Quebeckers are Hopefully Grateful for Ontario’s Natural Gas Plants

The past couple of days in Ontario have demonstrated the ups and downs of energy demand both from those of us in Ontario and our neighbours tied to us via the intertie grids.

February 2, 2023

Starting with February 2, 2023, examining IESO data, clearly demonstrates the ups and downs of demand for electricity coupled with the market price variation (HOEP) of overproduction of IWT (industrial wind turbines).  The wind was blowing hard all through the day but with baseload nuclear and hydro providing most of the demand what wasn’t needed was most of the power being generated by IWT.  IESO forecast IWT would generate 94,503 MW over the full day (80.3% of capacity) but it wasn’t needed. Recorded output was 72,115 MW (61.3% of capacity) meaning IESO instructed IWT owners to curtail almost 22,400 MW. As most Ontario ratepayers know the IWT contracts provides them with “first-to-the-grid” rights and also pays for curtailed power at the rate of $120/MWh and $135/MWh for the accepted power. For the full 24 hours on the day the price allocated for accepted and curtailed IWT generation amounted to over $12.4 million in costs to Ontario’s ratepayers/taxpayers and about $172/MWh in costs for the accepted power.

Coupled with the foregoing; as demand was low for most of the day, the market price (HOEP) averaged $3.12/MWh so IESO were busy disposing of unneeded power for pennies of its costs.  Even at the daily peak hour (Hour 19) the HOEP was only $5.18/MWh.  For the full day exported power was 41,911 MW representing 58.1% of the generation IESO accepted from IWT.  If one assumes the unneeded power from IWT represented all of the exported power or caused it, the cost added to the 30,200 MW of IWT generation consumed by Ontario ratepayers is another $7.1 million bringing the cost of the 30,200 MWh, added to the grid, to $11.2 million or $370/MWh (.37cents/kWh).

The happenings on February 2nd once again demonstrate how we Ontarians continue to provide cheap power to our neighbours. We do that by absorbing the costs of those intermittent and unreliable IWT sprinkled throughout the province allowing our neighbours to buy our surplus energy for pennies on the dollar while we eat the costs.

February 3, 2023

February 3, 2023, turned out to be a “Top 10” Ontario peak demand day reaching 21,388 MW and 24,821 MW for the “market peak” at Hour 19! The result was the HOEP for the full day averaged about $41.70/MWh. While that represents a large jump from the prior day those IWT were still costing us a lot more then the aforementioned HOEP average. 

To put the foregoing in context, IESO data in the first 5 hours forecast IWT generation would be 18,795 MW but they only accepted 13,838 MW meaning about 5,150 MW were curtailed and the HOEP over those 5 hours was a piddly 0.62 cents/MWh.  If one, then calculates the HOEP for the remaining 19 hours in the day it becomes $56.60/MWh so, much higher than the first 5 hours! Continuing to look at those 5 hours it becomes apparent we Ontarians absorbed the costs of almost $2.5 million to generate those 13,715 MW. Hopefully our neighbours in NY, Michigan and Quebec appreciate our generosity for those MW which was very close to the IESO accepted IWT generation. 

Looking at the full day, IWT were forecast by IESO to generate 69,174 MW but their output was 62,940 MW meaning we paid for around 6,200 MW of curtailed generation but as noted in the preceding paragraph only about 1,000 MW more were curtailed in the following nineteen hours.  Over the day IESO were busy selling off approximately 87,000 MW to our neighbours in Michigan, NY and Quebec with the latter taking well over a third of them.  The last point should be no surprise as Quebec is a winter peaking province and on February 2nd  Hydro Quebec asked their customers to reduce their electricity consumption due to the anticipated cold starting late Thursday night.

The other interesting happening related to generation on February 3rd was how much gas generation there was over the day. Ontario’s natural gas plants produced 88,172 MW which coincidently was only slightly higher than our total exports.  It is worth pointing out when a MWh of natural gas is generated ratepayers are only paying the raw costs of the natural gas plus a small markup as the capital costs and the approved ROA (return on assets) have been included in the price of electricity since those plants were originally commissioned.  In other words once a gas plant is operating it generates power that is very much cheaper compared to both wind and solar.

Quebec Support

About 60% of households in Quebec heat with electric furnaces or electric baseboards so are dependent on electricity to stay warm during cold winter days. For that reason we should suspect Ontario’s natural gas plants may have played a key role in ensuring those Quebecers were able to avoid a blackout on the recent very cold days we have just experienced.

The other thing Ontario’s natural gas plants may well be doing is allowing Quebec EV owners to recharge their EV batteries. Approximately 10% of all new cars registered in Quebec* are EV possibly due to the large $8,000. grant the province provides to purchase them.  Interestingly, while Hydro Quebec tells households to turn down their heat and avoid using certain appliances during peak hours, they say nothing about when you should or shouldn’t charge your EV.

The generosity of Ontarians is astounding due to the treatment of IWT and the contracts in place providing those “first-to-the-grid” rights. On top of that, if we are subsidizing the sales of our IWT surplus power to other markets where it may be used to charge EV it just doesn’t seem quite right!

Maybe the Ford Government should ask Quebec to provide Ontario with carbon credits to offset the “emissions” of our natural gas plants that keep their people warm in the winter!

*A September 22, 2022 New York Times article stated the following about EV in Quebec: “Quebec has 150,000 electric vehicles on the road, compared with 113,000 in New York State, an indication of how ubiquitous charging can encourage ownership.“

Winds Nebulous Contribution at Peak Hour Demand

Inspired by a friend’s graph on his twitter page led me to examine IESO data for the full day. The post was on Scott Luft’s Cold Air twitter page and the graph was inclusive for the first 18 hours of Ontario’s generation from wind, solar, gas, hydro and nuclear on January 28, 2023.  Wind over the 18 hours continued to shrink in output while gas and hydro generation expanded as Ontario’s demand increased and the graph displayed it so nicely it was hard to ignore

Hour 1 (hour ending at 1 AM) as happens almost every day saw Ontario demand falling which it did so, peak demand was 14,914 MW at that hour and IWT (industrial wind turbines) generation was running at 88.2% of their capacity and generated 4,324 MW or 29% of that hour’s demand. That output was their highest over the remaining 23 hours. At that hour, IESO reported our net-exports (exports minus imports) were 3,176 MW and total exports were 3,686 MW or 85.2% of wind generation. The HOEP (hourly Ontario energy price) market price at that hour was a miserly $4.15/MWh! What that suggests is if the 3,686 MW sold were all IWT generated power they earned $15,297, but the cost to us Ontarians was $497,610.  Our neighbours in Michigan, NY and Quebec must love the fact our energy mix has lots of IWT connected to our grid with the ability to deliver them cheap power.

Hour 18 (hour ending at 6 PM), the last hour on Scott’s graph, IWT generation was 467 MW contributing 2.5% of Ontario’s demand (18,314 MW).  The following hour peak demand for the day was reached at 18,493 MW and IWT generation at that hour fell to 141 MW or 0.8% of demand. Luckily hydro and gas generation were both available to increase their output with hydro generating 5,979 MW (32.3% of peak demand) and natural gas plants 2,576 MW (13.9% of peak demand).  The balance was produced by our nuclear power plants with a tiny amount from biomass.

For the full day IWT were forecast to generate 49,294 MW but IESO reported output at 46,966 MW implying they curtailed about 2,300 MW. Net exports over the full 24 hours were approximately 42,300 MW and at the average HOEP for the day of $20.62/MWh would have generated revenue of $872,000. If we attributed the IWT generation was either the full amount of the exports or the cause of other generation being exported; the net cost of that would have been close to $6 million for the full day.  We should also suspect their high “middle of the night” generation may also have caused hydro water spillage for our must-run hydro plants which would add further to the costs.

Just another day to remind us of the mess caused by the McGuinty/Wynne Ontario led governments and their compliance with the recommendations of Gerald Butts, Trudeau buddy, and former right-hand man until resigning due to pressuring the Attorney General in respect to the SNC-Lavalin scandal.

NB: I misspelled the word graph on the post by using the word “graft”. I guess I was using that word spelling to reflect what the IWT owners have done to our electricity system

Unreliable and Intermittent: well, why pick Industrial Wind Turbines for Full Electrification

Those IWT in Ontario were in full swing showing off their unreliable and intermittent nature on January 24th and the 25th during the first seven (7) hours (from 12 AM to 7 AM) of each day.

On the 24th over the first seven hours those IWT were humming and IESO forecast they would generate 27,980 MWh which would represent 81.6% of their capacity but IESO scaled back what they actually delivered by curtailing about 2,000 MWh as they were obviously not needed in the middle of the night when nuclear and must-run hydro were pretty well supplying all our needs.  The result was our net exports (exports minus imports) over that 7 hours were 22,934 MWh or 88% of what was accepted from those IWT. The average HOEP (hourly Ontario energy price) during the 7 hours was $8.13/MWh so their sale generated $186,453. If we logically assume the bulk of them were either all IWT generated power or caused by their excess generation; the cost to us Ontarians was $3.096 million ($430K per hour) for what they generated plus another $240K for what IESO curtailed.  Their frequent habit of generating unneeded power with us taxpayers/ratepayers forced to pay them for it at ridiculous prices continues!

Now if we traverse to the first 7 hours on the 25th, IESO forecast they would generate 4,526 MWh (13.2% of capacity) but they actually accepted 3,591 MWh meaning approximately 1,000 MWh were curtailed. The good news: for those 7 hours they kind of acted as they would if they were rammable power (similar to our gas plants and hydro). As a result the average HOEP was $32.16 for the net exports of 9,636 MWh we sold to our neighbours meaning the costs for us Ontario taxpayers was only about $500K for the IWT generated power.

To put the above in perspective the 27,980 MWh those IWT were forecast to supply on the 24th is about equal to the daily average consumption of 930,000 Ontario households whereas the 4,526 MWh forecast on the 25th is only enough to power 150,000 households for one day. 

What the foregoing suggests:

1.Without the 11,433 MWh our natural gas generators supplied during those 7 hours on the 25th we may well have experienced a blackout, and

2.Without natural gas supply EV owners would have been unable to charge their batteries meaning they may have been unable to use them to go to work the following day!

Full electrification is a pipedream but based on a letter from Ontario Energy Minister, Todd Smith, our politicians fail to detect the flaws!

Minister Smith’s letter to the OEB dated October 21, 2022, carried the following message:  “The government has a vision for the energy system in which Ontario leverages its clean energy grid to promote electrification and job creation while continually enhancing reliability, resiliency and customer choice.“ 

We should all expect the “vision” will fail in many ways including; electrification, job creation, reliability and resiliency!

PS: No solar generation to report from 1 AM to 7 AM on either day.

IWT Delivered a Meagre 1.1% of Peak Demand on January 18,2023

Those IWT (industrial wind turbines) along with solar panels once again demonstrated their inability to provide Ontarians with reliable power when it’s actually needed!

Peak hour on January 18th came at Hour 18 (hour ending at 6 PM) when Ontario’s peak demand reached 19,250 MW and those 4,900 MW of grid connected IWT managed to only generate 218 MWh or 1.1% of peak demand and 4.4% of their capacity.  At that hour the sun wasn’t shining so no solar generation occurred. Our natural gas plants however, filled in the gap providing 4,038 MWh or 21% of peak demand while the balance came from our nuclear and hydro generation sources.

If one travels back in the day and notes what IWT were doing, they once again demonstrated their nasty trait of generating unneeded power. From Hour 1 to Hour 13, IESO forecast they would generate 29,859 MW (46.8% of their capacity) but accepted only 25,040 MW meaning just over 4,900 MW were presumably curtailed. Due to the “first-to-the-grid” rights and the generous contracts granted the owners of those IWT we taxpayers and ratepayers paid for both the accepted and curtailed power.

Over those same 13 hours our net exports (exports minus imports) were 19,827 MW (79.2% of accepted IWT generation) and the intertie price only averaged $17.47/MWh or 1.7 cents/kWh over those hours. As IESO were selling the surplus power off we were paying $135/MW for the IWT accepted power and $120/MW for what was curtailed.  The foregoing suggests it cost us (ratepayers/taxpayers) about $3.5 million for that unneeded IWT generation over those 13 hours.

While natural gas stepped up when needed in Ontario, we should also understand it’s importance by simply seeing what most of Europe is experiencing without natural gas. Many households are suffering from the lack of reliable electricity generation due to their various government’s endorsement of wind and solar while exiting fossil fuel generation except for a little bit of natural gas. That push coupled with Russia’s curtailment of natural gas sales into Europe has driven up their costs of power and is even creating energy poverty for many “middle class” households!   In some instances rationing of electricity is happening as charging EV and running your heat pumps could cause the electricity grid to collapse.

We Ontarians should take a moment to thank Alberta for providing us with natural gas which in addition to helping keep the lights on and power our businesses also provides heat for over 60% of all our households in the province.

Investigative Reporting by a Toronto Star Journalist is Disinformation

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).

The planned discussion/debate was to be in respect to a Toronto Star article posted November 30, 2022 titled “Ontario’s new gas plants will cause your hydro rates to rise, report says” and presumably for Zoomer’s audience to hear competing views on the content in the article from yours truly.

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.”

Michigan, New York and Quebec Ratepayers Should Thank Ontario Ratepayers and Taxpayers for their Early Christmas Present

As frequently happens during the Spring and Fall those IWT (industrial wind turbines) were spinning, decimating migrating birds and bats, and causing Ontario’s households and businesses to dig into their pockets to pay for their intermittent and unreliable power over the past few days. 

Looking at IESO (Independent Electricity System Operator) Data for December 2nd and 3rd one should be shocked at how much power those IWT generated and why it wasn’t needed.  If one also includes the 2,000 MW, they curtailed, they operated at about 76%* of their capacity burdening the ratepayers and taxpayers of the province.  In total 176,330 MWh were grid accepted by IESO and 55% of that was exported to our neighbours in Michigan, New York, and Quebec over those two days.

To put the IWT generation in perspective their grid accepted generation was approximately what 2.9 million Ontario households (56% of all households) would consume over two days!

If one reviews the electricity sectors of Michigan and New York, you note, for both states; carbon emissions from their electricity generation greatly exceed those of Ontario. That being the case, why are Ontario’s ratepayers burdened with absorbing the costs of those IWT producing unneeded power for export.  Handing New York and Michigan our clean power for pennies of their costs is an expense passed on to all residential households and businesses in Ontario, yet New York and Michigan reap the benefits!

In the case of Quebec their electricity system is relatively emissions free, but they export much of their clean hydro power to New England states under lucrative long-term contracts! Oddly enough Hydro Quebec ask their residential customers to reduce their electricity usage during winter months because 60% of their households heat their homes with electricity. Because Hydro Quebec are committed to supply power to US states under the contract terms they ask their households to use less.

Using less in Ontario when those IWT are spinning works to the benefit of our neighbours and simply raises the costs for Ontarians.  Strange outcomes: but seemingly we are told we must endure the costly pain reputedly (?) due to the contracts the McGuinty/Wynne led government(s) blessed under the Green Energy and Green Economy Act (GEA).

The market price or HOEP (hourly Ontario energy price) for December 2nd averaged only $29.73/MWh (3.0 cents/kWh) over 24 hours and for December 3rd over 24 hours averaged $26.04/MWh (2.6 cents/kWh), yet Ontario ratepayers were burdened with the contracted “first-to-the-grid” payments embedded in those long-term contracts. Those 176,330 MWh plus the 2,000 MWh curtailed collectively cost Ontarians about $23.8 million over the two days before accounting for what we were paid by Michigan, New York, and Quebec for their purchases.

The exported power of 96,989 MWh (net of cost recoveries from the HOEP sale price) came to $10.559 million. The latter represented a cost for each household of over $2.00 for just those two days. 

The cost of the exported power coupled with the IESO grid accepted 79,441 MWh and the 2,000 MWh of curtailed generation, adds an additional $10.960 million ratepayer cost to what IWT owners received for those two days.  What that reflects is the total cost to Ontario ratepayers/taxpayers for the two days of IWT generation was $21.279 million or $266.60 per MWh (26.6 cents/kWh) and a multiple of all other generation sources costs with the exception of solar power.

The time to stop the continued bleeding of Ontario ratepayers should be recognized by the Ford government and regulations enacted by them to end the largesse being passed on to those IWT owners!

*IWT in Ontario and elsewhere consistently operate at an average of 29/30% of capacity annually but fall far short of that average on a consistent basis during Ontario’s peak demand days on the hot summer and cold winter days

Industrial Wind Turbine Owners Love the “Gales of November”

Having looked at IESO data for November 30th, 2022 and several other days in the month, Gordon Lightfoot’s great song; “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald” came to mind as it references the “Gales of November” several times in the lyrics. A “gale” is reputedly when winds reach at least 34 knots or almost 63 kilometres/hour and we have had quite a few days this November when they reached those levels.  Yesterday was no exception as they were over 90 kilometres/hour on several occasions in many parts of the province spinning those IWT and generating unneeded power while extracting ratepayer dollars.  No doubt they probably also killed lots of birds and some bats too who were heading south during the migratory season.

To put context on the preceding paragraph about the “gales of November”; IESO data for the first 12 hours of the day forecast IWT would generate 52,228 MW or 88.8% of their rated capacity but they had them curtail about 6,700 MW which meant they operated at 77.4% of capacity.  Over those 12 hours the market price (HOEP) averaged a miserly $4.12/MWh and IESO were busy selling surplus power to Michigan, New York and Quebec.  Exports over the 12 hours were 22,366 MW or almost 50% of what those IWT delivered to the grid. As a result, the export sales returned only $92,371 of their costs which (including the curtailed power at $120/MW) was just over $3.8 million meaning Ontario ratepayers and taxpayers picked up the missing $3.7 million of the contracted costs over those 12 hours. The costs may have been more, as an example, if OPG was forced to spill water but data doesn’t allow us to determine those additional costs.

For the following 12 hours of the day the HOEP averaged $39.45/MWh and we continued to export power totaling 18,907 MW which amounted to 47.5% of IWT generation (39,755 MW or 78.2% of capacity) during those hours.  If we rightly assume the exported MW were either caused by unneeded IWT generation or were all IWT generated power we ratepayers picked up the difference on what we paid ($135/MWh) for the power and what our neighbours gave us in return.  That would represent an additional cost of $1.8 million meaning ($3.8 million for hours 1 AM to 12 PM + $1.8 Million for hours 1 PM to 12 PM) exports over the full 24 hours resulted in costs of $5.6 million without any benefit to Ontarians.

Putting aside what the cost to ratepayers was for the exported power it is important to note the IWT owners earned a total of $12,317,000 for the day including what they were paid for the curtailed power. The foregoing was a cost of $146.15/MWh to ratepayers and represented revenue to the IWT owners of about $2,514.00 per MW of capacity so a 100 MW wind farm would have generated $251,400 for just one day’s output.  Not too shabby!

Perhaps Michigan and New York didn’t have to fire up their coal plants yesterday, so our contribution helped them reduce their emissions while increasing our inflation rate and adding costs to households and businesses experiencing energy poverty.

It appears our elected politicians are unable to see how they are destroying our economy and bringing harm to all Ontarians; much like the “gales of November” destroyed the Edmund Fitzgerald and their crew!

PS: Grid connected solar only generated 78 MW over the day!

Is Hydrogen the Answer to Reaching Net-zero—Apparently, it’s not!

The following was sent to me by a contact with the “knowledge, skills sets and experience to highlight the fallacies of pushing the green hydrogen agenda” and it’s related to the concepts of my prior articles about “energy storage”. NB: the knowledge he displays in the following are beyond the scope of yours truly!

Text from the contact!

“Hi Parker

Converting “excess” electrical generation by electrolysers (e.g. as built by Hydrogen Optimized in Owen Sound), will permit wind generators (like Enbridge, K2 Wind, etc.) to operate at maximum possible output even when the electrical demand is low (like at night), so that the proponents (like Enbridge at their “Power to Gas” pilot plant in Markham, or Calsun at their proposed plant at the former Bluewater Youth Detention Centre) can make BIG money producing “green” hydrogen, thereby ensuring lots of Government (i.e taxpayer) support.  

The wind generators (like Enbridge) will be able to be paid full price for their power, approximately $135 a MWh or so, instead of the somewhat reduced rate paid for curtailed power. However, they will be able to buy the surplus at about $0 to $10 a MWh, to produce hydrogen, to add to their distribution system, so when electrical demand is high, they can sell it to natural gas generators to produce power to sell at maybe $200 a MWh.  Yes, they certainly win.  

The consumer, well, let’s see. We’ll pay $135 for the bought wind power, sell it for $10, and then buy it again at $200, so the consumer cost is maybe $125 + $ 200 = $325 a MWh.  (About 4 x the price paid for nuclear generated power in Ontario).  The more surplus we create, the more we’ll be able to sell at low price, and buy back at high price, so the cost for us will go up even more.

Winners = Enbridge, Hydrogen Optimized, Carlsun, and the Government policy hacks who want a hydrogen economy.  

Losers = those who live near wind farms (present and future, as there will be more justified), the electrical consumers, and taxpayers.

You can do a google search for Forbes March, 29, 2022 for their article, “Gas Utilities are Promoting Hydrogen, but it could be a dead end for consumers and the climate.”  Admittedly it is a biased article (every writer has their agenda) and in this case the writer’s agenda is that full electrification of the economy is better for the environment than burning natural gas.

Some highlights from the article, and the logical extension from them:

  • 26 projects to add hydrogen to natural gas lines have been proposed across 12 states since 2020  (so, nearly everybody is doing it!).
  • BUT, the blend can only be from 5% to 20% hydrogen in the natural gas lines  (elsewhere I read 7% max) as consumer appliances can only safely burn a blend up to that concentration.
  • It’s not clear what adding hydrogen to the natural gas lines at the Bluewater Detention Centre will mean to % hydrogen in the lines locally, but the amount added will probably not be huge.
  • Burning hydrogen (H2) produces less energy than natural gas (methane, or CH4) so a 20% blend would reduce greenhouse gas emissions only 6% to 7% as you lose energy in electrolysis.
  • price of green hydrogen will raise price of the blended fuel 2 to 4X above standard natural gas (good for Enbridge, bad for the consumer).
  • burning hydrogen produces water vapour (H2O), a more potent green house gas than CO2, but its residency in the atmosphere is less than CO2, so it is considered to have less impact.  Burning methane (CH4) produces CO2, H2O, and nitrous oxide NOX.  The results are complicated by the fact that methane (natural gas) leaks have an effect some 80X higher than CO2, but it has a less residency time in the atmosphere, so the overall result is considered to be only 25X as much.  NOX has a higher impact yet.  Let’s just say the overall impact of burning H2 is not zero, but it’s probably slightly better than burning CH4.

So is it realistic to consider we’ll have much impact on the environment by producing “green hydrogen”?

in 2020 Ontario’s energy usage was: (figures from Canada Energy Regulator – Provincial Energy Profile), converting all data to Peta Joules for equivalency comparison).

  • 1435 Peta Joules from refined petroleum (gasoline and diesel mostly)
  • 935 Peta Joules from natural gas
  • 514 Peta Joules from electricity (58% nuclear, 24% hydro, 9% gas, 8% wind, <1% solar, < 1% biofuel)
  • 37 Peta Joules from biofuels (wood mostly)
  • 127 Peta Joules from other fuels (like coal & coke)

From the above, we see that in 2020, less than 1.5% of Ontario’s total energy consumption came from wind and solar.  It gives a rough idea of the feasibility of moving all of Ontario “off oil and gas” to all “renewable sourced electricity” by 2050.

So, if we could convert 5% of the natural gas in the distribution system to hydrogen, that would be about 47 Peta Joules, or if we assume 15% loss in the conversion, needing 54 Peta Joules of electricity (more than 1/3 of the total electricity produced).  Let’s just say that’s unlikely.

In passing, let’s just say the probability of converting all new vehicles bought in Canada by 2035 to electrical vehicles, or vehicles powered by hydrogen, to convert that 1435 Peta Joules that come from petrochemicals of gas and oil as called for by federal law is … well remote.  Does anyone ever consider these things before passing laws?  Does not appear so!

The Globe and Mail published an interesting article (attached below) Nov. 25, 2022, noting,that while 72% of all new cars in Norway are electric vehicles, oil consumption in the country hasn’t changed.”

That should be enough numbers to set your heads spinning.  Apologies, but every now and then a dose of reality is needed.

Let’s conclude that the governments are all “hell bent” on producing hydrogen and keep telling us it will make a BIG difference in climate change.  Unh- unh,  T’ain’t; gonna happen, but what WILL happen is that costs for consumers will go up drastically, the results will be minimal, and certain investors will become VERY rich.”

Why Wind and Solar Owners Love Energy Storage

Yesterday, November 26th, 2022, demonstrated why Ontario’s numerous contracted wind and solar owners are so excited about the Ontario Minister of Energy’s objective to secure 1,500 MW of storage capacity be it pumped hydro or BESS (battery energy storage systems)!

Both IWT (industrial wind turbines) and solar panels generated lots of unneeded electricity over the day based on IESO daily generation report and it was more than they tell us: the reason why, is there are approximately 600 MW of IWT capacity and 2,200 MW of solar capacity that are DER (distributed energy resources) so those are not reported by IESO as their minimum reported capacity per generation source is 20 MW and DER’s generation is used by local distribution companies to supply power to communities they serve.  They also include other generation sources such as small, hydro, natural gas, and biomass!

The day was atypical of Ontario’s spring and fall demand as reflected by the fact Ontario’s peak demand was a relatively low 16,345 MW and it occurred at Hour 18 (hour ending at 6 PM).  Throughout the day the wind was blowing and resulted in IESO forecasting IWT would generate almost 76,600 MW but they only reported about 70,500 were accepted into the grid suggesting 6,100 MW were curtailed.  The foregoing translates to a cost of $732,000 for curtailed generation and $9,518,000 for the grid accepted generation. This resulted in an average cost per MWh (megawatt hour) of $145.39 for IWT generation.

Over the day the HOEP averaged only $7.84/MWh and for hours 12 to 15 was $0.00/MW.  In those 4 hours we saw our neighbours in Michigan, NY and Quebec receive 7,314 MW at zero cost which is about what 813 average Ontario households would annually consume and what 243,000 households would consume daily. If those MW we gave away were generated by ground mounted solar (contracts pay them $440/MWh) the cost would have been $3.2 million and if IWT generation the cost would be about $987,000!

Now, it is worth reflecting on how IWT and solar owners could further benefit from those low HOEP market prices.

If the BESS or pumped hydro storage units are owned by the same companies who generated that surplus power for which they were paid either $440/MWh or $135/MWh (sold for 0.00/MWh) turned around and simply scooped that power up via a licensed electricity trader and stored them they could simply hold them until the price jumped the next day or two. 

All those “storage owners” would need to do is check the weather forecasts to see if the sun will shine or the wind will be blowing in the next day or two.

As it turns out today (November 27th, 2022) is a perfect example of how they could increase their revenue at the expense of Ontario’s ratepayers.  Today the wind is not blowing much, and the sun isn’t shining throughout the province. At Hour 7 AM today the HOEP jumped to $69.25/MWh and since then, has averaged $62.25/MWh meaning those 7,314 MWh at zero cost if sold back would have generated $455,297.  The foregoing would simply add to the revenue those solar panels and IWT generated yesterday at the expense of Ontario’s ratepayers.

It should be recognized yesterday could have allowed them to generate a lot more revenue via storage as the example above only reflected the four hours of $0.00/MWh whereas the overall average for the full 24 hours was a paltry $7.84/MWh or 0.078 cents/kWh.

It seems obvious the IWT and solar generators recognize the unique ability to reach even deeper into Ontario ratepayers’ pockets but what is not obvious is if our Minister of Energy, Todd Smith and the IESO will prevent them from doing so. 

Based on the directive to obtain “a minimum of 1,500 MW of storage” it appears the politicians and bureaucrats may well allow them to do exactly what those IWT and solar owners are hoping for and planning to do!

Industrial Wind Turbines, Solar Combined with Battery Storage is the Path to Energy Poverty

Upcoming in our locale is a push by a renewable energy company (Capstone Infrastructure) to obtain the blessing of the municipality and its residents to accept a plan to erect a 300 MW battery storage facility.  We residents and municipal politicians will reputedly be told how a lithium-ion Battery Energy Storage System (BESS) will benefit the local community at an upcoming presentation.

Driving this push in Ontario is the Ministry of Energy who has recently directed IESO (independent electricity system operator) to secure 1,500 MW of “stand alone” energy storage! The foregoing is presumably related to the push for more renewable energy (wind, solar and biofuels) as the province falls in line with the full electrification mandates being imposed by the Trudeau led Federal Government and his Minister of the Environment and Climate Change Canada, Steven Guilbeault.

If Ontario’s Minister of Energy, Todd Smith had wanted, he could have easily pushed back as based on IESO’s 2021 Year in Review it shows Ontario’s generation from the electricity system was 92.5% emissions free and included exports of 17.2 TWh exceeding our gas and biofuels generation by 7.1 TWh. In other words, Ontario ratepayers’ total consumption could be considered fossil free had those exports included all of the natural gas and biofuels generated in 2021.

As if to point out the obvious, one should simply look at IESO data for November 21st, as an example and note grid connected IWT (industrial wind turbines) delivered 70,100 MW with another 7,900 MW curtailed meaning they could have averaged about 66% of their capacity throughout the day. Those grid accepted and curtailed MW cost us Ontario ratepayers $10.4 million or around $149/MWh (14.9cents/kWh) and we exported almost 40,000 MW to our neighbours.  Exports in the first 20 hours of the day were at the price of $6.91/MWh as the market price or HOEP (hourly Ontario energy price) was as low as 0.00/MWh and peaked at hour 22 at $59.92/MWh.  What this demonstrates is we basically are giving away our surplus (emission free) generation for mere pennies of what we pay for it.

The question minister Smith should ponder is will battery storage reduce our generation costs or simply create wealth for the BESS owners?

BESS can allow IWT owners to double up on revenue

Anyone who occasionally looks at IESO data will quickly ascertain renewable energy such as the intermittent and unreliable IWT generation is, more often than naught, the reason why HOEP prices are as flat as 0.00/MWh during low demand hours. If those BESS can scoop up enough of that cheap power to charge their batteries, they are sitting on a gold mine.  When the HOEP goes up they can sell power acquired at higher prices such as the $59.92/MWh noted above or sometimes much higher.  If those BESS are owned by the same people who own the IWT generating that excess power, they can make even more money due to the “first-to-the-grid” rights they have embedded in their contracts! 

Should BESS contracts be awarded they will be doing what is commonly referred to as “energy arbitrage”.  In other words, they simply buy and store energy when its cheap (frequently at night) and sell/discharge it during the day when it is much more valuable!

A prior article of an existing IWT company in Ontario, coupled with their plea to add “battery storage” went into more detail pointing out the specifics of how it would generate increased revenue without benefiting ratepayers. This project is similar as while the proposed owner is not planning on locating the BESS project next to the several; IWT developments they own in Ontario; they will still be able to purchase the low-priced power via the IESO controlled grid and resell it for higher prices during high demand hours when the prices spike.

At the very least selling it to our neighbours in Michigan, New York and Quebec is a small revenue source but does help somewhat; in reducing costs to Ontario ratepayers. Who knows, perhaps, in the future, we will negotiate with those neighbours to receive “carbon credits” that can be allocated collectively to Ontario ratepayers and then sold, with the revenue generated from their sale simply applied to reduce our electricity costs! 

The foregoing sure beats having a BESS in our neighbourhood and having the possible concerns of a major high intensity fire as some BESS in other countries have experienced.