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.”

Once Again, Ontario Ratepayers and Taxpayers are Being Told to Hand Over More Money

A recent rate application before the OEB (Ontario Energy Board) brought back memories of when Bob Chiarelli was Ontario’s Minister of Energy and when queried about the costs of cancellation of the planned Oakville TransCanada gas plant stated:  “It’s less than a cup of Tim Hortons coffee a year“!

What brought the foregoing to mind was an OEB application from Wataynikaneyap Power LP for transmission rate increases that (it appears) would apply to all of Ontario’s ratepayers not just those 16 First Nations and their 14,000 residents that will eventually be connected to the power grid.

The announcement made in March 2018 with great fanfare by Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne and Federal Minister of Indigenous Services, Jane Philpott, concerned a $1.6 billion dollar Federal Government grant to build an 1,800-kilometre transmission line(s) to connect those 16 communities. The application submitted to the OEB seeks .20 cents monthly from all Ontario’s residential ratepayers which equates to $2.40 annually so is very close to the cost of an extra-large “timmies”. Over the 40-year estimated life of the transmission lines the total amount paid by all residential households would be approximately $400 million for this application which is a lot of “timmies” coffee. We should suspect the cost will increase as the transmission lines reach further to connect with the 14 other First Nations.  Oh, and an unknown portion of the .20 cents will go to Hydro One. 

The OEB also recently ruled on a significant application from Hydro One related to both their transmission and distribution connected customers. The OEB labeled it as; “the largest and most complicated rate case to come before the OEB.“ The reasoning behind the foregoing comment was because it was “a combined proposed revenue requirement of approximately $20 billion and a proposed investment plan of about $13 billion over the 2023-2027 rate period“ The result of their review and ruling is; all ratepayers will see an increase in rates associated with transmission costs and those who are Hydro One distribution customers will be slapped with an additional rate increase.  

The bill impacts noted by the OEB stated “on the transmission portion of the application, it is estimated that for a typical Hydro One residential customer with a monthly consumption of 750 kWh, the total bill impact averaged over the 2023-2027 period will be an increase of $0.69 per month“. Once again that doesn’t sound like much and will amount to only $8.28 annually but with 4.2 million households it totals around $35 million for the year and over five years becomes $175 million without factoring in the costs to businesses and other large consumers. 

The rate increase for Hydro One’s distribution customers approved was; “ for a typical residential distribution customer of Hydro One with a monthly consumption of 750 kWh, the total bill impact averaged over the 2023-2027 period will be an increase of $2.43 per month or 1.5%.“ For a residential customer consuming 750 kWh monthly the annual cost comes to $29.16 but will be more for businesses, farmers and other larger consumers.  For the approximately 1.4 million Hydro one residential customers alone the costs will be north of $41 million annually and for businesses will be much higher than the $29.16 for the “average” residential customer. 

As is obvious from the OEB announcements electricity rates are going up but, those increases are not because Ontario has added new generation it’s simply to help build new transmission lines to First Nations, upgrade existing ones and their associated infrastructure for the planned “full electrification” of the electricity sector. One should wonder is it meant  to ensure you will be able to charge your EV during our cold winter days.

Hydro One customers may well be forced to reduce their “timmies” intake over the upcoming years!

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!

IWT with “First-To-The-Grid” Rights Demonstrate the Best They Can Do is Wimp Out

August 23, 2022 once more demonstrated IWT (industrial wind turbines) inability to produce power when it is actually needed. The day produced a peak demand hour close to being in the top 10 hours so far in the current year reaching 21,075 MW at Hour 17.  We should surmise many of the Class A electricity customers fired up their gas generators to take advantage of their status and achieve the rate reductions that come with reducing their power draw as the Class A status allows.

At hour 17 the market price of power or HOEP (hourly Ontario energy price) saw IESO buying and selling power at $159.41/MWh via the intertie markets.  They were selling to Michigan and New York states while buying power from Quebec to ensure reliability over the grid. The exchanges at that hour resulted in a negative flow of 61 MW meaning we imported slightly more power than we exported.

The IWT at hour 17 generated 465 MWh which was just shy of their peak for the day of 519 MWh at hour 16 and represented 2.2% of demand but their capacity is over 15% of Ontario’s total grid connected capacity. At the hour when those IWT were demonstrating their unreliability our natural gas plants produced 4.926 MWh or 23.4% of demand with nuclear and hydro producing almost all of the balance.

The only positive thing about the failure of those IWT to produce power when it’s needed during peak periods is that we generally sell our surplus power for higher prices unlike the Spring and Fall when demand is low but generation from IWT is much higher than summer months. During those months IWT are frequently producing so much surplus power we curtail them and pay $120/MWh for those happenings.  At the same time the HOEP is at low prices so what is actually accepted on the grid is sold to Michigan and NY for pennies of their actual cost.  Both of the foregoing events simply drive-up costs to Ontario’s Class B ratepayers which are the small and medium sized businesses and residential ratepayers. In the meantime, large public entities such as universities and hospitals (many of whom are also Class A ratepayers) dependent on tax dollars are unaffected as they fire up their gas generators so it’s simply another cost to ratepayers and taxpayers.

The foregoing IWT failure is almost a daily event during summer days and highlights the fact once the Pickering nuclear plant is shut down (2025) our natural gas plants will be called on to continually generate power. Without any additional reliable power added to the grid in anticipation of that closure, Ontario’s energy security is at risk.

The question on our minds should be; when will the Ford led government do something that ensures Ontario’s businesses and households will have secure electricity sources that are capable of generating power 24 hours a day and 365 days a year and pass regulations to curtail our subsidies to IWT?

Wind Missing When Needed

Following is a screen shot taken on the IESO website and the HOEP (hourly Ontario energy price) shown on it is a reflection of what Ontarians would experience on a regular basis should our natural gas plants shut down as pushed by the OCAA (Ontario Clean Air Alliance).  The combination of the HOEP and the GA (Global Adjustment) comes to $293.49/MWh or 29.3/cents per kWh and getting close to what many European countries pay due to their move to renewable energy.  It should be recognized the 29.3 cents doesn’t include distribution or other costs so my guess is the all-in cost would be up around what residential ratepayers in Germany are currently paying. Germany is now firing up their coal plants in order to survive the upcoming winter as their gas supplies have been severely impacted by the Russia/Ukraine war and Russia has reduced the transmission of natural gas via their pipelines.

Most European counties anticipate electricity shortages over the next two years so we should expect the same here in Ontario should we shut down our gas plants as desired by the OCAA and the 33 municipalities who have endorsed their closure.

Industrial wind generation’s peak on August 2, 2022 came at the hour ending at 1 AM when they produced 1,927 MWh (39.3% of their capacity) but at the hour ending at 6 PM when peak demand hit 20,561 MW they managed to only generate 258 MWh or 5.2% of their capacity. Hour 4 when peak demand was lowest for the day at 13,796 MW and could have been easily supplied by nuclear and hydro but, wind turbines ran at 26.2% of their capacity generating 1,283 MWh when it wasn’t needed.

The ups and downs of wind generation were particularly visible this day demonstrating their inability to deliver power when it was actually needed. 

The time has come for the politicians and the eco-warriors citing the purported benefits of those industrial wind turbines to acknowledge their uselessness and how they do nothing more than add costs to our electricity and tax bills and must be backed up with natural gas plants!

Four Years Later and I Repeat: “If I were Ontario’s new Minister of Energy …”

Back on May 30, 2018 an article I penned, just prior to the last provincial election, listed ways in which the incoming ruling party could reduce electricity costs by $2 billion annually.  Electricity costs had more than doubled in Ontario under the reign of the McGuinty/Wynne led Liberals due to their enactment of the GEA (Green Energy Act) when George Smitherman was the Minister of Energy.

Ontario’s voters were expected to respond when casting their vote in early June 2018 and they did!  The ruling OLP (Ontario Liberal Party) were decimated turning them into what many referred to as the “mini-van party”.

My prior advocacy work had focused on the “electricity sector” and the cost of wind and solar generation. My efforts included frequent dialogue with the Conservative appointed “energy critics” so, at that time, I and many Ontario ratepayers in rural and urban communities had hopes the Doug Ford led Ontario Conservative Party would deal with the mess the Liberals had created. Potentially the savings would have amounted to around $8 billion over the past four years.

The Ford led government based on a recent report from the Ontario Financial Accountability Office seems to have simply transferred $6.9 billion in electricity costs for the 2021-2022 year and $118 billion to taxpayers over 20 years, even though taxpayers are also ratepayers!  In quickly reviewing recently released platforms for the OLP, the NDP and the recent OPCP budget it sure appears they all have plans aimed at “global warming” and want to spend billions continuing the push to jump on board with “The Great Reset” advocated by the WEF and our Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau.

The only dissenting voice amongst the political parties seems to be the newly formed “New Blue Party” whose “BLUEPRINT” states they will take “down wind turbines to reduce electricity costs”!

Following are the recommendations put forward in the article four years ago and I will leave it to the reader to pontificate as to whether or not, any of them were acted on!

“Green Energy Act

Immediately start work on cancelling the Green Energy Act

Conservation

Knowing Ontario has a large surplus of generation we export for 10/15 per cent of its cost I would immediately cancel planned conservation spending. This would save ratepayers over $433 million annually

Wind and solar contracts

I would immediately cancel any contracts that are outstanding but haven’t been started but may be in the process of a challenge via either the ERT (environmental review tribunal) or the court system. This would save ratepayers an estimated $200 million annually

Wind turbine noise and environmental non-compliance

Work with the MOECC Minister to insure they effect compliance by industrial wind developers both for exceeding noise level standards and operations during bird and bat migration periods.  Failure to comply would elicit large fines. This would save ratepayers an estimated $200/400 million annually

Change the “baseload” designation of generation for wind and solar developments

Both wind and solar generation is unreliable and intermittent, dependent on weather, and as such should not be granted “first to the grid rights”.  They are backed up by gas or hydro generation with both paid, for either spilling water or idling when the wind blows or the sun shines.  The cost is phenomenal.  As an example, wind turbines annually generate at approximately 30 per cent of rated capacity but 65 per cent of the time its generation is at the wrong time and not needed. The estimated annual ratepayer savings if wind generation was replaced by hydro would be $400 million and if replaced by gas in excess of $600 million

Charge a fee (tax) for out of phase/need generation for wind and solar

Should the foregoing “baseload” re-designation be impossible based on legal issues I would direct the IESO to institute a fee that would apply to wind and solar generation delivered during mid-peak and off-peak times.  A higher fee would also apply when wind is curtailed and would suggest a fee of $10/per MWh delivered during off-peak and mid-peak hours and a $20/per MWh for curtailed generation. The estimated annual revenue generated would be a minimum of $150 million

Increase LEAP contributions from LDC’s to 1 per cent of distribution revenues

The OEB would be instructed to institute an increase in the LDC (local distribution companies) LEAP (low-income assistance program) from 0.12 per cent to 1 per cent and reduce the allowed ROI (return on investment) by the difference. This would deliver an estimated $60/80 million annually reducing the revenue requirement for the OESP (Ontario electricity support program) currently funded by taxpayers

Close unutilized OPG generation plants

OPG currently has two power plants that are only very, very, occasionally called on to generate electricity yet ratepayers pick up the costs for OMA (operations, maintenance and administration). One of these is the Thunder Bay, former coal plant, converted to high-end biomass with a capacity of 165 MW which would produce power at a reported cost of $1.50/kWh (Auditor General’s report) and the other unused plant is the Lennox oil/gas plant in Napanee/Bath with a capacity of 2,200 MW that is never used. The estimated annual savings from the closing of these two plants would be in the $200 million range.

Rejig time-of-use (TOU) pricing to allow opt-in or opt-out

TOU pricing is focused on flattening demand by reducing usage during “peak hours” without any consideration of households or businesses.  Allow households and small businesses a choice to either agree to TOU pricing or the average price (currently 8.21 cents/kWh after the 17% Fair Hydro Act reduction) over a week.  This would benefit households with shift workers, seniors, people with disabilities utilizing equipment drawing power and small businesses and would likely increase demand and reduce surplus exports thereby reducing our costs associated with those exports. The estimated annual savings could easily be in the range of $200/400 million annually

Other initiatives

Niagara water rights

I would conduct an investigation into why our Niagara Beck plants have not increased generation since the $1.5 Billion spent on “Big Becky” (150 MW capacity) which was touted to produce enough additional power to provide electricity to 160,000 homes or over 1.4 million MWh.  Are we constrained by water rights with the US or is it a lack of transmission capabilities to get the power to where demand resides?

MPAC’s wind turbine assessments

One of the previous Ministers of Finance instructed MPAC (Municipal Property Assessment Corp,) to assess industrial wind turbines (IWT) at a maximum of $40,000 per MW of capacity despite their value of $1.5/2 million each.   I would request whomever is appointed by the new Premier to the Finance Ministry portfolio to recall those instructions and allow MPAC to reassess IWT at their current values over the terms of their contracts.  This would immediately benefit municipalities (via higher realty taxes) that originally had no ability to accept or reject IWT.

If one does a quick addition of the foregoing one will see the benefit to the ratepayers of the province would amount to in excess of $2 billion dollars which co-incidentally is approximately even more than the previous government provided via the Fair Hydro Act.

Hmm, perhaps we didn’t need to push those costs off to the future for our children and grandchildren to pay!

Now that I have formulated a plan to reduce electricity costs by over $2 billion per annum I can relax, confident that I can indeed handle the portfolio handed to me by the new Premier of the province.”

Grand Delusion: The Liberal Government’s Proposed “Clean” Electricity Standard

The captioned is a slightly edited version of the paper that Robert Lyman and I wrote on behalf of the CCMBC (Coalition of Concerned Manufacturers and Businesses of Canada) in response to the Federal Governments paper: “A Clean Electricity Standard in Support of a net zero electricity sector”.

The article is posted on the C2C Journal a great online publication that was founded in 2007.

I would encourage you to visit the site and either read or reread the report as the edited version has pictures and graphs that bring the report to life.

Find it here:

Grand Delusion: The Liberal Government’s Proposed “Clean” Electricity Standard

THE PROPOSED CLEAN ELECTRICITY STANDARD

Comments by the Coalition of Concerned Manufacturers and Businesses of Canada

April 15, 2022

by Robert Lyman and Parker Gallant

On March 8, 2022, the government of Canada published a document entitled, “A Clean Electricity Standard in Support of a net zero electricity sector”. The stated purpose of this document was “to send a clear signal that the Government of Canada intends to move forward with regulations to achieve a net-zero electricity system by 2035; to outline considerations related to this objective; and to solicit comments from Canadians regarding the scope and design of the CES”.

The Coalition of Concerned Manufacturers and Businesses of Canada (hereafter referred to as “the Coalition”) is a not-for-profit association that represents small- and medium-sized manufacturers and other businesses in Canada.  The goal of the Coalition is to advance policies that promote economic growth and retain good jobs in Canada. 

General Comments

Much of the current public discussion concerning future energy transitions is based on speculation about the timing, cost, and pace of commercialisation of new technologies. It would seem more prudent to base one’s judgments on what has actually happened in past energy transitions rather than try and predict the future.

The period from scientific discovery to widespread commercialisation of technologies has been much longer than is currently estimated by advocates of rapid decarbonisation. None of the steps in the innovation pathway – research, discovery, testing, demonstration, initial market development or widespread commercialisation – operates according to a fixed or predictable schedule.

Professor Vaclav Smil of the University of Manitoba, perhaps the world’s foremost expert on energy transitions, has argued that past transitions have been slow, painstaking and hard to predict. Existing technologies, both for generation and consumption of electricity, have a lot of inertia. Smil observes that the changes in technology and infrastructure required to decarbonise the world in a few decades as a ‘grand delusion’.

The proposed CES seems premised on the view that, in the face of high market costs and barriers, governments can force the pace of change and retain the support of the electorate in doing so. Outside of the centrally planned economies, however, no government has attempted to prescribe the timelines for commercialisation of new technologies or the dates by which a large share of society’s needs must be met by a new technology. ‘Picking winners’ may be an increasingly popular aspect of national industrial policy (despite its history of failures), but a prudent government should be hesitant about committing billions of taxpayers’ dollars to technologies that are not ready and cannot compete without permanent subsidies.

Those who pursue the net zero goal will be confronted with the reality that hydrocarbons are nature’s most efficient embodiment of primary energy. The combination of high energy density, abundance, stability, safety, portability, safe storage and affordability is unmatched by any other source of energy. Governments cannot wish those advantages away.

The electricity sector offers good examples of the immense barriers to net zero. Just meeting the additional generation requirements needed to power proposed conversion to electric vehicles would require a major expansion in the electricity generation capacity across Canada, sometimes estimated as the addition of 10,000 megawatts of capacity from today’s levels. The provinces of New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Saskatchewan and Alberta still have coal fired capacity collectively totalling over 9,000 MW which will also require replacement, adding considerable additional costs.

The two largest power projects being built in Canada today, Site C in British Columbia and Muskrat Falls in Labrador, have a combined design capacity of 1,944 megawatts. To meet just the additional EV-related  power demand, at least eight more projects of the same size would have to be built. It generally takes at least 15 to 20 years to bring such a project to production in Canada. There are none even being contemplated at this time.

Central to the vision on which the proposed CEP is based is the thesis that in future Canada must rely primarily on wind and solar power generation for incremental supply, notwithstanding that these sources are intermittent and frequently unreliable.

The Issue of Costs

The discussion paper presents the transformation of Canada’s electrical energy system from one which is predominately reliant on low- or zero-carbon dioxide emissions to one that has virtually no carbon dioxide emissions as though it can be accomplished at low cost. Indeed, considerations of cost seem barely to enter into the presentation of facts, which is a highly unrealistic approach.

Canadians’ experience with efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from electricity systems in Ontario and Alberta have already revealed the significant economy-damaging costs of seeking to increase reliance on wind, solar and biomass energy. In Ontario, electricity rates for consumers doubled over the past decade and, according to the Ontario Auditor General, the cost of the move to increased wind and solar energy will be $90 billion over the life of the existing contracts.

Those who have studied the experience of other countries that have sought to increase reliance on renewable energy sources for electricity generation have found consistent patterns. These efforts bring about large increases in the actual prices that must be paid for electricity by consumers and businesses. Further, the price increases grow and accelerate as the percentage of electricity generated from intermittent renewables increases. This is due to the need for large and increasing amounts of costly backup and storage – things that are not needed at all in conventional hydrocarbons-based systems. Jurisdictions that increased generation from renewables up to as high as 30 per cent to total electricity supply have seen an approximate tripling in the price of electricity to ratepayers, except where a large portion of the increased costs is off-loaded to taxpayers.

In the remainder of these comments, the Coalition will address four specific aspects of the proposed CES:

  • The paper’s treatment of energy technology pathways
  • The paper’s proposal to minimize use of natural gas-fired generation
  • The cost of bulk electricity storage
  • Issues related to transmission

Technology Generation Pathways

The concept of technology is touted in the discussion paper as a way to achieve “net-zero” electricity for which wind turbines (onshore and offshore), solar (photovoltaic and concentrated), hydro and nuclear are considered to be zero emissions! It goes on to claim: “low and non-emitting generation technologies are becoming more cost-competitive, the pace of low-carbon electricity deployment must accelerate for Canada to reach NZ2035”.

The paper also opines favourably on possible energy sources under development such as SMR (small modular reactors), hydrogen fuel cells and carbon capture as zero emission. It also favours biomass (cogeneration and simple cycle) ahead of any form of natural gas generation. 

Biomass:  The treatment of biomass as low emissions flies in the face of reports from the UK where one of the world’s largest biomass power plants (DRAX)1. ranks third in the EU for emissions (if they were counted) and also received more than £800m in subsidies.

Solar photovoltaic is also a questionable source of energy in Canada (weak winter solar) and where it has been developed has cost more than estimated and produced considerably less power than forecast.  The larger projects started on the Nevada deserts have had many problems and the State 2. is dependent for over 60% of its electricity needs on natural gas plants. It would also need storage which would add considerably to its costs.

SMR technology is in process in many locations around the world but to date only a small number are operating, with Russia’s Akademik Lomonosov,3. the world’s first floating nuclear power plant which began operation in May 2020 producing energy from two 35 MW SMRs. China’s Huaneng Group Co.’s 200-megawatt unit 1 reactor at Shidao Bay is now feeding power to the grid in Shandong province, the China Nuclear Energy Association 4. said in a December 2021 article. Other SMRs are under construction or in the licensing stage in Argentina, Canada, China, Russia, South Korea and the United States of America.  SMR, dependent on costs, appears to be a possible “net-zero” energy source before several others but is unlikely to meet the targets committed to by the Canadian Federal Government at COP26.

Wind and solar are touted as playing a “key role”in reducing the electricity sector’s emissions but it will be very costly as demonstrated in Ontario5. where prices more than doubled in less than 10 years as they rose to represent over 15 per cent of capacity but generated only 9 per cent of demand, often when not needed. It must be recognized they receive “first-to-the-grid” rights meaning clean hydro is spilled and clean nuclear is steamed off to maintain grid stability and ratepayers are saddled with those costs in addition to what is paid to wind and solar developers. Due to their unreliable and intermittent nature they require backup from natural gas generation and ratepayers are saddled with that cost too.

Carbon capture utilization and storage (CCUS) is a major part of the discussion paper.  Based on the following excerpt however it seems to be viewed as temporary: “Over time, however, natural gas coupled with CCUS will increasingly be in competition with other emerging options that are both non-emitting and flexible in the roles they can play in electricity systems.” The issue of CCUS has gained interest from the Government of Alberta 6. and six major oil patch participants who are seeking “carbon capture credits” to assist in recovering some of the costs. While Canada is a leader in the development of CCUS the costs involved will be billions of dollars. Those costs will add considerably to electricity generation costs from flexible fossil fuels required to back up intermittent and unreliable wind and solar generation.  A report from June 2020 from Rutgers University 7. stated: “The analysis suggests coal-sourced CO2 emissions can be stored in this region at a cost of $52–$60 ton−1 , whereas the cost to store emissions from natural-gas-fired plants ranges from approximately $80 to $90.”  Note the foregoing are US dollars and those costs will be added to each kWh delivered. Transferring part of these costs from emitters to taxpayers through the use of investment tax credits for CCUS will not reduce the cost to society.

Hydrogen blending with natural gas will raise consumer costs and risk public health while barely reducing emissions, a US think-tank 9. reported in a March 30, 2022 article. It goes on to state “A blend of 20% green hydrogen in natural gas would raise fuel costs for heating and cooking by a factor of two to four, as renewable H2 is currently six to 14 times more expensive than fossil gas, the study explains. Green hydrogen prices would have to fall by roughly an order of magnitude to achieve parity with the price of natural gas for use in buildings.”  The “Discussion Paper” suggests “releasing the Hydrogen Strategy for Canada to position Canada as a world-leading producer, user and exporter of clean hydrogen, and associated technologies”.  It appears once again the blending of hydrogen and natural gas would further drive up the cost of electricity should this be cast as another regulation.

Natural Gas

Natural gas has long been favoured as a clean, efficient, plentiful and affordable source of energy supply for multiple uses. In absolute terms, natural gas is the fastest growing source of supply for energy consumers, and through the use of liquification one of the fastest growing sources of international energy trade. In the United States, the increasing domestic supply of natural gas and its affordability have allowed the US to convert a large amount of previously coal-fired electricity generation to the lower cost and cleaner fuel.

In Canada, natural gas is used both for reliable base-load power generation and a back-up source to help cope with the serious problems of intermittency that plague wind and solar generation sources that have been used for political reasons. According to Canada’s Emissions Inventory, published by Environment and Climate Change Canada, in 2019 natural gas fired generating plants produced 46,100 GWh of electricity, 8 per cent of Canada’s total, and emitted 22 megatonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent, 32 per cent of the emissions from power generation. This, however, is only illustrative of how extremely low greenhouse gas emissions already are from electricity generation in Canada. Emissions from natural-gas generated power are only 3 per cent of Canada’s total emissions.

Increasingly, natural gas electricity generation in most provinces will come to represent a backup source produced from plants constructed a decade or more ago. The Independent Electricity Systems Operator of Ontario (IESO) recently completed a study to determine the feasibility and cost of phasing out natural gas generation by 2030. The findings of that study are very relevant to the federal government’s consideration of the Proposed Clean Electricity Standard. These included the following:

  • Gas generation offers a set of services, including quick response time and assured availability, that keep the grid reliable and help balance the variability of wind and solar.
  • Completely phasing out gas generation by 2030 would lead to blackouts.
  • Replacing gas generation in Ontario by 2030 would require more than $27 billion to install new sources of supply and upgrade transmission infrastructure. This translates into a 60 per cent, or $100 per month, increase in the average monthly residential bill.
  • There are many other practical considerations that make a 2030 phase-out impossible, including the time that it takes to plan, get regulatory approvals for, and build new infrastructure and non-availability of storage as an alternative. Those impediments are likely to last well beyond 2030.

The IESO report did not address the fact that many natural gas generation facilities, including those operated by private firms (i.e. the so-called non-utility generators, or NUGs), while often signed to 20-year contracts, generally operate for much longer than that. In fact, it is not surprising to see them operating under 40-year contracts. The premature cancellation of these contracts could cost well over $600 million, which would also be added to consumers’ bills.

Anyone considering the termination of existing contracts across Canada and the construction of new generation, transmission and storage facilities to replace the services now provided by natural gas-fired generators would have to take these factors into account.

Storage

Battery Storage is only cited once in the Discussion Paper in the following context: “leveraging Canada’s competitive advantage in mining to build the Canadian battery and critical mineral supply chains”.  The foregoing suggests the author(s) do not regard it as a means to significantly support the electricity sector, perhaps due to its high costs.  A report from June 2021 by the US NREL 8. (National Renewable Energy Laboratory) estimated the cost as; “(e.g., a $300/kWh, 4-hour battery would have a power capacity cost of $1200/kW).” That translates to a cost of U.S.$1.2 million for just 1 MW (megawatt) of storage for 4 hours and if done to any scale would drive up electricity prices.

No jurisdiction has yet succeeded in getting the percentage of its electricity generated from intermittent renewables past 50 per cent on an annualized basis. As the reliance on renewables increases, the grid operator must rely more on coal or natural gas-fueled backup power, and where these are prohibited, on some form of storage, most likely from large batteries. The cost of batteries is high and increases with the period of time for which storage is required, and whether the storage is needed only to balance daily or seasonal variations in demand

The cost of batteries sufficient to power a jurisdiction of millions of people would be enormous. In jurisdictions where a calculation has been made, the costs of the batteries exceeds the full annual GDP of the jurisdiction, and implies an increase in the price of electricity by a factor of 15 or more. For example, according to a study by Roger Andrews[1], the total amount of storage needed to provide secure supply in California amounts to about 25,000 GWh per year, more than a full month’s current rate of usage. Even assuming a substantial reduction in current battery prices, the cost of that would be in the range of US $5 trillion. And these batteries would need to be replaced regularly. Ken Gregory[2], a Canadian engineer, has assessed the cost of electrifying the United States economy without hydrocarbon-based generation, including the cost of battery backup. Simply to meet 2020 demand for 31 days would require storage that would cost $77.4 trillion, almost four times current US annual GDP.

Bulk electricity battery storage is hopelessly insufficient, no matter the cost. David Wojick, a Virginia-based Ph.D. in the logic and philosophy of science, explains this well in his article “California secretly struggles with renewables” (January 19, 2021).

Here is an excerpt:

California has hooked up a grid battery system that is almost ten times bigger than the previous world record holder, but when it comes to making renewables reliable it is so small it might as well not exist. The new battery array is rated at a storage capacity of 1,200 megawatt hours (MWh); easily eclipsing the record holding 129 MWh Australian system built by Tesla a few years ago. However, California peaks at a whopping 42,000 MW. If that happened on a hot, low wind night this supposedly big battery would keep the lights on for just 1.7 minutes (that’s 103 seconds). This is truly a trivial amount of storage…Barely time to find the flashlight, right? “This one reportedly utilizes more than 4,500 stacked battery racks, each of which contains 22 individual battery modules. That is 99,000 separate modules that have to be made to work well together. Imagine hooking up 99,000 electric cars and you begin to get the picture.”

Large-scale battery storage of electricity is still an infant industry, with enormous costs and technological risks, It is foolish in the extreme for Canada to commit to a pattern of electricity generation dependent on large-scale batteries for security of supply.

[1] Roger Andrews, The cost of wind and solar power: batteries included. Energy Matters, November 22, 2018

[2] Ken Gregory. The Cost of Net-Zero-Electrification of the USA. Friends of Science. December 20, 2021

Transmission Costs

The Discussion Paper notes; “Achieving net-zero electricity will require coordinated efforts. Provinces and territories hold jurisdiction over electricity planning and operation, while the federal government holds jurisdiction over emissions reduction regulations, interprovincial transmission projects, and international commitments, among others.” 

What the foregoing infers is either conflict or agreement will occur between the two parties as to how to achieve “net-zero electricity” which will obviously depend on projected outcomes and the current generation sources in each province/territory. 

One example is referenced as the “Atlantic Loop” project which aims to transmit hydro power from Muskrat and Churchill Falls (both located in Labrador) to other Atlantic regions, principally Nova Scotia which has 8 coal fired plants that federal regulations says they must close by 2030.  No doubt Nova Scotia would be happy to replace those coal plants with hydro power but what cost would Quebec, Newfoundland and Labrador charge for that power? The other consideration is that Quebec is a winter peaking province so has little surplus energy available during that period meaning little or no generation from Churchill Falls. 

To top things off, Muskrat Falls is way over budget, having ballooned from an estimated $7.2 billion to $13.1 billion. The Federal 10. government stepped in to provide up to $5.2 billion with $1 billion of that as a loan guarantee and another $1 billion for transmission costs.  The latter $1 billion is 20 per cent of the estimated cost of the Atlantic Loop which in late January 2022 Intergovernmental Affairs Minister Dominic LeBlanc said his Ministry required more information before they could “justify a federal investment”. 

Based on the comments in the Discussion Paper it appears the government is prepared now to “justify” that investment as it states: “The ‘Atlantic Loop’ project is an example of collaboration to bring clean power to where it’s needed in Eastern Canada. The Government of Canada and the Canada Infrastructure Bank are currently collaborating with provinces and regional partners to advance this intertie project, which could greatly reduce emissions and maintain electricity affordability in the Atlantic region.” So, Nova Scotians should now wonder what will the cost be for the power combined with the costs of the transmission.  Will the cost of electricity be truly affordable? To top things off, GE 11. (who supplied the turbines) has been having problems with the software for the LIL (Labrador Island-link) slated to bring power to the Northeast Avalon.   

High voltage transmission projects vary in terms of costs per kilometer. As one example the 301-kilometer Eastern Alberta Transmission Line 12. completed several years ago cost $1.8 billion or about $6 million per kilometer.  Two major power lines under construction in northwestern Ontario are estimated to cost much less!  Those are the East-West Tie Line, 13. a 450-kilometre line stretching from Wawa to Thunder Bay, at a cost of $777 million makes its projected cost per kilometer $1.7 million. The other project is the 1,800 kilometer Wataynikaneyap Power 14. line serving many small indigenous communities on its route.  In total it will serve 15,000 people for a total cost of $1.9 billion or just over $1 million per kilometer and $126.6K per person and over $500K for a family of four.   

An article in the Financial Post on March 31, 2022 penned by Francis Bradley, CEO of Electricity Canada titled “The clock is ticking on Canada’s electricity grid15. stated “Under net-zero, Canada will stop its reliance on fossil fuels by mid-century. However, by the government’s own estimation, to do so Canada will need two to three times the amount of electricity it produces now in order to decarbonize other sectors of the economy.”  The article went on to note: “Transmission lines — the big power lines that move electricity long distances — are hugely complicated to survey and then build. Even making sure the electricity infrastructure on your street is ready for the increased load will take years of investment.”  Mr. Bradley went on to say; “Decarbonizing Canada’s economy by 2050 will be a herculean task. Decarbonizing the electricity system in less than half that time will be doubly so. If either is to have any chance of succeeding, the electricity industry will need to do more, faster, as Prime Minister Trudeau has said. But that also works the other way. The countdown clock is ticking. And we’re still waiting for vital leadership.”

What the above illustrates is that just the costs associated with ensuring the transmission lines delivering the “clean green” renewable energy will require significant upgrades costing billions of dollars.  Those costs coupled with those associated with the desire to eliminate fossil fuel generation will drive up power costs for families and businesses. It will affect the provinces of Nova Scotia, Alberta and Saskatchewan to a much greater degree due to their current use of fossil fuels in the generation of their electricity needs.

The foregoing suggests costs in the tens of billions of dollars which in turn will damage Canada’s ability to attract new business, it’s related capital and will decimate the economy and drive-up unemployment levels. 

Conclusion

This analysis outlines the impossibilities of achieving the goals set by the Government of Canada within the proposed time frame.  Any push towards the unrealistic outcomes included in the planned government policies will badly damage the Canadian economy.  As well, they will lead to millions of Canadian households living in energy poverty, spending well over 10 per cent of disposable income on trying to stay warm in winter and cool in summer. It is no accident that Canadian government climate plans never include reputable, independent cost/benefit analyses, as to do so would reveal to Canadians just how unachievable and punitively costly the stated goals are. 

It is important to recognize Canada’s total emissions in 2019 (last reported year) were 20 Mt lower than China’s emissions increased in the two years between 2019 and 2021 during the pandemic. China’s emissions reported by the IEA (International Energy Agency) rose to over 11.9 billion tonnes which represents 33 per cent of total global emissions. China was also the only major economy to experience economic growth in both 2020 and 2021, questioning the often-cited claim that “the environment and the economy go hand in hand”.

Sensible, measurable policies to achieve tangible benefits to the environment are welcomed by the Coalition.  Unfortunately, the approach in the Clean Electricity Standard document does not qualify as either measurable or achievable.

  1. https://atlantic.ctvnews.ca/ottawa-hands-n-l-5-2-billion-for-troubled-muskrat-falls-hydro-project-1.5526011
  2. https://www.saltwire.com/atlantic-canada/business/muskrat-falls-power-in-march-2022-could-be-too-optimistic-according-to-pub-consultant-100661743/
  3. https://www.transmissionhub.com/articles/transprojects/eastern-alberta-transmission-line
  4. https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/thunder-bay/thunder-bay-power-contracts-valard-1.5726667
  5. https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/thunder-bay/wataynikaneyap-power-proceeding-1.5340793
  6. https://financialpost.com/opinion/francis-bradley-the-clock-is-ticking-on-canadas-electricity-grid https://news.sky.com/story/climate-change-draxs-renewable-energy-plant-is-uks-biggest-co2-emitter-analysis-claims-12428130
  7. https://www.eia.gov/state/?sid=NV
  8. https://world-nuclear-news.org/Articles/Russia-connects-floating-plant-to-grid
  9. https://www.bnnbloomberg.ca/china-is-home-to-world-s-first-small-modular-nuclear-reactor-1.1698791
  10. https://www.ieso.ca/en/Corporate-IESO/Media/Year-End-Data
  11. https://financialpost.com/commodities/energy/oil-gas/oilpatch-looks-to-ottawa-for-carbon-capture-tax-credit-as-alberta-pushes-six-projects-forward
  12. https://royalsocietypublishing.org/doi/pdf/10.1098/rsfs.2019.0065
  13. https://www.nrel.gov/docs/fy21osti/79236.pdf
  14. https://www.rechargenews.com/energy-transition/hydrogen-blending-will-raise-consumer-costs-and-risk-public-health-while-barely-reducing-emissions-us-think-tank/2-1-1193416

Other related observations

Peak emissions occurred in 2007 at 752 megatons and our population was 32.89 million so per capita emissions were 22.86 tons per person.

Emissions in 2019 (latest from Government of Canada) were 730 megatonnes and our population was 38.19 million so our per capita emissions were 19.11 tons per person a drop of 16.4%.

https://www.canada.ca/en/environment-climate-change/services/environmental-indicators/greenhouse-gas-emissions.html

Canada had wind capacity at the end of 2021 of 14,304 MW and 2,399 MW of solar which reputedly generated slightly less than 6% of total electricity of 647.7 TWh!  https://www.cer-rec.gc.ca/en/data-analysis/canada-energy-future/2020/results/index.html  From this “variable renewable energy (VRE) sources such as wind and solar. Figure R.21 shows that by 2050, total non-hydro renewable capacity in the Evolving Scenario is over triple 2018 levels. Total wind capacity rises to 40 GW and total solar capacity rises to 20 GW.” It also has a key uncertainty “Export market developments: Climate policies, fuel prices, electrification and power sector decarbonization in export markets could impact future projects and transmission intertie developments.”


Promise Made, Promise Missed by a Country Mile

Lorrie Goldstein of the Toronto Sun recently penned a great article utilizing facts emanating from a February 16, 2022 report released by the FAO (Financial Accountability Office of Ontario).  Goldstein’s article took the factual information from the FAO report and pointed out how, when Doug Ford was campaigning back in 2018, he promised to reduce electricity bills by 12% but failed to do so based on the FAO report. Lourie neatly referenced it as a “stretch goal”, a term made famous in Ontario by former Premier Wynne.  Wynne had promised a 17% reduction goal in electricity rates but when she was unable to do that, she referenced it as one of the Ontario Liberal Party’s “stretch goals”.

The article and the FAO’s report inspired me to review my bill from April 2018 and compare it to the bill I had just received from Hydro One.

I first compared the actual cost of the “electricity” line and discovered back in May 2018 the calculations using my bill indicated it averaged 8.4 cents/kWh (kilowatt hour) whereas my recent bill averaged it at 8.94 cents/kWh. That clarified that the cost of the actual electricity consumed increased by 6%.  Further calculations including “delivery” and “regulatory” charges less the discounts; which in 2018 was the 8% provincial sales tax had accelerated under the Ford led government to become a 14.9% discount on my recent bill. The 2022 discount meant the bottom line per kWh costs were 13.8 cents/kWh versus 16.6 cents/kWh in 2018 representing a 16.8% reduction.  At first glance it appears Ford’s “promise made” was a “promise kept” but this is where the FAO report calls him out.

The FAO report in part 3. highlighted as, “Energy and Electricity Support Programs” lists and itemizes the relative costs of the nine (9) subsidy programs grossly expanded on by the Ford led Ontario Government. It concludes those subsidies will total $6.9 billion!

The foregoing $6.9 billion is being absorbed by taxpayers! Interestingly enough the electricity subsidies represent 52.7% of the Provincial deficit forecast in the Province of Ontario’s February 14, 2022 “Third Quarter Finances”. That forecast indicated we Ontarians can look forward to a provincial deficit of $13.1 billion for the year ending March 31, 2022!

If one does the simple math ($6.9 billion divided by 150.5 TWh [terawatt hours] of grid connected generation less imports) to how much, per kWh, the $6.9 billion represents; it is about 4.6 cents/kWh. That 4.6 cents/kWh added to the 13.7 cents/kWh brings the actual current costs to 18.3 cents/kWh. That means actual costs in the past four (4) years increased by 10.2% suggesting Ford’s promise to reduce electricity costs missed his promise by 22.2% or an average of 5.5% per year.

Promise made and promise missed by a country mile!  PS: Stay tuned for further concepts related to other potential juggling involving the Energy Ministry

Wind Hammers Ontario Ratepayers and Taxpayers

Yesterday (January 5, 2022) Ontarians were once again battered by gusting winds approaching 90 km at times and those with ownership of industrial wind turbines (IWT) in the province were loving it!  Our neighbours in Michigan, New York and Quebec, etc. also were pleased as they collectively took 59,242 MWh (megawatt hours)) of the 90,146 MWh generated by those IWT and only had to pay an average of $17.33/MWh (1.7 cents/kWh).

The 90,146 MWh ($135/MWh) added to the 7,800 MWh ($120/MWh) of curtailed wind generation drove the total cost of wind generation for the day to $13,106,000 or $145.39/MWh (14.5 cents/kWh).

Those IWT generated an average of just over 85% of their rated capacity throughout the day (including the curtailed MW) and 58% of their generation was exported for those very cheap prices.  I’m confident the trading companies buying and selling our surplus generation for our neighbours also enjoy the benefits we bestow on them too by creating the trading revenue.  

So, we generated approximately $1,027,000 from the sale of those 59,242 MWh but they cost us Ontario ratepayers and taxpayers about $8,613,000. That means we subsidized the sale with $7,586,000 or $128.00/MWh of our after-tax dollars!  We hope our neighbouring states and provinces are very appreciative of our continuing generosity!

We Ontario taxpayers and ratepayers should appreciate the very recent “mea culpa” expressed by our former Premier, Kathleen Wynne, in her interview with MacLean’s magazine when asked about issues she didn’t feel good about stated: “Well, I score myself very low on the electricity price,” Wynne said.“

Hey, Kathleen, we ratepayers and taxpayers score you and your predecessor, Dalton McGuinty and those minions like Gerald Butts, Katie Telford and Ben Chin who pulled your strings very low too. Perhaps your handling of the electricity file is why the Ontario Liberal Party became the EV (electric vehicle) minivan party. 

The unfortunate part of your party’s demise is Butts, Telford and Chin now pull the strings of the Liberal Party of Canada and seem intent on perpetuating your low scores on all of Canada’s energy security!