Quebeckers are Hopefully Grateful for Ontario’s Natural Gas Plants

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

February 2, 2023

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

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

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

February 3, 2023

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

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

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

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

Quebec Support

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Battery Storage Would Cost Ontario Billions to Replace Natural Gas Generation on December 20, 2022

Ontario’s Minister of Energy, Todd Smith should think seriously about December 20th and contemplate; if we were without natural gas generation, how would the province have avoided blackouts?  What would we need to have in place to provide the 124,792 MWh (what 4.1 million average Ontario households consume daily) our gas plants supplied on that December day?

More wind, more solar?  If he picked those two intermittent and unreliable sources, we would need a multiple of at least five times current capacity. Even then, if they only generated five times the 232 MWh, they did at Hour 3, we would have experienced a blackout in the middle of the night during a low demand hour. Natural gas generators at that hour produced 4,003 MWh (26.8% of demand).

Throughout the day grid connected wind generated about 21,000 MWh and solar 547 MWh. At peak demand, Hour 18 ending at 6 PM, wind generation neared its peak for the day generating 1,341 MWh (6.8% of demand) whereas our gas plants generated 6,033 MWh or 30.4% of peak demand. Because demand was relatively high and wind failed to generate less than an average of 900 MW per hour the market price (HOEP) averaged $82.88/MWh over the day so the 39,000 MW we sold to our neighbours in NY, Michigan and Quebec generated a reasonable price compared to days when the wind is blowing hard and the sun is shining.

If Smith said hydro, it would be sensible, however Ontario has pretty well exhausted its hydro sources near population centers so that’s not an option. We would need to open up the northern reaches of the province and spend billions of tax dollars to build roads, transmission systems and the hydro plants themselves to get the power to where its needed. Not feasible for well over a decade!

Nuclear would be a good and logical source, however the only possible new nuclear we might get in the next 10 years is a 300 MW capacity SMR (small modular reactor) now in the planning stage by OPG.

What’s left then for him to contemplate is either hydrogen or storage. The former is still in early test stages and unlikely to be scaled up for a decade or more. Despite the foregoing the push for it by many European countries is on as they view it as the solution to achieving “net-zero”.  The big concern about hydrogen is associated with possible leaks as a recent article noted: “Scientists have warned that hydrogen could be a significant “indirect” contributor to the greenhouse effect when it leaks through infrastructure and interacts with methane in the atmosphere.

One should wonder does Minister Smith have a belief “storage” is the option and if so, how much will be needed?  In the near term he seems to have somewhat recognized the fallibility of our electricity system as his Ministerial Directive of October 6, 2022 directs IESO to secure a minimum of 1,500 MW of storage generation and a maximum of 1,500 MW of natural gas generation.  On the former he had already directed IESO to negotiate a 250 MW battery storage contract with Oneida on August 27, 2022 despite the need for a cost/benefit study as noted in a earlier article.

Minister Smith had also asked IESO to prepare a plan to allow Ontario’s electricity system to be fully “decarbonized” by 2050 and in their response titled: “The Pathways to Decarbonization” they included 2,507 MW of storage capacity in 2035.

The full costs of that capacity will be in excess of $2.4 billion based on a recent well researched article suggesting battery costs are a minimum of US$700K (CA$950K) per MW of capacity. Battery storage capacity results in about only 80% of it as being available when it’s needed on the grid, but, it can deliver the rated capacity for three hours.  That means 2,507 MW of battery storage at a capital cost of $2.4 billion could deliver approximately 6,000 MWh before having to reload.

Now, if we consider the generation provided by Ontario’s natural gas plants on December 20, 2022, one notes we would need twenty-one times more battery storage to generate the almost 125,000 MWh they delivered. The capital cost would be astronomical and amount to about $50 billion. Repaid over the 10-year lifespan of the batteries (including a profit margin of 10%), it would result in adding $5.5 billion of annual costs to ratepayer bills. 

What the IESO chart suggests is natural gas capacity coupled with; “New Capacity Online by 2035” in the form of; Demand Response, Solar, Wind and new Nuclear, we will not need additional storage.  Let’s hope their forecast is accurate despite the “Disclosure” on Page 2 stating:

The information, statements and conclusions in this report are subject to risks, uncertainties and other factors that could cause actual results or circumstances to differ materially from the report’s findings. The IESO provides no guarantee, representation, or warranty, express or implied, with respect to any statement or information in this report and disclaims any liability in connection with it.”

The 2035 scenario depicted by IESO also contained the following suggesting they had some faith in part of their report: “New large hydroelectric and nuclear facilities were not selected due to lead times that extended beyond the horizon of this scenario. As firm imports from Québec would require resource development in that province, they proved to be costly and were also not selected. Finally, with 2,500 MW of battery energy-storage systems included in the base supply mix, the value of additional storage diminished, hindering its selection.

Hmm, kind of makes one wonder if the “Pathways” report is delivering what Minister Smith has in mind?

An article written by Allison Jones of the Canadian Press and dated December 26, 2022 reputedly confirmed Minister Smith’s directive to IESO to obtain the additional 1,500 MW of natural gas generation along with the “2,500 megawatts of clean technology such as energy storage”. The article went on to claim, “Smith said in an interview that it’s the largest active procurement for energy storage in North America.“ Another quote in the article came from Katherine Sparkes, IESO’s director of innovation who apparently said: 

As we look to the future and think about gas phase-out and electrification, one of the great challenges facing all energy systems in North America and around the world is: How do you address the increasing amounts of variable, renewable energy? resources and just make better use of your grid resources,” she said.

“Hybrids, storage-generator pairings, give you the ability to deal with the variability of renewable energy, meaning storing electricity when the sun isn’t shining or the wind not blowing, and then using it when you need it.” 

We ratepayers should all be troubled if the foregoing is a quote from IESO’s director of innovation! In that position she should know if the sun isn’t shining, or the wind isn’t blowing there is no energy that can be stored! 

On the other hand, if it’s a misquote by the author of the article, its what we have come to expect from the MSM reporters who seem to frequently fail to do any fact checking. The latter is evident in other parts of the article where obtuse comments are made and accepted with one of them suggesting their company will “make power plants obsolete” using EV and another suggesting “the provincial and federal governments need to fund and install bidirectional chargers in order to fully take advantage of electric vehicles.” No indication was in the article as to what sources of energy would be used to power up those EV batteries nor does the author question those making the statements.

It is readily apparent the author of the article failed to either question those interviewed or to seek other views that might challenge their claims.  Unfortunately, investigative journalism is no longer within the purview of those associated with the mainstream media.

Conclusion

Natural gas is a fossil fuel that benefits mankind in many ways and the cold December day we Ontario residents recently experienced clearly demonstrated how it is needed until something better comes along. It is self-evident the “something better” is clearly not battery storage.

Let’s turn up the heat on our Ministry of Energy and the many reporters in the media who message us with the propaganda perpetrated by those who want us to freeze in the dark!

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!

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.”  

Hydro One Signals Full Electrification May Be Just Around the Corner?

Hydro One Survey

Hydro One is surveying their customers throughout the province and the “survey questions” suggest they are trying to determine where grid upgrades will be required as the push by our politicians for “full electrification” gains speed.  The survey asks questions such as, are you planning on purchasing an EV or converting your gas or furnace oil heating system to electric in certain time periods. They require the supply of both your e-mail address as well as your area code which presumably will signal them as to where grid upgrades may be required.

When you purchase that EV you will need a 200-amp service electrical panel for the charger meaning the wires and associated transformers bringing electricity to our homes will need upgrading as well as your homes electrical panel and the latter will cost you a few thousand dollars. Upgrades will be required in places where several homes have purchased EV or added electricity demand to the system.

It seems as if Hydro One is planning for an upcoming future demand increase which will allow them to tell the OEB and the Ontario Ministry of Energy the costs associated with the “electrification” process.  In other words, they are reviewing cost/benefit attributes of the conversions mandated by our politicians because “fossil fuels”, in the politician’s minds, are evil and cause global warming!

One would have thought those shining lights we elected Federally and Provincially would have done a cost/benefit study before they considered “full electrification” but perhaps that is too much for us voting minions to expect. 

While the Hydro One survey appears directed to just their 1.5 million distribution customers, we should suspect they are also seeking input from all electric distribution companies such as Toronto Hydro, Hydro Ottawa, etc. etc. as electrification will also substantially impact their transmission business.  

It is worth noting the following from Hydro One’s 2021 annual financial statement reflecting their impact on ALL electricity ratepayers in the province due to their transmission monopoly:  “Hydro One Limited, through its wholly-owned subsidiaries, is Ontario’s largest electricity transmission and distribution provider with approximately 1.5 million valued customers, approximately $30.4 billion in assets as at December 31, 2021, and annual revenues in 2021 of approximately $7.2 billion.“  Net income (before financing charges and taxes) from Hydro One’s transmission business was $942 million and exceeded distribution net income by $248 million or 24.8%.

Hydro One owns and operates over 30,000 KM of transmission lines (98% of all transmission lines) in the province and delivers the power to 43 local distribution companies (LDC) and 88 large, connected companies.  They also operate over 300 transmission stations and 25 cross border connections.

Full electrification will entail billions of dollars of spending for upgrades to those transmission stations and transmission lines should the Provincial and Federal governments continue the push for electrification.

The spending of billions by Hydro One to upgrade Hydro One’s transmission system coupled with the billions spent by the LDC to upgrade their delivery of electricity to your household or business will obviously drive up the cost of each kWh (kilowatt) you consume.  At the same time try to imagine the costs of additional “emission free” generation NB: that will need to be added to the grid. The cost of storage (battery and pumped hydro, etc.) more wind and solar generation and perhaps new nuclear and electricity rates will climb even higher.

 All one has to do is look at the UK and Europe where spiraling inflation has been mainly driven by rising energy costs and taxpayer subsidies have become the norm in an attempt to keep household residents from freezing in the dark and businesses from closing while various countries run up huge annual fiscal deficits.

We should expect the same here in Ontario and the rest of Canada should our politicians continue on the path to save the world from “climate change”!

Hydro One’s survey should signal our politicians where we may be heading but perhaps that is too much common sense for them to appreciate.

NB: The following is from a recent exchange with the Ontario Ministry of Energy with my observation:  NREL, a national laboratory of the US Department of Energy, in their study stated, “Widespread electrification increases 2050 U.S. electricity consumption by 20% and 38% in the medium and high adoption scenarios, respectively and relative to the reference.” For Ontario let’s focus on the “medium scenario!  At the end of 2021 IESO reported total grid connected capacity in Ontario was 38,079 MW. If we assume Pickering Nuclear gets approval to extend its life that reflects the need to add 7,600 MW of NEW capacity (20% of 2021 capacity) or 10,600 MW (28%) should Pickering renewal not receive the green light! Please note the study states “consumption” which means both wind and solar plus storage would need to be at least triple that capacity level!

Wind Generated Electricity’s Big Fall Discount for Our Neighbours

Yesterday, October 2nd, 2022, once again, demonstrated how IWT (industrial wind turbines) generate wasted costs for Ontario ratepayers and taxpayers. Their “first-to-the-grid” rights is akin to us simply going outside and throwing our after-tax dollars into the wind! The contracts IWT owners have continues to drive up our energy costs due to their propensity to deliver unneeded power more frequently than they deliver “needed” generation! Reliable Power is not something we should expect from IWT as is again evidenced by how they perform!

During the first 16 hours yesterday the IWT were humming and produced 32,400 MW and also had another 8,300 MW curtailed which collectively was about 52% of their capacity. Combined those IWT owners will see $5.470 million delivered to their bank accounts for those 16 hours as they are paid $135/MWh for grid accepted generation and $120/MWh for curtailed generation. 

During those same 16 hours none of the wind generation was needed as when demand peaked over those hours at Hour 16 it was only 13,296 MW and the daily peak at Hour 20 only reached 15,320 MW!

The unneeded 32,400 MW those IWT generated in the first 16 hours, along with the curtailed power, drove down the market price or HOEP (hourly Ontario electricity price) to an average of $1.57/MWh.

The low price was loved by our neighbours in New York, Michigan and Quebec as they snapped up 38,743 MW generating a miserly $60.8 thousand for what cost us Ontario ratepayers/taxpayers north of $5.4 million just for the IWT generated power.

We Ontarians were also dinged for the remaining 8 hours but the HOEP was at least higher averaging $39.57/MWh meaning it didn’t cost us the $166.94/MWh we had to absorb for the first 16 hours of the day selling off the IWT generation. During those 8 hours wind delivered another 10,223 MW (26% of capacity) so we were forced to absorb another $404K.

We should continue to wonder; why doesn’t the Ford led Ontario Conservative Party end the madness (stupidity) of those IWT contracts by passing legislation eliminating their “first-to-the-grid” rights?

Witness Wind Cash Gobblers on September 22nd

What Ontario ratepayers expect in the Spring and Fall seasons started on the very first fall day (September 22, 2022) in the current year.  

The 4,900 MW (about) capacity of grid connected IWT (industrial wind turbines) spread throughout the province could have generated 74,442 MWh (63.3% of their capacity) if the approximately 8,800 MWh of curtailed wind is included with the IESO accepted generation.

As it turned out IESO accepted 65,642 MWh and were busy finding a home for those MWh with our neighbours in Michigan, New York and Quebec who eagerly snapped up 61,757 MWh at the average bargain basement HOEP (hourly Ontario energy price) market price of $8.56MWh (0.86 cents/kWh).

The foregoing happened as we ratepayers/taxpayers are obliged to pay $135/MWh (13.5 cents/kWh) for the grid accepted IWT generation and $120/MWh (12.0 cents/kWh) for its curtailed generation given their “first-to-the-grid rights!  What the above translates to is a total cost of $9,891,000 will be paid to the IWT owners. IESO had to sell off that unneeded generation to avoid overloading the grid and cause blackouts. IESO sold the bulk of it to our neighbours who paid about $529,000 which translates to a net cost to us Ontarians of $9,362,000 for power we didn’t need.   

While it’s not unusual to see those IWT operate at levels of 40/60 % of their capacity it tends to always be during the spring and fall when Ontario’s peak demand is low. Yesterday was no exception as peak Ontario demand occurred at Hour 20 and was only 15,584 MW whereas on those warm summer days peak Ontario demand frequently hovers around the 20,000MW+ mark but wind generation is frequently missing or completely absent.

Those peak demand summer days is when the IWT take a holiday proving all they do is add to the costs of our energy supply with their intermittency and unreliability!

Pretty sure most Ontarians will be happy when those contracts given by the McGuinty/Wynne led government(s) finally expire and those IWT are shut down.  Migrating birds and bats and households in rural communities affected by the high decibel noise and the infrasound affecting their health will, no doubt, be delighted!

To paraphrase the Dire Straits song; IWT owners get “money for nothing, but it sure ain’t free”!

Industrial Wind Turbines Once Again Display Their Unreliable Nature

Yesterday, August 10, 2022 was a nice summer day in Southern Ontario and hopefully elsewhere with temperatures in the “comfortable” range so while peak demand for electricity was fairly high reaching 20,568 MW for a 5 minute interval at hour 18 (hour ending at 6 PM) it didn’t crack the top 10 peaks in the current year.

At that particular hour the 4,900 MW capacity of those grid connected IWT (industrial wind turbines) with their “first to the grid” rights generated 642 MWh or 3.1% of demand while representing 13% of grid connected Ontario capacity.  They operated at only 13.1% of their capacity meaning other generating capacity like those natural gas plants were needed to keep air conditioners, etc. operating and they did the job generating 4,862 MWh supplying 23.6% of demand at that hour.

At hour 9 when demand is climbing on a work day those IWT managed to generate only 120 MWh which was 2.4% of their rated capacity and 0.7% of the hours 5 minute peak demand of 16,677 MW.  Natural gas plants at hour 9 generated 2,100 MWh thankfully covering the shortfall of those IWT generators.

At hour 24, ending at midnight IWT were operating at 28.1% of their capacity generating 1,375 MWh however providing 9.3% of the peak demand of only 14,759 MW which nuclear and hydro could have easily provided.  

It’s good to have dependable power when needed and those IWT continue to demonstrate their intermittent and unreliable ability to do so!