respectively IWT, solar and biomass generation to recognize why they can’t ever hope to replace flexible natural gas (dark blue), hydro (light blue) or nuclear generation (orange).
Over the full 24 hours of the day total wind generated was 7,215 MW which represented 6.13% of their capacity and at their low point at Hour 15 they only managed to generate 163 MW (3.3% of their capacity). At Hour 1 (ending at 1 AM) they hit their high for the day generating 484 MW (9.9% of their capacity).
Ontario’s natural gas plants stepped up to meet our needs yesterday generating 43,653 MW or six (6) times what those IWT generated. What the foregoing makes obvious is that Ontario would need another 29,400 MW of IWT capacity to replace what our gas plants generated in addition to the 4,900 MW of existing grid connected capacity. Adding that capacity to the grid would also increase the need to upgrade the transmission system and both of those additions would drive up the cost of energy further.
As yet another addition to the foregoing Ontario would need a minimum of approximately 7,500 MW of BESS (battery energy storage systems) with the capabilities to deliver stored power to replace what those gas plants generated. That 7,500 MW of battery storage would need to store their power in the days before the wind disappeared and it wouldn’t happen if the wind wasn’t blowing.
Blackouts would be the alternative to the above.
Now try to imagine how much more IWT generation coupled with BESS units we would need on a hot summer day when demand peaks at over 22,000 MW!
OPG recently announced they are buying GM Canada’s former head office building in Oshawa which GM indicated has been virtually empty since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic. OPG states the building will be refurbished before they move from 700 University Ave., Toronto late in 2024. Back on November 10, 2022, OPG released their 3rd Quarter results and they were quite favourable but not so much for ratepayers as revenue was up year over year for the nine months by $585 million (11.3%) despite generation only increasing by 2.4 TWh (4%). Net income increased by $199 million or 16% so more than double the inflation rate.
Hydro One recently released their year-end results and their revenue, net of purchased power (up by only 827 GWh or 2.7%), increased by $410 million (up 11.2%). Net profit was up by $91 million or 9.2% which also was 46% higher than Canada’s inflation rate of 6.3% for the year.
Despite the foregoing with OPG and Hydro One reporting results surpassing our inflation rate it is worth noting, the Ontario Energy Board’s “Vision” reputedly still is: “To be a trusted regulator who is recognized for enabling Ontario’s growing economy and improving the quality of life for the people of this province who deserve safe, reliable andaffordable energy.“
Melancthon Wind Contract Extended
For some unknown reason Ontario’s Minister of Energy issued a directive dated January 27,2022 to IESO instructing them to renew expiring contracts and IESO did; under the “Medium-Term Request for Proposals“ meaning the contract holder; TransAlta Renewables Inc were granted an extension to 2031. That particular IWT (industrial wind turbines) project has “a long and controversial history, due to hundreds of complaints of noise pollution from residents, so severe that some people abandoned their homes” and it was further stated: “Our own findings from documents received under Freedom of Information is that the Melancthon power project was number one in Ontario for noise complaints related to the turbines and a transformer.“ The foregoing happened despite the promise by the existing Minister to cancel IWT projects before his party gained power!
Joe Oliver retiring as IESO Chair
It was with acute disappointment reading recently former Federal Minister of Finance, Joe Oliver was retiring as Chair of IESO’s Board of Directors as he was only appointed in March 2019! Mr. Oliver has certainly come across as a climate change skeptic recently having penned an article for the Financial Post wherein, he stated: “To justify enormous expenditures and punishing taxes Canadians are endlessly bombarded with apocalyptic climate scaremongering whose main effect is to terrify children and convince the credulous. Even though Canada cannot make a measurable difference to the global climate, the Liberals doggedly push a net-zero agenda that will cost $2 trillion by 2050.“ He reemphasized that point in another article in the FP in early February stating “Canadians are awakening to the terrible harm the government’s destructive climate initiatives inflict on their livelihoods and freedom, without achieving anything meaningful for the environment.“
Based on the very short press release from IESO should we suspect the Ford Government was not happy with what he said and perhaps asked him to retire as they are attempting to stay on the good side of PM Trudeau and his minions pushing the “Just Transition” agenda? We taxpayers should hope not but we should be suspicious!
Prince Edward Island
Back in late 2021 the PEI government announced they would provide free heat pumps for any island household with income of $35K or less and since then they have raised the household income level to $55K but its not working! Their reasoning was because electricity and oil costs (the two main sources of heating households in the province) were very high they would pay to have the pumps installed as PEI seeks to reach “net-zero energy consumption” by 2030! In a province with only 59,000 households, thousands of them indicate they have been waiting for the installations for a long time so the province has now increased the household income to $75K. It certainly appears their provincial politicians are working hard to increase the backlog. It’s becoming harder and harder to find any politicians in Canada or elsewhere that exhibit even a little common sense!
Down Under to Australia
Back in early 2019 the government of NSW (New South Wales) granted approval for a 2,000 MW proposed pumped storage facility at a then estimated cost of US$3.62 billion with commissioning expected in 2024. The approval was granted as the province sought to shut down their coal plants and move to zero emissions and the pumped storage capacity would reputedly be capable of generating 2,000 MW per hour for 175 hours. Sounds like a dream by the politicians in NSW and recent events have perhaps, highlighted their dreams have been shattered! Apparently, the initial costs have ballooned (some estimates are as high as US$9 billion) and the commissioning date in now anticipated to be December 2027 or even later. To make matters worse, recent news was the 2,400-ton boring machine has become stuck under a cave-in so has ground to a halt! Sure looks to be yet another group of politicians and bureaucrats with a shortage of common sense! It appears to be Australia’s version of Muskrat Falls!
Oil City battery energy storage project ‘dead in the water’: mayor
The captioned article in the Sarnia Observer a week ago could be construed as an “ironic” happening as it occurred near to where oil was first discovered in North America back in 1858 when James Miller Williams was drilling for water. The location of the well at that time was called Black Creek but was subsequently changed to Oil Springs and is located about 30 kms southeast of Sarnia, Ontario. Renewable Energy Systems Canada (they claim they are the world’s largest renewable energy company) asked for support from the local council as a requirement to seek a blessing from IESO for a proposed BESS (battery energy storage system) but the mayor and council declined to support them. Perhaps nostalgia played a role as those BESS units are seen as support for the unreliable and intermittent nature of renewable energy from wind and solar which our politicians seem to believe can replace fossil fuels. Nice to see some politicians have basic common-sense!
Over to Germany
It is worthwhile to visit a website titled “NoTricksZone” and a recent visit to the site had a short, sad, but true story about Germany’s electricity and gas prices in a revelation by P. Gosselin. The headline read: “My Household Electricity And Gas Prices Rise 87% And 178% Respectively!“ The article went on stating; “my own household had made a contract in 2021 that locked the heating gas and electricity prices for 2 years, our rates had stayed reasonably low. But that contract expires on April 1st, 2023, and last week we got the long-awaited letter announcing the new prices from our gas and electric utility.“ Many are aware Germany, under Angela Merkel, went full bore on what was labelled as “Energiewende“; simply defined as, “the ongoing transition by Germany to a low carbon, environmentally sound, reliable, and affordable energy supply“. As it turns out Energiewende has pretty well failed on all of its objectives due to their push for wind and solar, elimination of their nuclear baseload generation coupled with their shutdown of their variable coal generation plants. They have become the perfect example of what “not to do” but many countries have emulated them and are finding themselves in a similar situation with energy poverty climbing.
An article from October, 2022 stated: “One in four Germans are currently energy impoverished, up from one in six in 2018.“ Those are very dismal results and a reflection on how unconnected from society elected politicians and their bureaucrats have become in their push to achieve the “net-zero” emissions target. In the meantime China, India and many other countries have rejected the call to move in the same direction, so they are lifting many of their citizens out of energy poverty.
The above short stories hopefully highlight the apparent disregard most of our elected politicians have for all but the elites in our democratic countries but it is time to call them out. Join the fight and let them know how they are failing the majority of voters and in the process are causing energy poverty.
There is nothing “just” about the “Just Transition”!
It is apparent no one noticed from Hour 9 to Hour 11 on February 11, 2013 Ontario’s baseload power decreased by 814 MW of capacity as Bruce Power’s G-8 nuclear reactor was tripped off. It’s not clear why it was tripped, but in terms of security to avoid blackouts in the province; that baseload power would generate over 7 TWh (terawatt hours) over a full year or about what 800,000 average Ontario households consume.
The above should be of concern to the Ontario Ministry of Energy but so far, they haven’t noticed! The Ministry are instead excited about the recent announcement triggered by a November 24, 2022, Ministerial directive from Ontario’s Minister of Energy, Todd Smith to IESO. That directive instructed them to complete negotiations with the proponents of the Oneida Energy Storage Project, a 250 MW BESS (battery energy storage system).
Needless to say when the announcement was finally made the Ontario Conservative Party were excited and Global News reported in a February 10, 2023 article, Premier Ford stating; “It’s equivalent to taking 643,000 cars off the road,”. The article went on to note the project “is being supported by the Canada Infrastructure Bank which has earmarked some $170 million to the initiative.“ The CIB’s press release contained slightly different information than the Ford quote claiming: “The Oneida Energy storage project is expected to reduce emissions by between 2.2 to 4.1 million tonnes, equivalent to taking up to 40,000 cars off the road.“
Hmm, the foregoing suggests someone’s math is askew as taking 643,000 cars off the road is a multiple of 16 times what the CIB said was 40,000 cars! Who should we taxpayers believe?
The CIB’s press release had numerous quotes in it from both federal and provincial government politicians as well as the partners; Northland Power Inc., NRStor, Aecon*NB: and Six Nations of the Grand River Development Corporation (SNGRDC).
As an example of the excitement displayed, here is what Jonathan Wilkinson, Canada’s Minister of Natural Resources had to say: “The Government of Canada is pleased to collaborate with partners to unlock the energy storage solutions needed to store clean energy while meeting increasing electricity demands,” and he went on further stating: “The Oneida Energy storage project represents a significant Indigenous-led development that will create good jobs for Canadians while reducing emissions. The Government of Canada is pleased to invest $50 million in building this project with Indigenous partners — resulting in one of the world’s largest battery storage projects.“
Premier Ford said: “I’m thrilled to see so many great partners come together to build this world-class project that will provide affordable, clean energy for generations to come,”.
The other quote, in my mind, that stood out, was from Mike Crawley of Northland Power Inc. as Crawley was reputedly the former Ontario President of the Liberal Party and following that served as President of the Liberal Party of Canada.
Crawley’s quote was: “The Oneida Energy Storage Project is a milestone for Ontario’s burgeoning energy storage sector. It will make the province’s electricity grid more efficient, stable and reliable. For Northland, this project marks our first storage investment. We recognize the Government of Ontario and the Government of Canada for their continued support of energy storage initiatives. Finally, we look forward to continuing to work in partnership with NRStor and the Six Nations of the Grand River Development Corporation, without whom this project would not have been possible.”
We should suspect Crawley’s attribution to “Ontario’s burgeoning energy storage sector” is a subtle call for support (financial and regulatory) from the CIB and the Ford government to grant approval for a storage project Northland Power have been chasing for over a decade. That project is the Marmora pumped storage project utilizing the abandoned iron mine in Marmora, Ontario. Crawley has somehow managed to entice OPG into joining Northland in their pursuit of that contract perhaps believing it will convince Ontario’s Energy Minister, he must give it his blessing.
Mike Crawley was called out by Bob Runciman, a Conservative MPP, who sat as a member of Ontario’s parliament for 29 years and in 2004 was opposition leader. The Hansard report indicates in Runciman’s examination of the then Minister of Energy, Dwight Duncan in 2004, he raised “conflict issues” about Crawley and his position as President of AIM PowerGen while being the Ontario President of the Liberal Party of Canada. The issue was in respect to a $475 million contract awarded to Erie Shores Wind Farm owned by AIM PowerGen. According to the Hansard records Crawley was also President of the Canadian Wind Energy Association at the time. Needless to say nothing came of the issue raised by MPP Runciman when he asked Duncan to “put the contract on hold” pending an investigation by the Ontario Integrity Commission. Duncan refused! Crawley still maintains influence with the Liberal Party and his influence seems to now also involve the Ontario Conservative Party.
Mr. Crawley is registered as a Lobbyist with the Federal government and in June of last year he met with Jonathan Wilkinson who stated the Government of Canada “invested $50 million” in the project. We should wonder if the $50 million investment came about as a result of Crawley’s lobbying efforts?
Looking quickly at the Six Nations of the Grand River Development Corporation (SNGRDC) it is difficult to find complete information related to their “green energy portfolio” other than the claim; “itis capable of producing over 1000MW of clean energy through involvement in 18 solar or wind projects either directly (Equity Interests) or indirectly (Community Benefit Agreements). Their website identifies their portfolio’s capacity as 297 MW of “wind” and 145 MW of “solar”! They recently announced they were upset the Lake Erie Connector Project had been suspended for which the CIB had planned to “invest up to $655 million or up to 40% of the project cost. ITC, a subsidiary of Fortis Inc., and private sector lenders will invest up to $1.05 billion, the balance of the project’s capital cost.“
As if the furore from the proponents along with provincial and federal politicians wasn’t enough the Federal Minister of Finance and Deputy PM, Chrystia Freeland rang out with her rants on twitter about the project and how “it will create good jobs, help build Ontario’s 21st century electricity grid, and make electricity more affordable for Ontario families.”
As Minister of Finance she should recognize handing out $220 million of our (Federal) tax dollars for a project destined to raise the cost of electricity and create a few jobs to occasionally power homes or businesses for a few hours annually is not the panacea she hyperventilates about.
The time has come for all of Canada’s politicians to cease the madness of their “net-zero” targets and recognize how eliminating the 6% to 7% of emissions from the electricity sector will have no impact on Canada’s fossil fuel reduction but will result in the loss of well-paying jobs throughout our economy.
Time for sanity to return to our elected politicians!
*Aecon has been awarded a $141 million Engineering, Procurement and Construction (EPC) contract by Oneida LP.
NB: One of my contacts informed me John Beck CEO and President of Aecon is a big supporter of the WEF where our Finance Minister Freeland also hangs her hat! I went to the WEF website and searched his name and it popped up many times and he sits on one of their “Steering Committees. We should all wonder what in hell is going on!
The numerous eco-warriors in Canada and elsewhere around the world continue their push to end the use of fossil fuels despite the damage now being felt in most European countries. Europe’s climbing energy poverty rate was where 36 million European people in 2020 were unable to keep their homes adequately warm during the winter. We should have no doubt winter 2023 will undoubtedly increase those numbers considerably!
Those eco-warriors are sold on the concept that wind and solar generation coupled with EV (electric vehicles) are the magic formula for full electrification. At the same time as they advocate for full electrification of transportation, they ludicrously reject the need to mine for the materials used in the manufacturing of EV batteries, solar panels and IWT (industrial wind turbines). In the latter case they frequently exhibit their “hypocrisy” as those 300-foot blades evident on most IWT are made from composites that are not recycled such as fibreglass and balsa wood. “Balsa wood’s characteristics as a light and soft, yet highly resistant wood – strong and light at the same time – make it perfect for the manufacture of cladding for cruisers, skis, bridges… and especially for wind turbine propellers.“ It seems ironic the advocates of IWT; ie: those same eco-warriors such as WWF Canada and Greenpeace, are frequently the ones demanding retention of the Amazon rain forests in South America where those balsa trees grow. The WWF declared: “there’s no way we can slow climate change without stopping the destruction of our forests, and the Amazon is our planet’s biggest rainforest.“ Greenpeace Canada went well beyond that sending a petition in October 2020 to the Federal Minister of Foreign Affairs Melanie Joly stating: “prioritize the Amazon rainforest! Canada needs to immediately halt the Canada-Mercosur free trade negotiations and speak up for Amazon protection.”
Many of the IWT in Canada and around the world are reaching their end of life and being retired or refurbished. Disposal of the old blades is having a negative impact as they are not recyclable and are piling up in landfills as the following picture shows and presumably includes balsa wood from the Amazon rainforests.
As noted above much of the balsa wood used in the fabrication of those IWT blades emanates in Amazonian Indigenous communities and makes its way to China, Denmark, etc. Those countries then manufacture those IWT blades that find their way to countries around the world whose politicians have bought the eco-warrior’s objectives to create electricity (unreliable and intermittent) from IWT. At this juncture it is interesting to point out, Sir James Blyth of Scotland was the first to generate electricity from a wind-powered generator back in 1887. Blyth’s invention never really caught on until recently when the eco-warriors started shouting about “global warming” sic “climate change” in recent times.
We should all ask the question of those eco-warriors and our politicians supporting their demands:
How is this saving the world from climate change and how will it achieve your “net-zero” targets when you knowingly ignore the effects those IWT have including the generation of electricity that is both intermittent and unreliable?
The foxes are truly running the henhouse and from all appearances and actions are clearly hypocrites!
Ontario’s Minister of Energy, Todd Smith should think seriously about December 20th and contemplate; if we were without natural gas generation, how would the province have avoided blackouts? What would we need to have in place to provide the 124,792 MWh (what 4.1 million average Ontario households consume daily) our gas plants supplied on that December day?
More wind, more solar? If he picked those two intermittent and unreliable sources, we would need a multiple of at least five times current capacity. Even then, if they only generated five times the 232 MWh, they did at Hour 3, we would have experienced a blackout in the middle of the night during a low demand hour. Natural gas generators at that hour produced 4,003 MWh (26.8% of demand).
Throughout the day grid connected wind generated about 21,000 MWh and solar 547 MWh. At peak demand, Hour 18 ending at 6 PM, wind generation neared its peak for the day generating 1,341 MWh (6.8% of demand) whereas our gas plants generated 6,033 MWh or 30.4% of peak demand. Because demand was relatively high and wind failed to generate less than an average of 900 MW per hour the market price (HOEP) averaged $82.88/MWh over the day so the 39,000 MW we sold to our neighbours in NY, Michigan and Quebec generated a reasonable price compared to days when the wind is blowing hard and the sun is shining.
If Smith said hydro, it would be sensible, however Ontario has pretty well exhausted its hydro sources near population centers so that’s not an option. We would need to open up the northern reaches of the province and spend billions of tax dollars to build roads, transmission systems and the hydro plants themselves to get the power to where its needed. Not feasible for well over a decade!
Nuclear would be a good and logical source, however the only possible new nuclear we might get in the next 10 years is a 300 MW capacity SMR (small modular reactor) now in the planning stage by OPG.
What’s left then for him to contemplate is either hydrogen or storage. The former is still in early test stages and unlikely to be scaled up for a decade or more. Despite the foregoing the push for it by many European countries is on as they view it as the solution to achieving “net-zero”. The big concern about hydrogen is associated with possible leaks as a recent article noted: “Scientists have warned that hydrogen could be a significant “indirect” contributor to the greenhouse effect when it leaks through infrastructure and interacts with methane in the atmosphere.“
One should wonder does Minister Smith have a belief “storage” is the option and if so, how much will be needed? In the near term he seems to have somewhat recognized the fallibility of our electricity system as his Ministerial Directive of October 6, 2022 directs IESO to secure a minimum of 1,500 MW of storage generation and a maximum of 1,500 MW of natural gas generation. On the former he had already directed IESO to negotiate a 250 MW battery storage contract with Oneida on August 27, 2022 despite the need for a cost/benefit study as noted in a earlier article.
Minister Smith had also asked IESO to prepare a plan to allow Ontario’s electricity system to be fully “decarbonized” by 2050 and in their response titled: “The Pathways to Decarbonization” they included 2,507 MW of storage capacity in 2035.
The full costs of that capacity will be in excess of $2.4 billion based on a recent well researched article suggesting battery costs are a minimum of US$700K (CA$950K) per MW of capacity. Battery storage capacity results in about only 80% of it as being available when it’s needed on the grid, but, it can deliver the rated capacity for three hours. That means 2,507 MW of battery storage at a capital cost of $2.4 billion could deliver approximately 6,000 MWh before having to reload.
Now, if we consider the generation provided by Ontario’s natural gas plants on December 20, 2022, one notes we would need twenty-one times more battery storage to generate the almost 125,000 MWh they delivered. The capital cost would be astronomical and amount to about $50 billion. Repaid over the 10-year lifespan of the batteries (including a profit margin of 10%), it would result in adding $5.5 billion of annual costs to ratepayer bills.
What the IESO chart suggests is natural gas capacity coupled with; “New Capacity Online by 2035” in the form of; Demand Response, Solar, Wind and new Nuclear, we will not need additional storage. Let’s hope their forecast is accurate despite the “Disclosure” on Page 2 stating:
“The information, statements and conclusions in this report are subject to risks, uncertainties and other factors that could cause actual results or circumstances to differ materially from the report’s findings. The IESO provides no guarantee, representation, or warranty, express or implied, with respect to any statement or information in this report and disclaims any liability in connection with it.”
The 2035 scenario depicted by IESO also contained the following suggesting they had some faith in part of their report: “New large hydroelectric and nuclear facilities were not selected due to lead times that extended beyond the horizon of this scenario. As firm imports from Québec would require resource development in that province, they proved to be costly and were also not selected. Finally, with 2,500 MW of battery energy-storage systems included in the base supply mix, the value of additional storage diminished, hindering its selection.“
Hmm, kind of makes one wonder if the “Pathways” report is delivering what Minister Smith has in mind?
An article written by Allison Jones of the Canadian Press and dated December 26, 2022 reputedly confirmed Minister Smith’s directive to IESO to obtain the additional 1,500 MW of natural gas generation along with the “2,500 megawatts of clean technology such as energy storage”. The article went on to claim, “Smith said in an interview that it’s the largest active procurement for energy storage in North America.“ Another quote in the article came from Katherine Sparkes, IESO’s director of innovation who apparently said:
“As we look to the future and think about gas phase-out and electrification, one of the great challenges facing all energy systems in North America and around the world is: How do you address the increasing amounts of variable, renewable energy? resources and just make better use of your grid resources,” she said.
“Hybrids, storage-generator pairings, give you the ability to deal with the variability of renewable energy, meaning storing electricity when the sun isn’t shining or the wind not blowing, and then using it when you need it.”
We ratepayers should all be troubled if the foregoing is a quote from IESO’s director of innovation! In that position she should know if the sun isn’t shining, or the wind isn’t blowing there is no energy that can be stored!
On the other hand, if it’s a misquote by the author of the article, its what we have come to expect from the MSM reporters who seem to frequently fail to do any fact checking. The latter is evident in other parts of the article where obtuse comments are made and accepted with one of them suggesting their company will “make power plants obsolete” using EV and another suggesting “the provincial and federal governments need to fund and install bidirectional chargers in order to fully take advantage of electric vehicles.” No indication was in the article as to what sources of energy would be used to power up those EV batteries nor does the author question those making the statements.
It is readily apparent the author of the article failed to either question those interviewed or to seek other views that might challenge their claims. Unfortunately, investigative journalism is no longer within the purview of those associated with the mainstream media.
Natural gas is a fossil fuel that benefits mankind in many ways and the cold December day we Ontario residents recently experienced clearly demonstrated how it is needed until something better comes along. It is self-evident the “something better” is clearly not battery storage.
Let’s turn up the heat on our Ministry of Energy and the many reporters in the media who message us with the propaganda perpetrated by those who want us to freeze in the dark!
According to the eco-warriors using 7,400 acres (0.37%) of the 2 million acres of the Greenbelt land for the creation of “affordable housing” is something that should never be allowed so about 200 of them joined together to sign a letter making their views known. While they have expressed some legitimate concerns with Bill 23 and its negative effects on “conservation authorities” they have failed to recognize the unaffordable nature of housing affecting so many Ontario families. The CBC reported that a request by the leader of the Ontario Green Party has gone to the Government of Ontario’s Integrity Commissioner asking for an investigation as to whether the plan has broken ethics rules. Those 7,400 acres could easily accommodate well over 74,000 homes or more in local municipalities and somewhat contain climbing house prices in the province but that goes against the wishes of those out to save the planet from “climate change” or what used to be referred to by them as “global warming”!
Many of those same eco-warriors back in the days of the McGuinty/Wynne led government(s) pushed for the creation of the Greenbelt. They were rewarded by the allocation of those 2 million acres as protected land even though large portions of it were close to communities where housing needs were growing. At the same time the “charitable” Greenbelt Foundation was created and supplied with Ontario taxpayer dollars which continues to this day.
The Greenbelt Foundation is a registered charity and their March 31, 2021 report indicates 89.4% ($4.079 million) of their gross revenue came from the Province ($3.828 million) and the Federal government ($251K). Only $12K came via receipted charitable donations despite their spending $479K on advertising and promotion and $1,677K on compensation.
Somewhat related to the foregoing pushback by the eco-warriors saw the Minister of Energy Todd Smith, recently receive a response from IESO (independent electricity system operator) in respect to his prior directive(s) to request a plan on how the province could achieve a full “decarbonization” of the electricity system. The minister had issued those directives even though the current electricity system in Ontario is already slightly over 92% emissions free.
The IESO responded with their December 15, 2022 Pathways to Decarbonization a 39 page report that predicts by 2050 Ontario’s capacity will be 88,000 MW (megawatts) versus what the report claims is now 42,000 MW. We assume the latter includes all DER (distributed energy resources) such as about 2,200 MW of solar, 600 MW of IWT (industrial wind turbines) small hydro, combined heat and power plants, battery storage, electric vehicles, and consumers who reduce electricity use on demand.
The ”Pathways” to get to that 88,000 MW include some interesting turnarounds by the Premier Ford led government who killed the GEA (Green Energy Act) enacted by former Premier McGuinty but now appears determined to make life for Ontarians much worse and more expensive. The plan put forward by IESO will mean by 2050 Ontario will be reputedly powered by the generation sources in the following chart!
IESO’s estimate of the costs are as low as $375 billion to a high of $425 billion including substantial expenditures on transmission systems. The report estimates electricity costs would rise to $200/$215/MWh. It is important to note IESO don’t hypothesize on the individual costs of the additional 68,793 MW by source such as the 15,000 MW of hydrogen or nuclear, but they do suggest the province had better start working soon as timelines for new transmission lines and the additional 17,800 MW of nuclear will be a long-drawn-out process. We should also be pretty sure their estimate on the cost of those 15,000 MW of hydrogen is more like a guess rather then a fact based estimate.
It is also interesting IESO includes an addition of 6,000 MW of solar capacity and 17,600 MW of IWT (industrial wind turbines) capacity as part of the “decarbonization” process as both are intermittent and frequently unreliable. IWT also have the bad habit of causing harm to humans as well as decimating birds and bats. It is likely those new planned IWT will receive considerable pushback by many municipalities throughout the province. The latter is a factor as municipalities now have the power to deny access. One should wonder if the Ford government will legislate; the power to deny access for IWT, is no longer an option for municipalities in their move to decarbonize the electricity sector?
Looking further at the planned addition of IWT and solar throughout the province will also mean the loss of considerable land for both farming and nature as both energy sources require either (or both) land clearing and/or farmland reductions.
Based on estimates of what land will be required for the additional wind and solar generation should make the eco-warriors very upset. Land required per MW of IWT varies from 2 acres/MW to 40 acres/MW of capacity so the 17,600 MW would need 35,200 acres on the low side to as much as 704,000 acres on the high side. The additional 6,000 MW of solar could require as little as 5 acres/MW on the low side or up to 10 acres/MW on the high side meaning as little as 30,000 acres or as much as 60,000 acres. What the foregoing suggests is both the additional IWT and solar could easily be accommodated on the Greenbelt’s 2 million acres.
We should wonder how those 200 eco-warriors, who signed the letter to stop “affordable housing” on the Greenbelt, would feel, if the foregoing is the eventual conclusion as to where those wind turbines and solar panels in IESO’s “decarbonization” plan are destined for?
Wouldn’t that make the Greenbelt even greener with all those carbon free generating sources?
Marc invited me to be on his show today to talk about my latest article on the “disinformation” touted by one of the Toronto Star reporters and while we spoke about that we also chatted about other recent news related to a few other issues. Those included; digital identification, Artic and Antarctic ice and a future that might include things such as climate lockdowns.
You can listen to the podcast here starting at 1:09:40 and ending at 1:25:30.
Recently invited to be a guest on Zoomer Radio, I agreed, and was informed I would be joined by Bryan Purcell, VP of Policy and Programs at The Atmospheric Fund. TAF is a “not-for-profit” company with almost $100 million of “restricted funds” that have been provided by the City of Toronto, the Province of Ontario and the Government of Canada and appears to have 30 employees. They use the revenue generated from the funds ($7.1 million in their 2020 and $1.2 million in 2021 financial reports) and other revenue (minimal) to provide grants described as: “has the potential to generate large-scale carbon reduction in the GTHA“ (Greater Toronto Hamilton Area).
Shortly before the program was to start the Auditor General of Ontario released her annual report so I, and presumably Bryan Purcell, were informed the discussion was cancelled as the host wanted to cover the AG report due to it’s significance in detailing how the AG viewed Premier Ford’s led financial management over the prior year.
The TorStar article was written by Marco Chown Oved*who identified himself as a “Climate Change Reporter” in the article heading! On his LinkedIn profile, he identifies himself as an “Investigative Reporter at Toronto Star”! The TAF representative, Bryan Purcell, also scheduled to be on the radio program, is quoted in the article and on his LinkedIn profile states he is a: “Environmental Professional focused on Climate Change mitigation“ but his qualifications suggest he is stretching the truth.
Below we will examine some of the claims made in the article based on the report prepared by Power Advisory, which we assume TAF paid for with our tax dollars! The report’s author from Power Advisory was Travis Lusney, whose LinkedIn profile discloses he was the Senior Business Analyst at the OPA (Ontario Power Authority). In that former position he states he; “Managed analysis and implementation of procurement policy. Focused on the Feed-In Tariff Program with emphasis on pricing, connections and stakeholder engagement.“ Hmm, one should wonder if Mr. Lusney, was at least partially responsible for the cost of electricity in Ontario jumping by over 100% due to the FIT contracts to wind and solar proponents which paid them as much as 82 cents/kWh for rooftop solar. Perhaps we should take his recent report to TAF with the proverbial “grain of salt”, or should we simply shrug it off based on the “investigative journalism” claims of Marco Chown Oved, the Toronto Star reporter?
Claims from the article:
“Rather than relying on natural-gas-fired generation to meet growing electricity demand, Ontario’s cheapest and most reliable options require new wind and solar,”
It is unbelievable the “investigative journalist” didn’t bother to do a little research work on the foregoing claim as he would quickly discover wind and solar are not the “cheapest and most reliable”. Had the author simply bothered to look at the February 2022 report of the FAO (Finance Accountability Office of Ontario) he would have discovered they have driven up the cost of electricity to the point where taxpayers are forced to absorb a cost of “$38.6 billion (32.7 per cent) to move most of the cost of 33,000 renewable energy contracts with wind, solar and bioenergy generators from all electricity ratepayers to the Province.“ Had he also bothered to just examine a few days of IESO data he may also have discerned wind and solar’s bad habits of generating power when it’s unneeded and failing to deliver power during “peak hours” on cold winter days and hot summer ones. Recent examples of unneeded power generation occurred December 2nd and 3rd when IWT (industrial wind turbines) operated at 76% of their rated capacity whereas on December 7th and 8th they operated at a miserly 8.5% of their rated capacity. In the first instance the IESO were forced to sell off that power for pennies of it’s cost and in the latter case natural gas and hydro ramped up to prevent blackouts such as those that occur in California and elsewhere around the world where wind and solar are a large part of electricity grids.
People, governments and businesses are switching en masse to electricity as a power source for cars, heating and heavy industry in an effort to lower carbon emissions and avoid the worst effects of climate change.
Once again, the Toronto Star’s “investigative reporter” obviously did not do any research, or he would have discovered the “en masse” switch is not happening to any great extent without government grants, and they obviously must be higher or people won’t switch. In the case of EV penetration a very recent article from mid November pointed out EV sales in Canada were low during the first 6 months of 2022 stating: “Based on average new vehicle registrations, the EV total would have to grow from 55,600 to about 480,000 over six months to hit that 60 per cent target.” The 60 per cent target is for 2030 and the 2035 target is 100 per cent. The Federal government also hand out grants for heat pump conversions as well as interest-free loans of $40K but once again reviewing government statistics the conversion rate is not happening. A StatCan report notes heat pumps as a primary heat source have only grown from 3% in 2013 to 5% in 2019 and forced air furnaces have only declined by 1% from 53% in 2013 to 52% in 2019. Funnily enough, electric baseboard heaters over the same time frame fell from 28% to 26%. The actual data easily demonstrates the “en masse” switch the author suggests is a fallacy!
“The report says Ontario needs to start making significant investments in its grid, especially considering the lengthy timelines required to build the transmission, generation and storage required to simultaneously meet demand and reduce emissions.”
Hydro One just received approval from the OEB (Ontario Energy Board) for a rate increase for planned capital spending on their transmission system. The spending appears to represent about $7.5 billion over the next five years. Spending of that amounts suggests the investment is “significant” and a little research by the article’s author would have disclosed that! No investigative integrity is apparent!
“It’s very clear that if we’re going to go to net-zero, renewables are going to be part of the mix,” said Travis Lusney, the report’s author and director of power systems at Power Advisory. “How far you go is dependent on a lot of factors, even outside of the electricity sector.”
Well, it is apparent Lusney has a love affair with renewables as his prior role at the OPA (Ontario Power Authority), created by the McGuinty Government handed him the power to construct the mess of the electricity sector in Ontario that (as noted above) the FAO stated in his February 2022 report will cost taxpayers $38.6 billion.
“The report finds that a 97 per cent non-emitting grid can be achieved by building new transmission lines, solar and wind generation as well as energy storage facilities. This would allow the grid to reduce its dependence on natural gas to a few peak demand days in mid summer.”
It is worth noting the report fails to mention Ontario’s electricity grid is already over 92% “non-emitting” and fails to include a cost/benefit analysis to achieve the additional 5% emissions reduction it seeks. The report in the three scenario’s recommends adding as much as 12,700 MW of wind capacity, 5,500 MW of solar capacity and 3,900 MW of storage capacity. The report goes on to suggest those wind turbines, solar panels and the storage capacity be spread throughout the province. The report then forecasts due to the spreading it would require as much as an $8.4 billion spend on the transmission system in order to get the power to where its needed. In summary the Power Advisory report recommends spending billions of dollars to achieve a 5% reduction in emissions in Ontario’s electricity system. As outlined above it is very unlikely those new facilities coupled with the additional wind, solar and storage capacity and their associated costs would reduce electricity prices! Instead those costs would drive up prices much as they did in the past with a much smaller capacity addition of renewables. Nevertheless, we should be pretty sure Power Advisory would love the foregoing to happen and Travis Lusney would surely rise in the ranks of his employer, Boston Advisory, who would stand to benefit from the money stream generated by assisting applicants seeking contracts from IESO.
“In each scenario, hydro prices will be lower than they would be if the province goes through with its plan to build new gas plants, the report concludes, mostly because gas is expected to get more expensive, a rise that will be exacerbated by the increase in carbon tax. Meanwhile, prices for wind and solar, which are already cheaper than natural gas, are expected to fall.”
First off, one should wonder how each scenario will cause “hydro prices” to be lower but perhaps they were actually suggesting “electricity prices” will be lower? Past and current experience in Ontario due to wind and solar generation have actually caused “hydro spills” meaning OPG are paid to simply spill water over dams without running them through the turbines. Ratepayers, however pick up the costs of those spills and for the past several years their costs have been substantial. The spills by OPG are almost always caused by unneeded wind generation as their contracts give them “first-to-the-grid” rights . On the statement, “prices for wind and solar” are expected to fall” is also far from the truth. As one example an article last month about Vestas, the world’s largest wind turbine manufacturer, stated: “Vestas has raised prices more than 30% in the past year to help stem losses.“ It should also be recognized gas prices would fall if our abundant supplies in Saskatchewan and Alberta had more pipelines available but the Federal government has done everything in its power to prevent that from happening.
As the foregoing once again suggests; the Toronto Star, their reporters, and other MSM companies simply accept what they are told or read and fail to do any research to determine if they are providing facts or fiction. In this case it seems obvious it is the latter and reporter Marco Chown Oved should immediately rewrite his LinkedIn memes as it doesn’t suggest he is a “investigative reporter”!
* Marco Chown Oved’s LinkedIn biography brags about how the CAJ (Canadian Association of Journalists) were so enthralled with an article he wrote about “climate change” they blessed him for writing it. Perhaps they will do so again for this diatribe of BS as the MSM seems to have abandoned publishing the truth and the CAJ has endorsed their abandonment! This is what Marco Chown Oved has on his LinkedIn site: ”Awarded the inaugural Environmental and Climate Change Award from the CAJ for my feature on heat waves in Montreal, a part of the Toronto Star’s Undeniable series on climate change.”
If one read a recent article in the Financial Post one would surmise Canada was on the cusp of becoming a super power in the mining and production of critical minerals needed in the manufacturing of EV batteries. The article’s headline claimed Canada had vaulted into second spot behind only China. No doubt, the claim was made at least partially due to the fact the Provincial government has been making noises about the wonders of the 2007 discovery of the “Ring of Fire”! The initial reports about the discovery indicated minerals available for mining had a value of anywhere from $60 billion to a high of $117 billion and contained a wide variety of what are now considered valuable minerals for manufacturing EV batteries.
Consistent with the foregoing is the billions of dollars being handed out to Ontario auto manufacturers (switching to EV manufacturing), potential battery manufacturers, Quebec bus and battery manufacturers, etc. etc. by federal and provincial governments and even some to the auto worker’s union by Ontario. Our politicians seem to believe handing out tax dollars will somehow eliminate the ICE (internal combustion engine) as they attempt to move the world to the utopia (in their eyes) of full electrification and achieve “net-zero” emissions while Canada becomes an EV manufacturer.
The handouts were in full bloom recently as both Premier Ford and PM Trudeau appeared at the GM plant in Ingersoll where they had each previously handed out $259 million of our tax dollars. They were there to celebrate the conversion of the CAMI plant to manufacture electric vans and the first rollout of a BrightDrop van. Needless to say Ford mentioned the “Ring of Fire” during his short presentation.
The Ring of Fire is it a yes or is it a no?
As noted above there have been many articles about the Ring of Fire since it was first announced some 15 years ago but it’s still not clear if, or when, we will ever hear of an actual mine being opened. An article just over a month ago in the Northern Ontario Business site was headlined: “15 years after Ring of Fire discovery, mining timeline no clearer“. The article went on to describe how field explorations were planned at a site with major nickel minerals along with an environmental assessment, a feasibility study, First Nations consultations, etc. etc. The acting CEO for the Ring of Fire Metals when asked about time frames as to when the nickel mine might open, stated they wanted to do more exploratory work but were awaiting provincial exploration permits. He stated the biggest issue related to knowing when the 200-kilometre north-south road to the Ring of Fire will be built. One issue also mentioned in the article and a key to mining, is the availability of electric generation. The article suggests the province reputedly has “a strong desire to extend the power distribution network to the James Bay region”. We taxpayers should suspect both the road and the power distribution network will cost billions to complete and “save the planet” from climate change (sarcasm intended)!
The Ring of Fire has been touted by our politicians as a major benefit to Ontario as it is said to contain many of the “key minerals” needed to manufacture EV batteries and as a major component in making the “transportation” sector emissions free in line with the wishes of the UNIPCC and ENGO!
As noted a key component to start the mining process is a road network and back in the Spring of this year Premier Ford announced the “Marten Falls and Webequie First Nations announced on April 14 that they will submit a Terms of Reference for the proposed Northern Road Link Environmental Assessment“ committing $1 billion tax dollars. Further details were contained in an earlier February 7, 2022 Provincial overview of the “Ring of Fire”!
Another recent article appearing in the Sault Star suggests the U.S. may even fund development in the Ring of Fire to offset the dominance of China in the production of EV batteries. The U.S. military has reported to have talked to some Canadian mining companies about some critical mining projects related to President Biden’s “commitment to cutting its reliance on China for the metals needed to build defence equipment and expand the electric vehicle (EV) market.“
Based on the foregoing one would assume development of the Ring of Fire is a foregone conclusion that will quickly push forward but we shouldn’t “hold our breath” expecting it will be soon.
Ring of Fire may just be smoking embers for years to come
The Globe and Mail posted an article just days ago with information from a top federal government official stating; “it’s possible no mines will be built in the region, and that there is no guarantee Ottawa will ever come forward with the roughly $1-billion in funding needed for development to proceed.” Jeff Labonté, assistant deputy minister for Natural Resources Canada suggested there is a standoff between the Feds and the Province of Ontario over funding as just one aspect. Labonté went on pointing out other obstacles including lengthy First Nations consultations, various environmental studies that take years etc.
One major incident involves the Neskantaga First Nation who have taken the province to court related to a “lack” of consultation and their continuing “boil-water” advisory which the Trudeau led government promised to fix but hasn’t done yet! An article from November 25, 2021 in Northern Ontario Business noted Chief Christopher Moonias said the following presumably referencing Premier Ford: “I live on the Attawapiskat River where the proposed so-called Ring of Fire is. There has not been any consultation. We will not let them cross our river. What a f—— idiot of him to say these things,”.
Another issue in the Globe article states the Marten First Nations applied for a three-and-a-half-year extension, to early 2029 for the environmental assessment, because of the impact of the pandemic. To top things off the Federal Government have failed to commit any funding to building the necessary road(s) into the Ring of Fire and match the $1 billion in funding, the Province of Ontario has committed.
Those Paying no Taxes Control the Politicians
If one looks back a few years to June 2019 the Aroland First Nation signed an MOU with Noront Resources to advance the planning process of the Ring of Fire and were promised 150,000 shares in the company, subject to the TSX approval. Just eight months later Aroland joined with Wildlife Conservation Society of Canada and the Osgoode Environmental Justice and Sustainability Clinic in a request to the then Federal Minister of the Environment and Climate Change, Jonathan Wilkinson, to seek a “regional impact assessment” which he granted. The assessment still has not been issued so one should assume the Federal government will not approve anything until the assessment is finished!
It is ironic the two parties who joined with Aroland are both substantial charities who receive a large portion of their annual revenue from the Federal and Provincial governments while the Aroland First Nation pay no taxes and are presumably dependent on us taxpayers for their well being.
If the Provincial Government under Premier Ford is intent on moving forward with mining development in the “Ring of Fire”, he should take a leaf out of Premiers Smith of Alberta and Moe of Saskatchewan and fight the Federal government on the issue of governance of the province in respect to our natural resources. Each province’s resources fall under the purview and control of the provinces so if Ford fails to fight that issue the billions of Ontario tax dollars he has handed out for development of the Ring of Fire will be seen as having been totally wasted and we will need to import those minerals from China.
Without the fight, we taxpayers will look back and see only the smoking embers or, as Johnny Cash, might say; “we fell into a burning Ring of Fire and it burned, burned, burned” our tax dollars!
November 28th, 2022, saw Ontario’s peak demand for electricity reach a fairly high level of 19,360 MW at Hour 18 (hour ending at 6 PM) and those IWT with their “first-to-the-grid” rights were almost absent at that hour. As we approach the winter season peak demand will reach those levels frequently and will often be over 20,000 MW and occasionally close to summer peak demand hours.
At the present time with a few nuclear plants undergoing refurbishment IWT represent over 16% of current Ontario grid connected capacity but at Hour 18 they were only able to deliver 1% (200 MW) of peak demand ie; 4% of their capacity! During the early morning hours from 1 AM to 7 AM when demand was as low as 12,990 MW, IWT managed to generate 13,524 MW (39.4% of their capacity) over those seven hours. For the balance of the day (17 hours) they generated a total of 6,862 MW, an average of only 8.2% of their rated capacity with Hour 19 the low point, at 194 MW or 4% of capacity.
For those first seven hours of the day when the IWT were running at 39.4% of their capacity, IESO were selling their surplus power off to our neighbours in Michigan, New York, and Quebec for as low a price as $5.84/MWh. For the 17 hours following however, IESO were buying power from New York and Quebec for prices that reached $86.31/MWh at Hour 18, once again demonstrating the intermittent and unreliable nature of IWT and their cost to us ratepayers.
If the owners of those IWT also had a BESS (battery energy storage system), which several are currently seeking; at Hour 2 they would have been paid $135/MWh for the 2,636 MW of wind generation delivered to the grid. If they then purchased those 2,638 MW at the princely sum of $5.84/MWh, used their BESS to store them, and then resold the stored power (less the 20% loss of battery storage) at the peak hour for $86.31/MWh they would wind up getting about $200/MWh or over twice the cost of clean nuclear and more than three times the price of clean hydro.
We should all be at a loss at trying to discern, exactly how the above would reduce emissions on the dubious path chosen to achieve that net-zero target? Ontario’s electricity sector is already over 92% emissions free!
We should all worry; the foregoing will be allowed here in Ontario based on the Ministry of Energy’s plan to add 1,500 MW of energy storage. As it implies; the 1,500 MW of storage will do nothing more than increase electricity prices in Ontario as they have done in other locales including California, Southern Australia, the UK and many European countries.
More “energy poverty” appears to be what our politicians are seeking!