Hour 19 on December 8, 2021 Shows Why Ontario needs Gas Generation

Should one bother to look at the Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO) data for hour 19 on December 8th one would note Ontario’s natural gas plants thankfully produced 30.4% (6,399 MWh) of the entire hour’s generation which was just over 21,000 MWh. Without gas generation Ontarians would have experienced rolling backouts much like California does on high demand days.

While gas plants were thankfully, at the ready, our nuclear (8,510 MWh) and hydro (5,076 MWh) plants were reliant as always, generating 64.7% of the hour’s needs.  Collectively those three dependable sectors produced 95.1% of the entire hour’s generation. The balance of 4.9% (1,033 MWh), largely unneeded, came from wind, and biomass as the sun had set so no solar generation was produced.

Ontario demand during the hour was a shade over 20,000 MWh so IESO exported the unneeded generation to Quebec (556 MWh), NY ((369 MWh) and Michigan (452 MWh) and thankfully because demand was higher due to the colder weather the market driven HOEP (hourly Ontario energy price) averaged $94.44/MWh meaning the cost of the surplus generation had a minor impact on costs paid by the ratepayers and taxpayers of the province.

It seems strange Ontario’s ratepayers are much better off when the sun isn’t shining or the winds not blowing hard but that is what the GEEA (Green Energy and Economy Act) brought us.

On an unusually cold day like December 8th we should be thankful for the readily available gas plant generation we have. Those gas plants (contracted to backup intermittent and unreliable wind and solar generation) ensured we would not be hampered by rolling blackouts.

So, all you municipal politicians in Ottawa, Toronto and elsewhere in the province, PLEASE tell us why you are demanding those reliable gas plants should be shut down! 

Winds Whips Hydro in Ontario or So It Appears

As December 1, 2021 drew to a close at Hour 22 on the IESO “Generators Output and Capability Report” wind generation suddenly passed hydro generation and stayed ahead of it for the following 20 hours, pausing at Hour 19 on December 2nd but passing hydro again for hours 20 and 21.  Over those 23 hours wind (as reported by IESO) reputedly out-produced Ontario’s hydro generation by almost 21,000 MWh.  Based on IESO data it appears about 2,700 MWh of wind generation was also curtailed. What IESO data doesn’t disclose is how much hydro was spilled over those 23 hours.

For wind and solar data IESO report it on three lines by hour; “Available Capacity, Forecast and Output”.  When hydro is “spilled” or nuclear is “steamed off” we won’t see that reported by IESO and are uninformed until financial reports from OPG or Bruce Power are released.  OPG’s 9-month financial report for September 30, 2021 indicates they spilled 1.7 TWh (terawatt hours) due to SBG (surplus baseload generation) to that point in the year.  Hydro spillage is paid for by ratepayers and so far, has added over $100 million to this year’s electricity bill. The 1.7 TWh is equivalent to (approximately) what 250,000 average households would have consumed over those 9 months.

The reasoning by IESO as to whether they will spill hydro or curtail wind (which we also pay for) is reputedly determined by the HOEP (hourly Ontario electricity price). Most contracted IWT (industrial wind turbines) are paid $135/MWh and $120/MWh if curtailed.  IESO in situations that create SBG will sell off the surplus (if the HOEP is high enough) before they spill hydro or steam off nuclear.  It has never been clear to many why the contracts awarded for either IWT or solar panels were granted “first to the grid” rights but both of those intermittent and unreliable generation sources were, so we must pay them even if the generation is unneeded!

A quick look at the costs for those 23 hours  

The 2,700 MWh (approximately) of curtailed wind meant generators were paid $120/MWh costing $324,000. Those same IWT generators were paid $135/MWh for the 98,800 MWh of accepted wind amounting to $13,338,000.  To top off the costs for the 23 hours favouring wind generation, OPG was paid $60/MWh for spilling hydro (minimally estimated at 21,000 MWh) adding $1,260.000 and bringing total costs to $14,922,000 for the 23 hours!                                        

The $14,922,000 represents a cost of $151/MWh for the 98,800 MWh of accepted wind generation but doesn’t include costs associated with the gas plant backups for wind and solar which would add another $3 million or so for the 23 hours nor does it include losses from selling power to our neighbours.

On the latter, IESO were selling off approximately 2,500 MW hourly to our neighbours in Michigan, NY etc. for the HOEP average price of about $30/MWh. Those 60,000 MWh therefore generated about $1.8 million reducing the total cost above to $13,122,000.  If we accept the fact those exports were IWT generated the remaining 38,800 MWh supplying local ratepayers cost $340/MWh.

Had OPG provided those 38,800 MWh the cost would have been $60/MWh ($2.3 million) saving Ontario ratepayers over $12 Million!

One should wonder why the McGuinty/Wynne government blessed those contracts and why the Ford led government has done nothing to fix it?

Events like those 23 hours clearly show wind whips Ontario’s ratepayers not it’s hydro generation!

NB: Over the days of December 1st and 2nd during one of the hours wind was generating almost 93% of its capacity and on another hour was generating only 15% demonstrating its intermittent and unreliable habit!

Wind Generation in the middle of the night wastes ratepayer and taxpayer dollars

Today, November 26, 2021 at 3 AM the wind was blowing and those IWT (industrial wind turbines) generated 3,677 MWh or 81.2% of their rated capacity of 4519 MW at that hour. Ontario’s demand was low though at 12,941 MW so IESO were busy selling our surplus as total generation was 15,361 MWh.

IESO exported 1,375 MWh to Michigan, 658 MWh to New York and 578 MWh to Quebec. Those 2,611 MWh we sold went for pennies on the dollar as the HOEP (hourly Ontario electricity price) was a miserly 1.33 cents/kWh.  At the same time, one should surmise IESO instructed OPG to also spill hydro.

It is obvious Ontario didn’t need the IWT generation at that hour but they have a bad habit of generating power when it’s unneeded and fail to deliver it when demand is high during hot summer days.

So, Ontario sold the 2,611 MWh to our neighbours for the princely sum of $13.30/MWh which generated $34,726 but paid those IWT generators $135/MWh so they received $352,485 for those unneeded 2,611 MWh meaning Ontario’s ratepayers and taxpayers picked up the loss of $312,759 for just that one hour.

The full night for the 7 hours from midnight to 7 AM had those IWT generating 28,460 MWh so the likely cost to Ontario’s ratepayers and taxpayers was over $2 million for just those seven hours. 

We should all assume those IWT were also busy chopping up birds and bats and causing rural residents sleeping problems in addition to adding to the costs of our electricity bills.

Sure, would-be good news if the Ford government actually did something to reduce the costs of generating electricity other than simply transferring the costs to taxpayers and increasing our provincial debt!

Open letter to the Honourable Todd Smith, Ontario Minister of Energy

Dear Minister Smith,

Re:  Oneida Battery Park Project

I recently note you sent a letter dated August 27, 2021, to Ms. Lesley Gallinger, President and CEO of the Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO) in respect to the captioned.  The letter instructed IESO to negotiate a “draft” contract with the parties proposing the 250 MW battery storage project.

I was pleased to observe you couched your directive with the following instructions:

I will not consider a directive to the IESO asking it to execute the drafted final contract until:

• National Resources Canada’s determination regarding the $50 million in funding under the Smart Renewables and Electrification Pathways Program is known; and

• The ownership of the project is fully clarified, including the equity participation of both NRStor and Six Nations of the Grand River Development Corp.”

Along the lines of your directive I sincerely hope you are aware of an article I penned January 23, 2021 partially analyzing the project when it was first announced in a press release from the Federal taxpayer owned Canada Infrastructure Bank (CIB).  The press release indicated the CIB would invest $170 million of our hard-earned tax dollars. My article attempted to point out the negative impact the project would have on Ontario ratepayers despite our tax dollars being thrown at the project.  It now appears another $50 million of our tax dollars may be slated to join the $170 million already committed!

The other issue which I would point out is in respect to what recently occurred to a similar project in Southeast Australia.  An article on August 5, 2021 on the CNBC website was headlined: “Tesla Megapack fire highlights issues to be solved for utility ‘big batteries”.  The article noted: “There have been around 40 known fires that have occurred within large-scale, lithium-ion battery energy storage systems,” which should be considered; if this project is allowed to proceed.

What I wish to reiterate to you and IESO is; you must recall the Green Energy and Green Economy Act caused Ontario’s electricity rates to spike by well over 100%.  Projects such as this will add further costs to the system and negatively impact ratepayers including small and medium sized companies.  The effects will be a reduction in employment, drive manufacturers and other businesses elsewhere and create further energy poverty.

The possibility of fires on large-scale lithium-ion battery energy storage systems also cannot be ignored.  A fire such as happened in 40 cases would simply serve to increase emissions as would the mega batteries relatively short life span and their eventual disposal.

I sincerely hope the Ontario Ministry of Energy and IESO will bear the foregoing in mind before any approval is granted to proceed!

Your very truly,

Parker Gallant,

Parker Gallant Energy Perspectives

Comparing Ontario Covid-19 Lockdowns in Reducing Electricity Demand

Earlier this year IESO released their 2020 stats and noted Ontario’s electricity demand fell 2.1% (down 2.9 terawatt hours [TWh]) from 2019 or about what 325,000 average households would consume in a year.

In 2020 the first full lockdowns in Ontario started in late March and basically stayed in place until late June/early July when some relief was allowed.  The current year’s lockdown looks very similar!  So, did the 2021 lockdowns result in further consumption reductions compared to the same quarter in 2020?

As it turns out consumption in the current April, May, June quarter saw a jump of 1.4 TWh compared to the same three months of 2020. That 1.4 TWh increase (up 4.7%) represents what 625.000 average Ontario households would consume in three months.  Ontario’s ratepayers consumed 29.724 TWh in the three months of 2020 and in 2021 consumption jumped to 31.130 TWh.

The GA (global adjustment) for 2021 totaled $2.687 billion and adding the average of the HOEP (hourly Ontario energy price) of $15.50/MWh for the three months brings the total cost to Ontario’s ratepayers and taxpayers (taxpayers are now picking up a large portion of the electricity costs) to $3.169,5 billion! The latter total indicates an average cost of approximately 10.2 cents/kWh (kilowatt hour) with the math simply being: $3.169,5 billion divided by consumption of 31.130 TWh.

The GA for 2020 was considerably higher as the Ford government capped the GA at $115/MWh (megawatt hour) due to the concern it would spike, so it totaled $3.825,7 billion and coupled with the average HOEP (average $8.10/MWh for the three months) brought the total cost to $4.066,4 billion.  That means the cost per kWh in 2020 for the same three months looks to be about 13.7 cents/kWh.

So, one should wonder, why the drop in average costs if consumption increased 4.7%?  

Well as it turns out our net exports (exports minus imports) declined 2.9 TWh so in 2021 that decline saved Ontarians about $425 million for those three months as we didn’t have to eat the GA of $115/MWh and the average HOEP (the sale price) was higher (up $7.40/MWh) so in 2021 we got a little more for each MWh we sold.  Additionally, curtailed wind declined by 183K MWh* saving us another $22 million.  I suspect we also didn’t spill as much hydro or steam-off nuclear which would also have reduced 2021 costs but that information is not disclosed as yet.  Less solar generation in 2021 may also have played a role at reducing costs.

It becomes obvious Ontario’s grid; supplied principally with nuclear and hydro supplemented by gas generation would produce lower costs. For all of 2020 nuclear and hydro supplied 94.3% of Ontario demand and cheap and reliable gas easily supplied the balance.  The intermittent and unreliable supply of wind and solar at the exorbitant contracted 20-year rates does nothing to reduce emissions while burdening ratepayers and taxpayers with much higher costs. 

The three-month comparison highlights the mess created by the previous Liberal Government(s) under the leadership of the McGuinty/Wynne terms as Premiers of the Province and their enactment of the Green Energy Act coupled with those contracts signed with wind and solar generators during their time in power.

*Thanks to Scott Luft for tracking industrial wind generation and curtailment monthly.

No Peaking Without Gas

As summer in Ontario finally arrived temperatures rose over the past few days and resulted in IESO reporting, so far in 2021, hour 18 of June 28, 2021 is the #1 peak hour with demand reaching 22,258 MW (megawatts).  While that is the highest demand hour so far in 2021 it is by no means the highest peak over the past three years with September 5, 2018 at hour 18 reaching 23,240 MW.

Nuclear was operating at close to 100% capacity at hour 18 generating just over 47% of peak demand and hydro 22% of demand and operating at almost 69% of capacity. Our gas plants thankfully were at the ready generating slightly more than 26.5% of our peak demand and operating at 63% of their capacity.

The remaining generation capacity consisting of wind (4,500 MW), solar (438 MW) and biomass (238 MW) managed to only produce 13.9% of their capacity (just over 3% of demand) or a miserly 716 MW during the peak hour. In other words, they weren’t performing when we actually needed them!  As a result, IESO imported power from Michigan and New York when prices hit their peak for the day of $232.79/MWh.  Those two states regularly buy Ontario’s surplus power and in 2020, on average, they purchased it for $13.90/MWH.  Interestingly according to the US IEA; “Natural gas accounted for 33% of the state’s (Michigan) net generation, while coal’s share declined to 27%.” What that means is we were importing fossil fuel generation.  That should upset the eco-warriors and the Federal Liberals under Trudeau who want to eliminate all usage of fossil fuels and reach net-zero emissions by 2050 or perhaps they think the pain should only be inflicted on Canadians?

Looking to the future one wonders what will happen should Ontario see those 27 municipalities; (who have signed on to the Ontario Clean Air Alliance’s [OCAA] push for all gas plants to be shut down) get what they asked for.  Where is the peaking power going to come from as it won’t come from intermittent and unreliable sources like wind and solar?  Perhaps all the Ontario EV drivers will agree to provide all the power that gas generation previously did as envisaged by the OCAA.  We can anticipate those same EV car owners will be told, as they were very recently in California, when they can’t charge their batteries or we will experience brownouts and/or blackouts.  

Also, what happens if a peak demand day comes on a cold winter day in January (one did on January 21, 2019) after the 67% of homes currently using natural gas as a heating source are forced to convert to electric heat?  Where will that additional electricity generation come from as EV lose a large percentage of their power in cold weather?

From all perspectives it seems the eco-warriors and our Federal government aim to punish all low and middle-income households in the province in their efforts to deliver on their religious beliefs.

Mankind cannot control the sun or Mother Nature so why is it so difficult for them to understand!

Ontario gifts Michigan cheap energy as US state threatens Line 5

I was on Sauga Radio 960 AM at the invitation of Marc Patrone for his morning show on May 19, 2021. Our discussion was related to the cheap power we have been exporting to Michigan and other locations and Michigan’s threat to shut down Line 5.

You can listen to our chat starting at 1:22.18 of his show on the podcast here:

Podcasts

You can also listen to our discussions at NEWSTALK CANADA if you are a subscriber here:

https://newstalkcanada.com/?page_id=2527

Hey, Premier Ford, did Michigan Governor Whitmer at least say “Thanks” for the Free Electricity we gave her April 30th?

Several days ago, a friendly contact alerted me to some facts about electricity generation on April 30th, 2021.  He noted wind exceeded hydro in 5 of the hours and as much as 81% of wind generation was curtailed in a single hour. He also pointed out the HOEP (hourly Ontario electricity price) market price was zero or less for 22 out of 24 hours and the two hours it was positive it climbed all the way up to 41 cents per MWh* (megawatt hour)!  The foregoing is a frequent occurrence in the Spring and Fall as Ontario demand is generally low and when the wind is blowing it must be both curtailed and exported.

With curiosity piqued it led to a review of IESO data for actual wind generation, its curtailment and exports for the day.  As it turned out wind generation accepted into the grid by IESO was just shy of 56,000 MWh and curtailed wind was very close to 34,000 MWh. What that meant is owners of the approximately 4,800 MW of grid connected wind capacity will be paid $7.560 million ($135.00** per MWh) for the accepted wind generation and $4.080 million ($120.00 per MWh) for the curtailed wind.  That implies the cost per MW of grid accepted wind generation was almost $208/per MWh versus about $56/MWh for hydro and $80/MWh for nuclear.  It also appears nuclear was steamed off by Bruce Nuclear and we should suspect hydro was also spilled.  Both of those are paid for so their costs would clearly be caused by wind’s propensity to generate power when it’s not needed.

To make matters worse IESO were forced to offer surplus generation via the market and needless to say our neighbours were happy to get it for free.  We exported almost 68,000 MWh to our neighbours in New York, Quebec and Michigan presumably to avoid possible grid failure. The state of Michigan received 24,000 MWh for free.  We basically supplied about 800,000 average Michigan households (approximately 20% of Michigan households) with free electricity for the day!

Ontario has been selling Michigan our cheap electricity exports for years and since we added intermittent and unreliable wind and solar to our grid the amount, we sell to them for pennies of its cost (what Ontario’s ratepayers pay for it) has increased. 

Michigan should recognize what nice neighbours we are! Instead, Governor Whitmer wants to shut down the Enbridge Line 5 pipeline which supplies them, several neighbouring states, as well as Quebec and Ontario with oil for refineries, propane for winter heat, aircraft fuel, etc. etc.

Perhaps the time has come for Premier Ford to give Governor Whitmer a call and tell her if she shuts down Line 5, she will need to fire up more of those (current) 9,300 MW (approximate capacity) of coal plants Michigan has; versus Ontario’s zero coal plant capacity.  

The time has come for Governor Whitmer to recognize and admit Michigan ranked # 8 in 2018 by the US EIA (Energy Information Administration) in respect to CO2 emissions from coal generation and 10th overall for total CO2 emissions.  Once she solves that problem, she can consider shutting down Line 5!

*One MWh is equivalent to 1,000 kWh (kilowatt hours) or what an average Ontario household would consume in a month and a half.

**The contracts signed with those industrial wind generation companies also included a maximum COL (cost of living) allowance of 20% so were presumably paid more than the $135/MWh.

Some good news on electricity costs

The foregoing title is a little deceptive as when Marc Patrone and I were speaking this morning on his show at Sauga Radio 960 AM we also covered a fair amount of other ground. Some of the other topics discussed were short spurts about pipelines, China, Russia’s forests and even briefly about housing costs. You can listen to our full discussion on the podcast starting at 41:10 and ending at 58:00 here:

or if you are a subscriber to NEWSTALK CANADA you can listen here:

https://newstalkcanada.com/?page_id=2527

Tom and guest Parker Gallant discuss the economics of “green” energy

Tom Harris invited me on his Exploratory Journeys podcast on i Heart radio and we spent about 1/2 hour discussing the economics related to “green” energy. We cover a fair amount of ground related to the electricity sector in Ontario particularly on the costs of renewable energy.

You can listen to the podcast with Tom Harris here but please note there are a couple of commercials before our chat: