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!

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!

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.

Electric Vehicles Demonstrate Inept Governments via Grants, Mandates and New Taxes

Developed countries around the world are literally throwing money at trying to electrify the transportation sector (passenger cars and light trucks). Canada is no exception as at both the Federal and Provincial levels many announcements and articles have displayed how they have handed out grants to manufacturers of the vehicles, batteries to power them as well as charging stations. Depending on where you are around the world EV buyers receive a variety of incentives, including direct grants, tax breaks (no sales or VAT taxes), low-cost charging stations, etc. all  with taxpayer dollars.

Surprisingly despite all the billions of our tax dollars being handed out Canadians are not buying those EV at the same pace as the rest of the world as an article a few days ago noted: “Statistics Canada data show EVs made up one in 14 new vehicles registered in the first half of this year, compared with one in 20 a year earlier.“ The article went on to state China was responsible for 56% of global sales and for Canada to achieve the 60% sales target for 2030 they would have to grow from 55,600 to about 480,000 over six months to hit that target. Perhaps it has something to do with the fact the Canadian Automobile Association lists 80 EV models with an average sales price of $82,000 and, EV lose considerable range in our cold winters?

Two of Canada’s taxpayers smaller handouts

Lion Electric Company: Back onMarch 15, 2021 a joint announcement made by PM Trudeau and Quebec Premier Legault handed Lion Electric $100 million of our tax dollars and labelled it as an “investment”!  The grant they handed out was 54% of the cost ($185 million) of building a “battery assembly plant” in the Laurentians but labelling it as an investment seems a stretch as, if, and when, Lion Electric generate a profit we taxpayers will not be recipients of dividend payments or appreciating shareholdings.  On the latter note it is an interesting exercise to see how the shares have performed since the grant announcement.  Shares in the entity appear to have had an initial value on the NYSE of US$16.31/share on March 1, 2021, and as of November 18,2022 were valued at US$3.01 a drop of 81.54%! Interestingly Lion recently announced their third quarter 2022 results and stated their revenue was up 244% but losses increased by 316%! Quite the investment!

Taiga Motors Corporation: On July 12, 2021, the Mayor of Shawinigan and the Federal and Quebec Governments announced forgivable loans and grants to Taiga which would allow them to manufacture electrically  powered “personal watercraft, snowmobiles, electric motorization systems and battery packs.“ The collective amount was $50 million (40%) towards the $125.17 million cost of the new plant. Car and Driver tested one of the Taiga snowmobile models in March 2022 and while they didn’t disparage it, they suggested you better not stray too far from your base due to their limited miles range (62 miles for the one tested).  The price was also rather startling with the “Nomad” priced at US$19,490 whereas a Ski-Doo or Polaris model would be in the US$10/12,000 range with much higher mileage. Taiga’s initial share price after their launch in April 2021 was $13.25 and it now sits at $4.00 meaning it has dropped 70% and if one looks at their year over year results their losses as of the 9 months ended September 30th were down from $88.8 million to $35.9 million. Can we really trust politicians to create wealth using our tax dollars to electrify our transportation and other sectors?

As noted, the foregoing handouts were small ones, but we Ontarians have been subjected to handouts by the Ford and Trudeau led governments totalling in the billions aimed at the same goal of electrifying the transportation sector (automobiles and light trucks). They handed out $1 billion to Stellantis, $590 million to Ford $518 million to GM and $260 million to Honda meaning $2.368 billion of our tax dollars were committed to ensure we retain some of the jobs we have had for decades in the auto sector. The province and the feds have also been trying to attract battery manufacturers and will supply LG Energy with $1 billion of our tax dollars as well as an unknown amount to Umicore, a Belgian global metals refiner who will build a battery materials facility.

In addition to the foregoing taxpayer grants, the Federal Government also have the ”Zero Emission Vehicle Infrastructure Program aimed at handing out $680 million to entice people and companies to build “charging and refueling stations”. They apparently see this as “one of the key barriers to ZEV adoption“ but we taxpayers should suspect its related to the average sale price of those EV as noted above and our concern about them losing range during our cold winter days.

What’s happening elsewhere? 

Norway: A recent article; “Norway Became an EV Paradise, Now It’s Imposing a Weight Tax and Bringing  Back the VAT“ noted upcoming legislation in Norway will rescind most of the favourable benefits that have made it the country with the highest EV sales per capita. The new legislation will remove the many perks granted to EV buyers displayed in a graft posted in an article a few months ago. The VAT in Norway alone will add 25% to the purchase price of an EV and the weight tax another 2/3%.  As that occurs, we would expect, the 78 % EV sales have so far represented in 2022, will fall, as they will cost considerably more than a new ICE vehicle once those new taxes become legislated.

United Kingdom:  It appears the UK has recently become  concerned  the net zero target may well lead to “five fuel taxes: fuel duty, vehicle excise duty, landfill tax, the carbon price floor and the emission trading schemedrying up according to an article in the Financial Times!  As a result of that concern a “tax vacuum” will be created during a time when the country is running significant deficits so, as a start, they plan to charge EV owners with the vehicle excise duty.  Grants being handed out are also on a downward trail as purchase grants for new EV have been reduced from £5,000. to £1,500.

Targeted EV sales in Canada

The 2022 Federal budget expanded the push to electrify the transportation sector in Canada requiring 20% of all vehicles sold in Canada to be EV by 2026, 60% by 2030 and 100% by 2035. In addition, the budget extended the $5,000 per vehicle grant to help achieve those targets. Annual new auto sales in Canada vary between 1.5 million to 2 million so by 2035 at the low end $7.5 billion of our tax dollars will possibly wind up supporting those “mandated” sales. The other issue relates to lost sales taxes etc. from ICE vehicles as outlined in a January 17, 2022 article, published by the CPA (Canadian Professional Accountants), noting: “The federal government collects nearly $6 billion per year in gas and diesel excise taxes, not including the GST or HST on those purchases. Add in provincial fuel taxes and over $16 billion in annual government revenue that will disappear once Canadian drivers are weaned off the gas pump. It’s enough to rip a large hole in public finances.“ It is worth pointing out the CPA article was using 2021 data and the price of both diesel and gasoline have climbed considerably since then meaning the revenue lost added to government grants will increase taxpayer costs to over $30 billion annually.

Conclusion:

Looking only at the Trudeau led government’s plan to electrify the transportation sector in Canada demonstrates their inept ability to govern the country responsibly due to their insane belief Canada’s emissions reduction from the transportation sector will impact the climate. Not a chance!

Ontario’s Perfect Demonstration of Wind’s Intermittent and Unreliable Nature

A Short History about wind’s electricity generation arrival

“Scottish engineer and physicist James Blyth (1839-1906) was credited as the first to generate electricity by constructing a windmill attached to a dynamo to light his cottage in his home village of Marykirk, Scotland in 1887.  He offered to allow his current to be used to light the main street of the village, but superstitious residents reportedly considered the mysterious electric light to be “the work of the devil“!

The Ups and Downs of Industrial Wind Generation

 A day in the life of industrial wind turbines in Ontario

On November 11th Ontarians were treated to the up and down vagaries of IWT (industrial wind turbines) spread throughout the province. They did a great job exhibiting their spasms and inability to generate power when needed but cranked it out when unneeded. A few examples over the day follow!

Hour 1

At Hour 1, IESO forecast IWT would generate 3,936 MW but only accepted 3,253 MWh on the grid so we should assume the difference (683 MW) was curtailed at a cost of $120/MWh allocated to ratepayers.  The market price (HOEP) was 0.00/MWh over the hour as we supplied Michigan, New York, and Quebec with 2,428 MWh. The 2,428 MWh represented 74.6% of the above noted grid accepted IWT generation so clearly wasn’t needed but, we ratepayers picked up their costs of over $327,000.  To drive the point home IWT frequently generate power when its unneeded! Ontario’s peak demand in Hour 1 was only 12,591 MW and could have been easily supplied by nuclear and hydro alone but the “first-to -the-grid rights allotted to IWT companies usurps our other generation sources! Hydro at that hour generated only 3,307 MWh, their lowest hourly generation for the day!

Hour 4

Moving on to Hour 4 (hour ending at 4 AM) IESO reported it as the lowest Ontario peak demand hour (12,095 MW) for the day and those IWT were still humming and forecast to generate 2,938 MW. IESO accepted 2,718 MW (22.5% of demand) and sold off 2,497 MW (91.9% of accepted IWT generation) to the same Hour 1 buyers for the princely sum of $3.49/MWh generating $8,714.53 of revenue but it cost (assuming it was all IWT generation) us Ontarians $337,095.00 without including curtailed costs.

Hours 1 to 7

Hours 1 to 7 saw IESO forecast IWT generation of 19,866 MW (58% of their capacity) and 17,884 MW was accepted while exporting 16,422 MW (91.8% of IWT grid accepted generation). The HOEP average was $8.90/MWh for those 7 hours meaning if those exports were either all IWT generated power (very likely) or caused by them the net cost to Ontario ratepayers was: $1,963,000 (16,422 MW X $135 plus 1,982 MW [curtailed] X $120 minus 16,422 MW X $8.90) for those 7 hours!

Hours 8 to 19

As the day progressed Ontario peak hourly demand increased while generation from IWT fell and at Hour 18 they only supplied 267 MW or 1.5% of Ontario’s daily peak demand of 17,237 MW! IWT failure at that hour to provide generation meant “net imports” were 1,004 MW as we purchased power from Quebec and even some from Michigan.  We paid an average of $46.93/MWh for that imported power greatly exceeding the cost of our sales to them in the middle of the night when those IWT were generating power we didn’t need.  As IWT generation fell the HOEP market price climbed and from hours 8 to 19 averaged $50.12/MWh a vast improvement from the early morning prices.

Hour 17 and hours 20 to 24

IWT generation at Hour 17 was at its lowest for the day generating only 240 MW but it started to ramp up slowly and by hour 20 was generating five times what it generated at hour 17.  For hours 20 to 24 IESO accepted 10,357 MW as peak demand fell and exports climbed.  Needless to say, as demand fell over the final five hours IWT generation increased while the HOEP fell from $34.40/MWh during Hour 20 to $2.11/MWh in Hour 24 as our unneeded generation from those IWT climbed!

The “first-to-the-grid” rights granted to the IWT owners by the Ontario McGuinty/Wynne led government(s) continue to burden us ratepayers with costs as the foregoing clearly demonstrates! As it turned out November 11th, 2022, captured the intermittency and unreliable nature of IWT over a 24 hour period clearly demonstrating how they operate not just daily but, weekly, monthly and annually! 

Based on what Ontarians and many others around the world are currently experiencing, due to the unreliable and intermittent nature of those “windmills”, we should, perhaps reconsider the events from 135 years ago! Eco-warriors around the world have pushed to have IWT replace reliable electricity generation from fossil fuels in their push for “net-zero” so perhaps the label by the residents of Marykirk, Scotland in 1887 should be resurrected and applied to IWT but not the electric light.

Perhaps it really is the “work of the devil” posing as an eco-warrior out to save the world from “climate change” that brought on the push for those intermittent and unreliable IWT! 

Avoided Blackouts! Is IESO a Great Weather Forecaster or Simply Using Historical Climate Cycles?

In case you missed it, Ontario was without almost 5,000 MW of “baseload” power over the past month and to the best of my knowledge we didn’t suffer from even one blackout, nor did we receive appeals from our local distribution company to reduce our use of electricity!

As the headline implies; IESO (Independent Electricity Supply Operator) is either a superlative weather forecaster OR they examined Ontario’s climate cycles to determine when Ontario’s electricity demand is at its lowest levels over the year?  Did they also examine when those “intermittent and unreliable” renewable energy sources such as IWT (industrial wind turbines) generate power at higher levels than they commonly do on hot summer days?

Coincidently, IWT grid connected capacity is about 4,900 MW so very close to what the nuclear capacity shut down was. The shutdown included the capacity of all of Pickering Nuclear (3,100 MW) plus a Bruce unit (830 MW) and a Darlington unit (870 MW).

Reviewing the Past Four Weeks

It has now been 28 days since Pickering Nuclear was shut down for the VBO (vacuum building outage); a process done every 12 years and requiring approximately four weeks to complete.  The Pickering units have commenced coming back online and most should be up and running by the start of next week.  The Bruce unit has also restarted and is ramping up as I write this article.

Looking back over the 28 days (October 6th to November 2nd) at data is an interesting exercise and demonstrates IESO chose an excellent time to allow the nuclear shutdowns as Ontario’s peak demand only occasionally was more than 16,500 MW and far below (5,000 MW) what we often see during summer months.  As examples; the 10th highest Ontario peak demand day in 2022 (so far) was 21,379 MW at Hour 17 on July 21st and the highest was Hour 18 on July 19th  at 22,607 MW!

The other interesting fact about IESO’s choice of when to bless the shutdown is related to when IWT mainly generate their intermittent power and in Ontario it is during the spring and fall months. A quick review of the power generated over the 28 days demonstrates their highs and lows.  As examples IWT generation on October 10th and November 1st was only about 10,000 MWh representing a meagre 8.5% of their capacity but on October 12th they generated 80,000 MWh (68% of capacity) and on the 21st they produced 82,000 MWh or 70% of their capacity. Over the entire 28 days they generated approximately 1.2 TWh (terawatt hours) which represented about 37% of their capacity and 7% higher than their average annual capacity normally in the 29/30% range.  

During those 28 days our natural gas generation sources ramped up and down as required to ensure we avoided blackouts. As just two examples; related to those very low IWT generation days, of October 10th and November 1st, gas plants generated 42,000 MWh and 76,000 MWh respectively!  At the same time IESO also appeared to ramp up hydro generation and that may well be the reason the US Army Corp of Engineers report, as of yesterday stated; “Lake Ontario is below its long-term November monthly average level by 7 inches”. As noted in the preceding paragraph when those IWT were only generating 8.5% of their capacity on the two days hydro delivered 97,000 MWh on October 10th and 112,000 MWh on November 1st!  Additionally, IESO were also importing power from Quebec, Michigan and New York and on November 2nd IWT only generated 11,000 MWh and for 23 of those 24 hours we imported more than we exported due to Ontario peak demand reaching 16,636 MW at Hour 19!

Looking Ahead

As I pen this article my inclination is to visit IESO data and in doing so one discovers today (November 5, 2022) is apparently a great day for the IWT owners as they are reaping the benefits of lots of wind together with the fact over 2300 MW of nuclear base load power is back and generating at levels we haven’t seen for a month. With the wind blowing hard those IWT could have delivered about 65,000 MWh (including the 8,500 MW curtailed) in the first 18 hours of today, but they clearly weren’t needed. That fact reflected itself in the HOEP (hourly Ontario electricity price) market price which averaged only $6/MWh in those 18 hours.  Over those hours net exports were 33,500 MWh (51% of IWT curtailed and accepted generation) so income from the sale of those was a piddly $201K but if we assume the exports were all IWT generated we paid the operators $5.1 million so it cost us ratepayers/taxpayers $4.9 million! 

The foregoing suggests the good news evident from the nuclear baseload outage is the HOEP was generally in the $40/$50 range so by IESO scheduling the VBO for Pickering and the refurbishment for the other two units it appeared to save us ratepayers and taxpayers tens of millions of dollars over the 28 days.  Had they been scheduled for the summer or the winter when demand is higher, and IWT generation is frequently absent we would surely have had numerous blackouts or requests to stop or reduce our consumption from our local distribution company.

Conclusion

It seems obvious IESO simply looked back at their data and determined IWT have habitually generated unneeded power in the fall due to what are apparently normal repetitive climate characteristics in Ontario. 

The Federal and Provincial Governments Hit Us with Luxury Taxes to Heat Our Homes  

As winter approaches one can’t help but notice the increasing number of articles pointing out how energy required to heat our homes has become a significant and concerning news issue. The articles point out the cost of natural gas, furnace oil and propane have increased along with the numerous taxes levied on them by the Federal and provincial governments and is driving up fuel poverty.

Here in North America, we have been observing the panic ensuing the UK, Germany, and other European countries as their move to green their energy supply to meet the elusive “net-zero” target has darkened the future for households and businesses.  They have discovered without fossil fuels to back up intermittent wind and solar many countries will see from 40 to 60% of households experience “energy poverty” and many businesses face closure through bankruptcy or via movement to countries with lower energy prices. Employment will no doubt rise, and inflation will continue it’s upward move!

Fortunately, North America hasn’t been as badly affected as Europe, however, it will not be an easy winter for many Canadian households and particularly those depending on fossil fuels to keep their house warm in our cold winters. While Canada has not experienced the incredible increases Europe has, in the price of those fuels, we nevertheless have been affected negatively by much higher market prices of natural gas, furnace oil and propane despite our abundant supply of those fuels in the form of oil and natural gas. We have also been negatively affected by increasing taxes levied by the Federal government and sales taxes increasing as they are applied to the increased costs of those fuels.

In Canada approximately 50% of all households (6 million) heat with natural gas, 7% with furnace oil (850,000 households) and just over 1% (150,000) with propane. As all of those are fossil fuels or derivatives; the Federal “carbon taxes” apply, as well as provincial and federal sales taxes. We should note the latter (sales taxes) are also applied on the Federal carbon tax, so they become “a tax on a tax”! The carbon tax is currently set at $50/tonne and is scheduled to rise to $65/tonne on April 1, 2023 and will continue to rise annually reaching $170/tonne in 2030.

Having read several articles, the decision was made to determine how households will be affected in the upcoming winter months; by reviewing both the cost of the fuels (natural gas, propane, and furnace oil) and the taxes applied on them at their increased market price.  According to the OEB (Ontario Energy Board) “Historical natural gas rates“ have increased 115% from late October 2021 to late October 2022 whereas NRCAN (Natural Resources Canada), suggests furnace oil has increased by 57.5% and propane by 20% over the same timeframe.

Because our household uses natural gas it is relatively easy to review a monthly bill from the past 2021/2022 winter to determine how much it will increase should we consume the same amount for a 2022/2023 winter bill.  I will leave it to other households heating with furnace oil or propane to review the potential upcoming costs to heat their home this coming winter!

It is worth pointing out; in Ontario* the OEB set price adjustments (natural gas only) on a quarterly basis, so the year-over-year comparison may be modestly affected!  If our household consumes the same amount of natural gas the fuel costs and the associated taxes levied will result in our monthly bill increasing by approximately 74.5%.  Fuel costs will represent 29.6% of the upcoming bill and taxes 30.7% versus 33.2% and 26.7% in the prior year should all the other related costs remain static. 

Please note the foregoing discloses despite those fuel costs climbing considerably; Federal and Provincial taxes will climb faster!

One should take note when Ontario published their March 31, 2022 financial results, sales tax revenue had increased $3.8 billion from 2021 and were $2.8 billion over their forecast and surely played a role in allowing them to claim a budgetary surplus of $2.1 billion. Obviously, a lot of that revenue came from taxes on our energy bills and one should assume the Federal government also benefited greatly via their various tax levies on those fossil fuels we consumed to heat our homes.

It is apparent our two levels of governments seem to believe it is a luxury to heat our homes using fossil fuels based on their continuing levels of increasing taxation.  Time for them to recognize heating our homes during our cold winters in Canada is not a luxury!

*67.2% of Ontario households heat with natural gas.

Blackouts on the Horizon for Ontario?

The OCAA (Ontario Clean Air Alliance) joined with Environmental Defence and 23 other eco-warriors to sign a letter dated October 26, 2022 addressed to PM Trudeau and copied to Ministers Guibeault and Wilkinson. Needless to say, the letter is full of claptrap claiming: “Ontario can avoid the need for new gas plants and lower its electricity costs by up to $290 billion by investing in zero-carbon options to keep our lights on, including solar power, energy storage and smart efficiency programs.”

It is obvious those who claim those “lower electricity costs” fail to recognize the intermittent and unreliable nature of wind and solar “zero-carbon options” that can easily lead to rolling blackouts.

The foregoing was demonstrated via IESO data yesterday (October 27, 2022) as at Hour 1 those IWT (industrial wind turbines) were busy and generated 2,766 MWh (56% of their capacity) when Ontario’s  demand was very low at only 12,021 MW. By Hour 15 with demand at 14,210 MW those IWT generated a miserly 45 MWh or less than 1% of their capacity.  If we were in mid July or August demand at Hour 15 would have been in the 18,000/20,000 MW range so without gas plants or the 3,000 MW of Pickering Nuclear; currently offline for a VBO (vacuum building outage) we would have experienced blackouts throughout the province.

 Ontario’s peak Hour for October 27th came at Hour 19 reaching 16,592 MW and while IWT had ramped up a little they only managed to generate 279 MWh or 5.7% of their capacity and 1.7% of demand.  As one would surmise, solar was absent at Hour 1 and absent at Hour 19. At Hour 15 Ontario’s natural gas plants were generating 1,910 MW, hydro 4,007 MW and nuclear 6,628 MW and at Hour 19 they were respectively generating 2,604 MW, 4,983 MW and 6,642 MW.  Hour 15 also had IESO importing 1,703 MW, principally from Quebec but by Hour 19 we were importing 2,763 MW (16.7% of demand) from Michigan, NY and Quebec and even a little from Manitoba.  Thankfully those imports, coupled with gas and hydro generation saved us from rolling blackouts but as Quebec is a winter peaking province, we shouldn’t anticipate they can supply us during high demand winter days so hopefully the 3,000 MW of Pickering nuclear will be available on the upcoming cold winter days!

As an aside hydro has been a major source of generation during the Pickering VBO and perhaps is the reason Lake Ontario is currently 23 centimetres below it’s average level as noted by the US Army Corps of Engineers despite recent heavy rainfalls.  This heavy hydro generation could well mean it will be less available during the coming winter so we should pray for Pickering’s return to action and for those gas plants to be at the ready.  Also, as noted above, Quebec is a winter peaking province and Hydro Quebec encourages all their customers to be mindful of that, telling them: “In very cold weather, it’s best to reduce your electricity use during peak periods to avoid putting more pressure on the grid.“

IWT and solar cannot be counted on to deliver power when it is needed due to it’s intermittent and unreliable nature.  At the same time those politicians, et al, should become cognizant of the fact our neighbouring sources of imported power cannot be counted on to deliver what we may need to keep the lights on and our businesses operating during cold winter days or hot summer ones.

In summary, yesterday should be recognized by our politicians as a fortunate occurrence as we avoided a blackout. They should ignore the cultists such as those charities like the OCAA or Environmental Defence who continually fail to conduct proper research and push their net-zero” emissions are bad agenda!

Many well accredited scientists have shown conclusively that mankind’s emissions have little effect on Mother Nature’s climate events!