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!

Ontario’s Peak Demand Hour and Industrial Wind Turbines Barely Showed Up

November 28th, 2022, saw Ontario’s peak demand for electricity reach a fairly high level of 19,360 MW at Hour 18 (hour ending at 6 PM) and those IWT with their “first-to-the-grid” rights were almost absent at that hour. As we approach the winter season peak demand will reach those levels frequently and will often be over 20,000 MW and occasionally close to summer peak demand hours.

At the present time with a few nuclear plants undergoing refurbishment IWT represent over 16% of current Ontario grid connected capacity but at Hour 18 they were only able to deliver 1% (200 MW) of peak demand ie; 4% of their capacity!  During the early morning hours from 1 AM to 7 AM when demand was as low as 12,990 MW, IWT managed to generate 13,524 MW (39.4% of their capacity) over those seven hours.  For the balance of the day (17 hours) they generated a total of 6,862 MW, an average of only 8.2% of their rated capacity with Hour 19 the low point, at 194 MW or 4% of capacity.

For those first seven hours of the day when the IWT were running at 39.4% of their capacity, IESO were selling their surplus power off to our neighbours in Michigan, New York, and Quebec for as low a price as $5.84/MWh.  For the 17 hours following however, IESO were buying power from New York and Quebec for prices that reached $86.31/MWh at Hour 18, once again demonstrating the intermittent and unreliable nature of IWT and their cost to us ratepayers.

If the owners of those IWT also had a BESS (battery energy storage system), which several are currently seeking; at Hour 2 they would have been paid $135/MWh for the 2,636 MW of wind generation delivered to the grid. If they then purchased those 2,638 MW at the princely sum of $5.84/MWh, used their BESS to store them, and then resold the stored power (less the 20% loss of battery storage) at the peak hour for $86.31/MWh they would wind up getting about $200/MWh or over twice the cost of clean nuclear and more than three times the price of clean hydro.

We should all be at a loss at trying to discern, exactly how the above would reduce emissions on the dubious path chosen to achieve that net-zero target? Ontario’s electricity sector is already over 92% emissions free!

We should all worry; the foregoing will be allowed here in Ontario based on the Ministry of Energy’s plan to add 1,500 MW of energy storage.  As it implies; the 1,500 MW of storage will do nothing more than increase electricity prices in Ontario as they have done in other locales including California, Southern Australia, the UK and many European countries.

More “energy poverty” appears to be what our politicians are seeking!

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.

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! 

Ontario Ratepayers are Back Helping Michigan Keep their Electricity Bills Low

A recent article described how Ontario’s nuclear plants were slowly coming back online after having all of the Pickering units (3,100 MW capacity) out for VBO (vacuum building outage) and two others out for refurbishment!  Yesterday, as an example IESO reported at Hour 1 our baseload nuclear power generated 7,333 MWh and by Hour 24 they had ramped up and generated 8002 MWh.

The good news about the foregoing is, as we approach those cold winter days when Ontario’s daily peak demand is higher than spring and fall days, we will have sufficient capacity to meet the needs of our households and businesses.

The bad news is those IWT (industrial wind turbines) are still humming as yesterday demonstrates even though peak demand at Hour 18 only reached 15,428 MW.  IESO’s forecast over the 24 hours suggested IWT would generate about 71,400 MW (61% of their capacity) but they only accepted 54,700 MW to the grid meaning they curtailed approximately 16,700 MW. As a result, we ratepayers/taxpayers paid $135/MWh for grid accepted generation and $120/MWh for the curtailed generation. The combined cost of what IESO accepted therefore cost us $9,388,500 or $171.64/MWh (17.2 cents/kWh).

If one then examines our net exports (exports minus imports) we see that we were exporting our surplus power to Michigan, NY, and Quebec and for the full day those net exports were almost 42,100 MWh and Michigan were the beneficiary of most of them.  It would be good if that unneeded IWT generation was in demand but that wasn’t the case as the market price or HOEP (hourly Ontario energy price) over the 24 hours averaged a piddly $3.94/MWh.

To put the foregoing in context, the average Ontario household consumes 9 MWh annually so if that price was the standard it would amount to $35.46 for a household’s yearly energy costs. Wouldn’t that be welcomed during this period of high inflation!

So, lets look at the benefits to our neighbours in Michigan, NY, and Quebec in respect to the low HOEP price caused by surplus intermittent generation from those IWT!  We ratepayers are required to pay IWT generators under their contracts for both what is grid accepted as well as what is curtailed so the combined cost yesterday for both as noted above was $171.64 MWh.  If all the net exported power (42,100 MWh) came from the grid accepted IWT the cost of that to Ontario ratepayers and taxpayers would amount to $7,226,044 (42,100 MW X $171.64/MWh) and generated only $165,874 (42,100 MWh X $3.94) from their sale meaning; we were forced to absorb over $7 million in costs for just one day! 

While we did import some power from Michigan, NY, and Quebec during the approximately four weeks of the nuclear outage we were paying for it at prices over ten times what we sold our power to them for yesterday.

Stop the Bleeding

It seems hard to understand why the Premier Ford Ontario led Government hasn’t passed legislation to stop the bleeding of ratepayer dollars going to the owners of those unreliable and intermittent IWT generators.  At the very least he should work to obtain “carbon credits” for those “emissions free” cheap generation we sell to our neighbours.  We could then sell the “carbon credits” in the market to help reduce the costs of electricity to Ontario’s ratepayers.

PS: Today (November 7, 2022, looks to be even more costly based on the first 13 hours of IESO Data.

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. 

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.”  

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.