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!

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. 

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!

Unreliable Generation from Wind Generation

Yesterday October 22, 2022, those IWT (industrial wind turbines) demonstrated their intermittent and unreliable traits.  As is often the case in the Spring and Fall those IWT were humming but those seasons are when Ontario’s demand is at it’s lowest and yesterday was no exception as peak demand occurring at Hour 18, was only 15,242 MW.  

Wind at Hour 18 generated 3,037 MW or almost 20% of peak demand and for the full day generated about 79,100 MW with their (potential) peak generation at Hour 6 when they were forecast to generate 4,079 MWh. It appears at that hour, about 400 MW were curtailed. In addition to what was accepted by IESO into the grid IWT also curtailed around 3,700 MW over the full day.  If one does the math (79,100 MWh grid accepted + 3,700 MWh curtailed = 82,800 MWh) and multiplying the accepted MW X $135 and curtailed MW X $120 you see the full cost of IWT for the day was around $11,124,000 or an average of $140.63MWh (14.1 cents/kWh).

If one goes further and looks at net exports (exports minus imports), we note 40,619 MWh went to our neighbours in Michigan, NY, Quebec.  It is reasonable to assume those MWh sold were caused by the excess and unneeded IWT generation and what they were sold for, considering their costs, as noted in the preceding paragraph was somewhat shocking.  The average HOEP (hourly Ontario energy price) market price over the 24 hours was $13.26/MWh (1.3 cent/kWh) meaning the loss (based on the average price paid for the IWT generation less the revenue earned from their sale) represented a one-day cost to ratepayers of close to $5.2 million.

What makes the loss rather staggering is the fact that 3,000 MW of our baseload capacity (Pickering Nuclear) is down and going through a VBO (vacuum building outage) to ensure the integrity of the equipment and infrastructure.  Had Pickering been in service all the IWT generation would have been surplus to our needs and most of it would have been curtailed or sold for a few pennies! That would have represented a one-day cost of over $10 million for NOTHING!

With the above facts in mind, we Ontario ratepayers should all try to imagine how, or if, that surplus IWT generation could have been stored for our future needs during those upcoming cold winter days when peak demand is in the 20,000 MW range and those IWT are not spinning. We would need a mess of batteries and they are only capable of storing power for about four hours of demand!

Without Pickering Nuclear, Ontarians could be facing blackouts when of if they fail to receive approval for an extension or, natural gas generation is shut down by 2030 as proposed by 34 municipalities who have signed on to the OCAA push endorsing the “gas power phase out”. 

In respect to the latter perhaps consideration should allow those 34 municipalities to be delinked on the grids sending natural gas generation to them effective December 31, 2029.  If their municipal leaders have any common sense a promise to do that might trigger them to do some research to learn a little more about Ontario’s electricity generation sources and raise some real concerns.

In the interim perhaps we simply rephrase what Albertan’s rejuvenated when the last Trudeau was PM from, “Let the eastern bastards freeze in the dark” to: “Let the 34 municipalities phasing out natural gas freeze in the dark.”  

Wind Peeks at Peak Hour on October 16th

Should anyone still believe IWT (industrial wind turbines) are both reliable and will generate power  when it’s needed they should have a look at IESO data from the 16th of October when Ontario’s “peak demand” occurred at Hour 19 reaching a very low 15,329 MW.

The peak hour of IWT generation occurred at Hour 8 reaching 1,855 MWh but in Hour 19 it had fallen considerably from Hour 8 and only generated 348 MWh (2.3% of demand) meaning it didn’t show up when it was needed.  As it happened, at that hour Ontario had net imports of 1,203 MWh that came from Michigan and Quebec (principally).  We should know and anticipate IWT will demonstrate the same attitude during those cold winter day when peak demand is in the 20,000 MW range. Imports from Quebec will likely be unavailable as its peak demand period is winter based as most Quebec households heat with electricity. Hydro Quebec during winter days asks ratepayers to reduce their consumption.

It is also worth noting solar generation at Hour 19 was zero as one should suspect and will continue to produce less power generation in the coming winter months. Thankfully last Sunday at the peak hour hydro generated 5,075 MWh (close to its peak of 5,121 MWh in hour 20) and natural gas provided 2,801 MWh, down from its peak generation of 3,440 MWh during Hour 17.

What Hour 19 on October 16th demonstrates is wind is clearly unreliable and very intermittent and without nuclear, hydro and natural gas we Ontario ratepayers would have experienced blackouts even though peak demand was very low.

The time has come to recognize IWT and Solar will not produce anything close to what is needed if the push for full “electrification” continues. 

The road to “net-zero” is paved with bad outcomes and it’s time for our elected politicians to recognize that fact.

IESO, Great Weather Forecasting or Simply History Repeating Itself

We ratepayers and taxpayers must assume IESO, who control the Ontario electricity grid, look at weather forecasts daily as they post data with hourly forecasted generation we will get from wind and solar over the 24 hours. They don’t do that for baseload generation such as nuclear and hydro or even natural gas but do for the two intermittent and unreliable sources of electricity.

The question becomes did IESO look at longer term weather forecasts confident IWT (industrial wind turbines) would replace the baseload of the 3,000 MW capacity of Pickering Nuclear (related to the VBO [Vacuum Building Outage])?  Then again, on October 13th, did IESO bless Bruce Nuclear closure of their G8 unit with a capacity of 800 MW for maintenance (?) confident we ratepayers would have sufficient power? 

Suddenly Ontario is without baseload capacity of about 3,800 MW (about what 3 million average Ontario households consume daily) but no problems or worries about rolling blackouts or smart meter control to reduce consumption. IWT have apparently stepped in to fill the gap. 

Looking at the past three days clearly demonstrates how IWT are intermittent but not just hourly, as has been obvious from reviewing their generation since the first of them were planted in rural communities in the province.  Their proven habits in the past decade have shown their generation is skewed with lots of generation in the Spring and Fall when demand is low but come hot summer days or very cold winter days when peak demand is often well over 20,000 MW they hardly show up.

October 12th IWT generated over 74,000 MWh and had another 5,000 MWh curtailed meaning they could have operated at over 67% of capacity. Peak demand reached 16,290 MW at hour 19.  October  13th they generated about 42,500 MWh and had only about 500 MWh curtailed so combined; operated at over 36% of capacity.  Peak demand again occurred at hour 19 reaching 16,277 MW. On October 14th those IWT were still humming generating 55,500 MWh and had another 7,900 MWh curtailed so combined they operated at 53.9% of rated capacity. Ontario’s peak hour once again struck at hour 19 reaching only 15,444 MW.  Over those three days IWT operated at an average of 52.6% of capacity whereas over a full year they average in the range of 29/30%.

The positive outcome from the missing 3,800 MW of baseload was the HOEP remained at reasonable market levels whereas if one looks at past HOEP averages it was $13.90/MWh in 2020 and $28.50/MWh in 2021.  What that suggests is Class B ratepayers/taxpayers reduced their subsidization of our surplus exports and Class A customers.  This current lack of the 3,800 MW of baseload power will help to drive up the HOEP continuing the drop in our subsidies.  The negative is our manufacturing sector will experience higher costs for their electricity consumption.

In summary we should be confident IESO, by allowing the nuclear shutdowns, were not forecasting weather events over the next month or more.  IESO were simply looking at data from the past which consistently shows the large drop in demand during our Spring and Fall seasons and based on past bad habits were confident those IWT would do as they have done for most years. They also knew those natural gas plants were at the ready when the wind isn’t blowing.

We will need that baseload power back operating when the cold weather is upon us in the coming winter as those IWT will once again show us how they are missing in action when needed.

It sure appears IESO has looked back and is confident history will repeat itself!

NB:  The first 13 hours of October 15th indicate IWT generation plus curtailed power has them operating at 77.9% of capacity collectively showing 49,614 MWh.

Pickering Nuclear Vacuum Building Outage (VBO), a Look at the Future, or a Demonstration of Ontario’s Energy Vulnerability?

Many around Ontario are probably unaware all the units at the Pickering Nuclear plant have been shut down to perform an VBO.  A VBO is usually conducted on a periodic basis for the purpose of confirming the integrity of the equipment and infrastructure of the vacuum buildings.  In the past, VBOs have been cycled with one or two units out for three to four weeks in the Spring or Fall when Ontario’s “peak demand” is generally low, but the wind is frequently blowing.  On this occasion OPG has apparently shut down all the Pickering Nuclear* units for the VBO. 

The question becomes: is it the intention to demonstrate the viability of extending their life or to show the vulnerability of the energy system without the approximately 3,000 MW capacity of Pickering or both?

Since all the units have been fully shut down (the last units were shut early on October 6th), IESO data clearly shows even though Ontario peak hourly demand on October 6th was only 16,375 MW and 16,303 MW on the 7th we were importing significant power from Quebec. We imported the power despite the fact IWT (industrial wind turbines) eventually ran well above their annual average of about 30% of capacity and natural gas peaked at Hour 11 on the 6th at 3,147 MW while wind was on an upward move and generated 925 MW.

On the 6th, Quebec supplied 22,354 MWh and on the 7th we imported 26,731 MWh from them. As a matter of interest, the latter is about what 1,000,000 average Ontario households consume daily.  It is worth pointing out Quebec is a “winter peaking” province principally due to the fact most households in the province heat with electric powered furnaces or baseboard heaters. Hydro Quebec therefore asks their customers to reduce demand during cold winter periods. For that reason, Ontario may well find its neighbour unable to supply any power during the winter so it would be expected Ontario might experience rolling blackouts without the Pickering units up and running.

The other interesting fact is; the HOEP (hourly Ontario energy price) market price over the two days has averaged over $60/MWh which will presumably affect the ICI (Industrial Conservation Initiative) ie: even picking some or all the top five peak hours over the year may not generate the same savings as in the past for those companies using a minimum of 500 KW per hour or as much or more then 5 MW per hour should the HOEP climb further.

From all appearances it seems the intention of the Pickering Nuclear shutdown for VBO purposes is clearly to signal the necessity of retaining the 3,000 MW of their capacity or subject the province to potential rolling blackouts as California has experienced.

The full “electrification” of the province as advocated by the Ford led Ontario Conservative Party may not be looking like the shining star to make the eco-warriors happy while bringing grief to the rest of us Ontarians.  The Ford led government should remember we Ontario voters went through a similar experience under the Ontario Liberal Party and turned them into the “minivan” party and it was related to the “energy” file!

We should hope Ford and his Minister of Energy, Todd Smith have seen the light about the “net-zero” push and realize it may be the train in the tunnel heading for us Ontarians and will wipe out their current majority come the next election! 

*I was informed by two knowledgeable engineers the Pickering Units must all go through the VBO process at the same time.

Winds Absence is a Good Thing as October 4, 2022, Demonstrates

Anyone who read the short article about the output of those IWT (industrial wind turbines) on October 2nd when they operated at 52% of their capacity for the first 16 hours and cost us Ontario ratepayers/taxayers several million dollars for unneeded generation will be pleased with what happened yesterday!

Over the full 24 hours yesterday IWT were basically useless generating only 2,322 MW which was less than 2% of their capacity and averaged less than 100 MW per hour!  Who knows, they may have been consuming more power than they produced?

The good news for Ontarians was the HOEP (hourly Ontario energy price) market price was fairly robust and over the 24 hours averaged $57.32/MWh versus the $1.57/MWh they averaged over the first 16 hours on the 2nd meaning our losses on exported power (which was much less) was tiny in comparison.

One of the issues also impacting the price was total consumption was higher as was the peak Ontario demand hour which was Hour 19 reaching 16,753 MW versus the 15,320 MW at Hour 20 on October 2nd.  This latter point drives up demand for surplus generation when those intermittent and unreliable IWT fall flat meaning our neighbours in NY, Michigan and Quebec pay much higher prices for any power including that which may be surplus to our demand. The other good part of the foregoing is related to the cost paid for any exported natural gas generation as the price we pay is only fuel costs plus a small additional price per kWh (kilowatt hour). The latter is well below the average cost we pay daily per kWh!

We need more days like yesterday to stop the accumulation of taxpayer debt under the Ontario Electricity Rebate (OER) program which the Ford government launched.  The FAO (Financial Accountability Office) estimated the OER will cost taxpayers $38.6 billion over the full remaining term of the renewable energy (wind, solar and biomass) contracts.

Perhaps the Ford government via the creation of the OER believes an electricity consumer and a taxpayer are two different individuals, but they are generally one and the same. 

One would hope they will soon recognize the foregoing fact and rethink the push for net-zero due to its impact on current and future taxpayers and ratepayers.