Coal’s comeback as gas prices surge, and COP 26 climate gabfest in Glasgow, Scotland

I was on the radio station NEWSTALK SAUGO 960 AM with Marc Patrone once again and we covered some interesting local and global issues including coal’s comeback and some of the events that will plague the COP 26 upcoming gabfest in Glasgow.

You can tune in here to the Marc Patrone radio podcast for October 13th starting at 1:07:50 for our chat.

or you can WATCH and listen to our conversation on NEWSTALK CANADA here:

https://www.newstalkcanada.com/?page_id=22

ECO-Warriors in Shock as Last Week’s Events Unfolded

A few news stories over the past week caught my eye due to their rational views overturning claims from ENGO pushing for success at COP 26 to achieve the “net-zero” target. Here are three of the best.

Shutting Ontario’s Gas Plants Would lead to Blackouts and Cost Households $1,200 More Annually

On October 7, 2021 Ontario’s IESO (Independent Electricity System Operator) issued a press release announcing they had reviewed requests from thirty (30) Ontario municipalities associated with their demand gas plants should be shut down.  The press release highlighted the findings of the report titled: “Decarbonization and Ontario’s Electricity Systemwhich were:

Completely phasing out natural gas generation by 2030 would lead to blackouts and the system changes that would be required would increase residential electricity bills by 60 per cent.

Ontario’s electricity grid is only responsible for roughly three per cent of the province’s total GHG emissions and is well positioned to support the electrification of other sectors.

Ontario’s electricity system is constantly evolving and the IESO is actively integrating emerging technologies that have the potential to meet Ontario’s long-term needs.”

The 60% increase in the first highlight noted above would increase residential bills by $100/month along with generating blackouts. The second highlight notes Ontario’s electric grid is one of the cleanest in the world yet eco-warriors such as the CRA registered charity; the OCAA (Ontario Clean Air Alliance) want to make it 100% emissions free but are seemingly OK if we experience “blackouts!

Followers of my blog will no doubt recall a prior article about the OCAA and their Chair, Jack Gibbons who wowed those 30 municipal councils convincing them to push the Ford led government to close the gas plants. It is interesting to look at the IESO data on the day of their press release as it easily demonstrates the inability of wind and solar generation to provide a reliable supply of energy.  Hour 17 (5PM) ended with those two generating sources providing a miserly 0.93% (157 MW) of that hour’s demand which was approximately 16,860 MW.  On the other hand, flexible and reliable gas generation provided 22.6% (3,807 MW) for that hour ensuring supply was sufficient for ratepayer needs.

Ontario ratepayers should be thankful IESO provided a report with facts to dispel the lies of the eco-warriors such as those spewed by Jack Gibbons!

You’re kidding when you say: UK’s Biggest Source of Greenhouse Gas is an ‘Eco’ Power Station

A very recent article in the UK’s Daily Mail cited the European Academies Science Advisory Council and stated; “using woody biomass for power is not effective in mitigating climate change and may even increase the risk of dangerous climate change”.  It is always gratifying to have others confirm what you, as an individual, noted in the past and this was one such occasion. An article I wrote and posted on Energy Probe basically reached the same conclusion as the EASAC over seven years ago in March 2014. The article noted wood pellets produced in North and South America for DRAX were shipped to England for transportation by rail to Yorkshire where DRAX’s generation station is located.

The Daily Mail’s article went on to note: “Drax in Yorkshire burns wood pellets, which are treated as a ‘renewable’ fuel and the site has attracted more than £800million of taxpayer subsidies. But analysis shows that the burning of wood for power – known as biomass – has been the cause of more carbon dioxide emissions than coal since 2019.” The article goes on to state: “Drax is Europe’s third largest CO2 emitter, exceeded only by Belchatow in Poland and Neurath in Germany. In the UK, Drax leads CO2 emissions, with RWE’s Pembroke gas power station coming in second with 4.3Mt of CO2.“ It does seem rather strange the  accounting rules allow Drax to be treated as “carbon neutral”!

Nice to see the truth for a change when it comes to the push to decarbonize the world by the eco-warriors but one should wonder why it took EASAC and the MSM so long to recognize those lies?

Greenpeace Loses Supreme Court Case Against BP

BP (British Petroleum) had been granted a permit by the UK government to drill for oil in the Vorlich Field in the North Sea but before they could activate the permit Greenpeace decided to challenge them in the courts.  The article, in the Rigzone Energy Network October 8, 2021 stated  “Environmentalist group Greenpeace has lost its court case which challenged the UK government’s decision to grant a permit to BP to drill the Vorlich Field”. Greenpeace’s principal claim was “the government gave no consideration to the climate impact of burning the fossil fuels extracted”.

The written ruling stated: “Although the appellants’ aspiration is for such extraction to cease, it does not appear to be contended that the UK economy is not still reliant in a number of different ways on the consumption of oil and gas. At present, a shortage of oil and gas supplies is a matter of public concern,” the Lord President, Carloway, added, referencing recent political developments around the gas price crisis. The ruling went on to state: “It would not be practicable, in an assessment of the environmental effects of a project for the extraction of fossil fuels, for the decision maker to conduct a wide-ranging examination into the effects, local or global, of the use of that fuel by the final consumer,”

The court however did push the decision up the line to elected politicians noting: “The Secretary of State’s submission that these are matters for decision at a relatively high level of Government, rather than either by the court or in relation to one oilfield project, is correct. The issue is essentially a political and not a legal one,” Lord Carloway concluded.

What the ruling suggests is Greenpeace and other ENGO should confine their activities to lobbying politicians and their bureaucrats as the legal system will only deal with laws passed by parliament.

The article also made mention that back in 2019 Greenpeace tried “to stop BP from drilling on the Vorlich field by intercepting its chartered drilling rig Paul B. Loyd, Jr. some 80 miles off Scotland, forcing the rig to turn back. Several arrests were made as a result.”

The three events noted above give us hope there are people still left on the planet with rational thought processes.  Perhaps some of them will infiltrate the MSM and the political parties!  We can only hope!  

As an aside the “net-zero” concept and electrification of everything in our lives was pushed via TV ads back in 1961 and the ads are still available on YouTube!  “Live Better Electrically”  No mention of either climate change or emissions back then however!

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

Gas Plants Saved Ontarians From Rolling Brownouts Once Again

Well, the hot humid weather continued in August and IESO (Independent Electricity System Operator) has updated their “Peak Tracker”.  As it turns out the hour ending at hour 17, August 24, 2021, was the # 1 peak demand hour, so far in 2021, reaching 22,986 MW (megawatts) in Ontario.

Wind and solar generation chipped in with a miserly combined 656 MW or 2.8% of that peak demand while our gas plants contributed 30.3% (6,963 MW) of demand meaning; unlike California we didn’t suffer from rolling blackouts or brownouts!  It is interesting the “super green” state of California recently announced their plans “to open 5 natural gas plans to avoid blackouts”!

The foregoing strongly suggests wind and solar cannot be counted on when they are needed and hopefully this sends a signal to all the eco-warriors that they are not the answer to reducing our dependence on fossil fuels.

Try to imagine if the current 8.7 million registered road vehicles in Ontario were all electric (coming by 2050 as promised by our politicians) and a small percentage of them needed charging.  At that time if we were dependent on wind and solar generation and experienced a week or two of similar weather we would be in big trouble.

The highways would be empty as would grocery store shelves as the “electric vehicles” delivering supplies would be unable to, nor would farmers be able to harvest their crops!  Is this what the eco-warriors have in mind as they seem unable to appreciate the benefits of fossil fuels?  

It is apparent eco-warriors really believe mankind controls the earth’s temperature and not the sun!  

Barry Manilow can’t smile without climate change

Once again, I was invited, as a guest, on the Marc Patrone Show on SAUGA NEWS 960 AM this morning. While the captioned title doesn’t reflect all we talked about it is apt because Manilow’s show in New York’s Central Park was cut short due to heavy rain and the media blamed it on climate change! 

Marc and I chatted about peak hours and the push to close our gas plants along with other related climate change issues and you can listen here starting at 1:22:15 of the podcast:

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

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

Yet Another Peak Hour and Ontario Survived it Thanks to Gas Plants

Yesterday (August 23, 2021) Ontario experienced another warm day with the temperature reaching 31 C in Toronto but that was 10 degrees less than the record high of July 10, 1936 when it reached 41 C.  Nevertheless, we achieved another “peak hour” with electricity demand reaching 22,309 MW at hour 17 (ending) making it the # 2 peak hour so far in 2021.

Wind (424 MW) and solar (141 MW) at that hour provided us with 2.5% of total demand and those gas generators supplied 26.5% of our demand (5,912 MW) which we needed or ratepayers of both Class A and B would have experienced blackouts or rolling brownouts.

Ratepayers of both Classes should press the 30 municipalities (telling the Ford Government to close those gas plants due to the OCAA’s [Ontario Clean Air Alliance] travelling minstrel show), to have second thoughts and rescind their council’s request to close those gas plants.

Another Peak Demand Hour and Wind is Missing

As we have come to expect in Ontario, “peak demand” generally occurs on hot summer days and the hour ending at hour 17 on August 20th was the most recent occurrence coming in at # 8 of “peak demand hours” so far this year.

Demand at the above hour reached 21,569 MW and the bulk of that needed demand was supplied by Nuclear, Hydro and Natural Gas generators. At that hour gas plants supplied 25.9% (5,587 MW) of demand while wind generators managed to produce only 0.45% (98 MW) of demand and the bulk (53 MW) of that came from the Greenwich Renewable Energy Project a 99 MW station located Northeast of Thunder Bay so none of their generation was useful in the well populated areas of the province. The other 40 plus wind turbine generating stations scattered throughout the province produced only 45 MW which probably didn’t even cover their consumption during that hour.

The foregoing fact is something you will not hear from the OCAA (Ontario Clean Air Alliance) whose push is to close out gas plants. The OCAA’s push to close gas plants has reputedly been endorsed by 30 Ontario Municipalities representing over 50% of the province’s population. 

In an effort to push the alarm button further the OCAA has called for all their followers to: “Please contact Ontario’s new Minister of Energy, Todd Smith, and ask him to direct the IESO to develop and implement a plan to achieve a complete phase-out of our gas-fired power plants by 2030.”

What Jack Gibbons the Chair and CEO of OCAA doesn’t seem to understand is that the events of hour 17 are frequent during the very hot days of summer and the very cold days during the winter.  If Minister of Energy, Todd Smith, followed through with the OCAA’s recommendations Ontario’s ratepayers would be faced with numerous brownouts and even full blackouts during the dead of winter and the heat of summer.

I would suggest the ratepayers of Ontario should write a letter to the councils of the 30 municipalities informing them of the above facts and recommending they rescind their endorsement to shut down Ontario’s gas plants by 2030 as proposed by the OCAA.

You can find the full list of the municipalities that have endorsed the closure by simply clicking on the following.

Ontario Municipalities that have endorsed gas power phase-out

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.

Another Broken Political Promise

Back in April 2018 Doug Ford, the then recently chosen leader of the Ontario PC Party promised “to cut hydro bills by 12 per cent if he wins Ontario’s spring election, saying it would be on top of a rate reduction from the governing Liberals, whose plan he has repeatedly criticized. The Progressive Conservative leader said Thursday that he would cut rates through a variety of measures that would save the average ratepayer $173 a year.”

So how has that promise turned out?                                                                             

A recent report from the C. D. Howe Institute titled; “Power Surge: The Causes of (and Solutions to) Ontario’s Electricity Price Rise Since 2006” reminded me of Premier Ford’s above promise. I decided to measure his promise against actual results from our personal Hydro One bills.

A quick calculation of our June 2018 bill indicated all-in costs on the Hydro One bill we received were 15.06 cents/per kWh (kilowatt hour) after being granted a rebate of the provincial portion (8%) of the HST and a further discount under the “Fair Hydro Plan”.  Collectively the two reductions represented 34.5% of what our bill would have been.  Without discount(s) costs would have been 22.6 cents/kWh!

Fast forward three years later to June 2021 and all-in costs were 14.99 cents/kWh or a drop of 0.07 cents not the 1.8 cents/kWh of the promised 12% reduction.  The strange thing about the latter bill however is on the actual calculations the amount deducted is referenced as the “Ontario Electricity Rebate” (OER) and if added to what we paid would have raised the price to 18 cents/kWh.  On page 1 of the bill however, there was a dollar amount cited (Total Ontario support) that was 3.5 times the amount of the OER and if added to what we were required to pay would have increased the costs to 25.5 cents/kWh or 12.8% more than the 22.6 cents/kWh of June 2018. 

What the foregoing suggests is the Ford government has done nothing to reduce the cost of electricity since elected and instead is simply burdening taxpayers at the rate of 10.6 cents/kWh (25.5 cents/kWh minus 14.9 cents/kWh) for electricity consumed by residential and (perhaps) other ratepayers.

In respect to the foregoing the C. D. Howe report contains the following about the taxpayer burden: “As system costs – particularly in energy generation – have continued to rise, the Ontario government has increasingly turned towards taxpayers to keep total bills down. The most recent estimates from the Ministry of Finance show the cost of subsides rising to a staggering $6.5 billion for the 2021/22 fiscal year – or nearly 3.5 percent of total government expenditures. To put this number in context, that same budget proposed to spend $5.8 billion in taxpayer dollars on long-term care.“

Premier Ford left Greg Richford in the portfolio for three years and this suggests he accomplished nothing other than burdening taxpayers with debt! With the advent of Todd Smith as the new Minister of Energy, taxpayers and ratepayers should hope he will somehow start the process of fixing the mess.

The time has come for the Ford led Government to recognize that taxpayers and ratepayers are normally one and the same individual!

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!