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!

Who gets the carbon credits for recycling wind turbine blades and other burning questions?

As a climate change “realist” this past week has been what I would term, over the top. It seemed there is total confusion about what we should do and what we should avoid to push for net-zero emissions and move to the “circular economy”.  Some examples:

Industrial Wind Turbines are not yet part of the Circular Economy          

Cement giant LafargeHolcim and GE’s renewables wind turbine unit are teaming up and the purpose is “to explore the recycling of wind turbine blades.” The main objective of the partnership is to focus on “circular economy solutions”.  The same article notes one of the largest companies producing IWTs, Vestas, in early 2020 said it was aiming to produce a “zero-waste turbine” by 2040.  If one gives some thought to the Lafarge/GE team you conclude recycling fiberglass, etc. blades should result in the handing out of “carbon credits”! Both of those team members would presumably want them as they both are facing rising costs associated with “democratic” governments punishing them with a carbon-tax due to their emissions. The proponents of renewable energy from wind turbines must now be wringing their hands in confusion as they had pushed the concept that energy produced from them was emissions free but refused to admit their manufacturing generated emissions and that the blades were not recyclable.  It should also be noted that cement if it was a country would reputedly “rank fourth in the world as a climate polluter.”  IWT, based on many research papers could, “warm the surface temperature of the continental U.S. by 0.24 degrees Celsius, with the largest changes occurring at night when surface temperatures increased by up to 1.5 degrees.”  So, will those carbon credits be shared or will they both be rewarded with the carbon tax we consumers are paying now and in the future?

Swiss CO2 law defeated at the ballot box means no carbon tax for the Swiss  

The Swiss held a vote on a CO2 law, based on the “polluter pays” principle,”. It targeted “road vehicles, air traffic, industrial emissions, and the renovation of buildings. Those who cut their CO2 emissions would have benefited from exemptions.” Presumably those who didn’t “cut emissions” would pay an emission tax. Switzerland’s government now has a problem as they have committed to the EU they would cut their emissions. 

It was interesting to note “Urban cantons including Basel, Zurich and Geneva voted in favour of the bill.  But 21 of the 26 Swiss cantons struck it down.”  One should suspect had Canadians voted on the recent move by the Trudeau led government to impose the increase to $170/tonne on emissions the outcome may well have turned out similar. Most large urban community voters seem to fail to realize the outcome will drive the cost of living up as the “carbon tax” climbs whereas the rural communities have a much better understanding of basic economics!

Interestingly the nay side “argued that Switzerland will not make a critical difference to global climate efforts since the real game-changers are China and the United States when it comes to reducing CO2 emissions” which many sane Canadian voters also understand.

So, the question is; when will Canadian voters be given the opportunity to vote yay or nay to the carbon tax?

Meteorologist Says Snow in June In Line With Historical Snowfall on Avalon                                          

The forgoing story about snow in Avalon, Newfoundland June 10, 2021 caught my eye due to having recently watched a video with Natural Resources Minister, Seamus O’Regan doing the introductory speech in a video at the launch of the Ottawa Climate Action Fund (OCAF).  As an aside, OCAF is proposing to spend $57.4 billion tax dollars to make the City of Ottawa achieve “net-zero” emissions by 2050. In the opening welcome from O’Regan he opined about last winter stating, “average temperatures of 10 degrees higher than normal in the height of winter” in parts of Labrador suggesting it was caused by climate change. What he failed to say was average winter temperatures in Newfoundland and Labrador can swing widely by as much as 30 degrees so 10 degrees hardly seems unusual. Nevertheless If you’re pushing the “net-zero” theory to justify handing out tax dollars to groups like OCAF you may only want to present information that is one-sided.

The question someone in the media should ask O’Regan is; do you think snow in June is caused by “climate change”?

Centre Block renovation to take until at least 2030 to complete, cost up to $5Billion                     

Another article that caught my eye was once again all about Ottawa and referenced how the renovation associated with the Peace Tower and Centre Block was not only going to cost taxpayers $5 billion but would also not be completed until 2030 or 2031.  One of the strange issues arising out of the renovation had nothing to do with the $57.4 billion the City of Ottawa wants to spend to make the city reach “net-zero” as the Peace Tower and Centre Block are owned by the Government of Canada. The article noted:

It’s being promised by PSPC (Public Services and Procurement Canada) that the renovation will result in transforming the “largest energy consumer and greenhouse gas emitter” within PSPC’s portfolio of federal buildings into a carbon-neutral facility with significant reductions to energy and water consumption.”

I’m sure PSPC has numerous properties emitting “greenhouse gas” but probably none of them are places where so many politicians are present so perhaps, as taxpayers, we were aware of where the largest “carbon emissions” emanate from; when parliament actually sits. 

Putting aside the fact that our parliamentarians spew “greenhouse gas” one wonders why PSPC didn’t look for alternatives to spending all those tax dollars?  Was the only choice to spend $5 billion to make it “carbon-neutral” or perhaps they should have considered buying some of those California “Global Emission Offset Credit’s” priced at US $20.32/tonne for June 2021? $5 billion would buy a lot of those “offset credits”!

PwC to add 100,000 jobs in US$12 billion strategic revamp

An article in the Financial Post last week stated “PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP is investing US$12 billion across its global business in an overhaul targeting better audits, digitization of services and greener operations.” The article went on to note: “The professional-services provider will hire 100,000 employees and develop the skills of existing staff over the next five years as it seeks to respond to the post-pandemic operating environment” and went on to state; “The firm’s spending will also focus on responding to environmental, social and governance (ESG) trends across its operations.” ESG was a creation of the World Economic Forum (WEF) which was founded by the German economist Charles Schwab.  ESG is fully supported by the big four audit firms as it will allow them to increase their audit bills and some of those funds will presumably result in hiring more staff with those (whatever they are) ESG audit skills. It will also allow the big investment firms like Bloombergs, Brookfield, etc. to make lots of money trading those carbon credits that many firms will be required to purchase due to regulations and “Acts” imposed by government bodies at all levels.

My question is related to the foregoing imposition of ESG!  ESG imposition seems destined to make the very rich even richer and those in the middle and poorer classes poorer and is that it’s objective?

A bird stands in the way of India’s green goals  

India has so far escaped the need to impose carbon taxes but they do seem concerned about “climate change” so have been handing out contracts for more coal generation as well as wind and solar generation. This article indicates they have received push-back from the Wildlife Institute of India on the latter contracts and they were successful pushing for buried transmission lines in order to save an endangered bird known as the “great Indian bustard”.  The Supreme Court ruling supported the Institute but now the developers are crying because burying the transmission lines will reputedly increase costs to them by $4 billion.

The question I would have for the Canadian judicial system is why in most cases when similar objections were raised by opponents of wind and solar generation in Ontario and elsewhere did the rulings handed out favour the developers and ignore wildlife proponents?

IESO and OEB join forces to support innovative projects to help meet province’s growing energy needs

The IESO (independent Electric System Operator) and the OEB (Ontario Energy Board) recently issued a Press Release announcing they have formed a new partnership. The partnership “would test the capabilities of Distributed Energy Resources (DERs) in providing services at both the local and provincial levels.” The DER resources they want to test are identified as: Some examples include rooftop solar panels, battery storage units and demand response devices, such as smart thermostats, that help reduce or shift consumers’ electricity usage.”  While industrial wind turbines are missing from the examples one should assume they are part of the mix as approximately 600 MW (megawatts) of their capacity are already part of the DER!  Ontario’s ratepayers have already experienced those “innovative projects” (sarcasm intended) which caused electricity rates to jump over 100% creating energy poverty while driving energy dependent businesses out of the province. IESO will also subsidize those “innovative projects” via their Grid Innovation Fund (GIF) while the OEB will provide “temporary relief” from regulatory guidelines.

My question is; why is the Minister of Energy allowing this to happen when the outcome has already been clearly demonstrated?

Conclusion  

From all appearances it appears confusion reigns supreme throughout the world when itcomes to the question of “climate change”, and the myriad ways governments and their regulators are dealing with it.  It is time realism is deemed important in respect to the global movement to effectively increase energy poverty and for governments to respect scientific opinion that has been tossed aside by the super-rich out to increase their wealth while harming the rest of mankind!

The time has arrived for governments to answer our “climate realism” questions!

Hydro One shareholders make bank as taxpayers get dinged

I was treated to another Marc Patrone radio interview on SAUGA 960 AM to discuss my recent article about Hydro One’s record profit in the 1st Quarter of the current year. We also looked at what the Ford led government has done to try to curb the rising costs of electricity as compared to his pre-election promise to lower rates. The big question is did he deliver or did those McGuinty/Wynne contracts for renewable energy cause him problems?

You can listen to the podcast starting at 1:24:02 of the May 25, 2021 show here:

Or, if you ae a subscriber to NEWSTALK RADIO you can listen 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.

Greenpeace Canada, York University Professor and OCAA Chair attack the Ford Government

The Doug Ford led Ontario government took almost three years since they were given the mandate to govern the province (decimating the Wynne led government) to recognize “renewable energy” is given preferential treatment by IESO (Independent Electricity System Operator)!  What they recently did was to state they would “repeal sections of the Electricity Act, 1998 and the Ontario Energy Board Act, 1998 that were introduced under the Green Energy and Green Economy Act, 2009 to promote and prioritize the development or renewable energy.”  They opened the comment time for 40 days commencing April 15, 2021.

The takeaway of the proposed changes was focused as: “Prioritizing renewable generation is no longer appropriate. Going forward, Ontario will ensure value for ratepayers by allowing all resources to compete to meet system needs.”  

As one would expect pushback from the eco-warriors started and Keith Stewart, Senior energy strategist at Greenpeace Canada (Stewart worked for Gerald Butts at WWF as Director, Climate Change) jumped! He was ticked with the proposed changes in regulations and expressed his distain via twitter:

Keith Stewart@climatekeithDoug Ford isn’t only screwing up the pandemic response. His latest climate move: Proposal to Eliminate Renewable Energy Requirements for Ontario’s electricity system#onpoli https://ero.ontario.ca/notice/019-3471 9:48 AM · Apr 25,

Many will recall Greenpeace lost it’s charitable status in 1999 after having operated as a charity since 1976. Revenue Canada “refused to recognize the new Greenpeace Environmental Foundation as a charity, saying its activities have “no public benefit” and that lobbying to shut down industries could send people “into poverty.” It appears Greenpeace continue wishing to “send people into poverty”, ignoring the governments proposed changes are specifically focused to;  “ensure value for ratepayers”.  

An interesting aside! Greenpeace Canada has evolved and created a new entity having charitable status from the Canada Revenue Agency with an “Effective date of status: 2020-09-02”. The new entity is Greenpeace Canada Education Fund (GCEF).

They claim GECF is: “Separate from the campaigning arm of Greenpeace, the Greenpeace Canada Education Fund invests in scientific research, education, and other activities aimed at raising awareness of the environmental issues that affect people in Canada and around the world.” It goes on to state; ”To maintain our independence and integrity, we never take money from governments or corporations. That means the Greenpeace Canada Education Fund relies on donations from individuals, foundations and other non-profit organizations to achieve our goals.” The foregoing echo the words from Greenpeace Canada’s website but a simple search noted Greenpeace Canada got two grants totaling $100K from the Impact Assessment Agency of Canada a division of the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change so it appears they will take money from governments!

It is also worth noting the new charity and Greenpeace Canada have the same address at 33 Cecil St., Toronto. The December 31, 2019 annual report for Greenpeace Canada claims they spent over $760K on “Public outreach and education” and almost $3 million on fundraising.  They must feel using the new entity will help them reduce “fundraising” expenses due to their ability to issue tax receipts meaning, taxpayers will pick up a good portion of the fundraising costs in the future. 

One should wonder why the CRA changed its mind?      

The other individual who jumped on the bandwagon to condemn the Ford government’s initiative was none other then Mark Winfield*, a York U Professor and former Program Director at Pembina. Joining him with “quotes” in an article posted on “The Energy Mix” was Keith Stewart and Jack Gibbons** of the OCAA (Ontario Clean Air Alliance). The article headline is capitalized and scarily states: “Ontario Creates ‘Innovation Wasteland’ with Latest Renewables Rollback, Critic Warns”.  Some of the scarier quotes from the three individuals in the article are: “allergy to renewable energy”, “evidence-free decision making”, “a political vendetta”, “a program of extermination”, etc. etc. Their concerns seem over the top and aimed at scaring the reader.

Ontarians, who have experienced huge electricity cost increases since the advent of the GEA however, seems oblivious to the unidentified author of the article and the three individuals quoted! Perhaps someone else pays their electricity bills or they have solar panels on their roof or simply, facts don’t matter to them! 

The facts were formerly presented by  Ontario’s Auditor General, Bonnie Lysyk in her December 2, 2015 report which stated: “Between 2004 and 2014, the Ministry issued two policy plans and 93 ministerial directives or directions that did not fully consider the state of the electricity market, did not take long-term effects fully into account and sometimes went against the OPA’s advice.”  The report further described the costs to Ontario’s ratepayers as follows! “In particular, the Global Adjustment fees, covering the excess payments to generators over the market price, cost consumers $37 billion during that period, and are projected to cost another $133 billion from 2015 to 2032.

Those eco-warriors who are dependent on our tax dollars are totally unconcerned about the plan to “ensure value for ratepayers” and instead are hell-bent on further destroying the Ontario and Canadian economies and the well-being of all Canadians!

The time has come to remove the charitable status of them all (including University Foundations)*** unless they dismiss the professors demonizing fossil fuels so they can appreciate what those in the private sector are burdened with!

* For more on Winfield and York University check out this article!

**More on Gibbons and the OCAA here!

***York University Foundation’s (registered charity) April 30, 2020 annual report indicates total revenue of $1.268 billion and a claim that $1.095 billion of that was spent on “charitable activities”.

The Canadian Version of “Dumb & Dumber”

Having just read the press release from the Canada Infrastructure Bank (CIB) on how they are partnering up with ITC Investment Holdings Inc., and using $655 million of our tax dollars to build a 117 kilometre underwater transmission line connecting Ontario with the PJM Interconnection, the 1994 movie, “Dumb & Dumber” immediately came to mind.

ITC is a Michigan based company (subsidiary of Fortis Inc.) and they will own 60% of the project with the balance owned by the CIB.  As a bit of an oxy-moron Michigan Governor, Gretchen Whitmer, is planning to shut down the Line 5 pipeline which supplies oil to Ontario refineries (includes aircraft fuel, etc.), chemical plants etc. in Sarnia, and where propane is produced and supplies Ontario and Quebec farms and households. Line 5 also supplies refineries in the US and homes and farms in Michigan with propane.  Interestingly enough, Line 5’s entry into Michigan is also underwater and is the reason Gov. Witmer wants it closed. What this implies is if Whitmer is successful, it will cause job losses in Ontario while our tax dollars will create jobs in Michigan.  That suggests those in Canada making the decision on this project are “dumb”!

The time estimate to complete the Lake Erie underwater PJM connection is 4 years which would mean it should be operative in 2025,  That year happens to be the same year the Pickering nuclear plants will be taken out of service. Those plants currently provide 2,500 MW of capacity and generally run at their maximum so closure will remove 2,500 MWh (megawatt hours) of supply to Ontario’s ratepayers almost every hour of the day.  Additionally, Ontario’s grid operator, IESO, forecasts the closure will create a supply deficit in the summer months when Ontario demand peaks. One wonders if IESO were consulted or involved in the discussions leading to the CIB jumping on board and if not then it adds “dumber” to the announcement.

The “Endorsements” contained in the CIB press release serve to make the reflections of those quoted look “dumb and dumber”.  Here are a couple of their quotes with some observations! 

First, we will start with Ehren Cory, CEO, Canada Infrastructure Bank who stated: “This project will allow Ontario to export its clean, non-emitting power to one of the largest power markets in the world and, as a result, benefit Canadians economically while also significantly contributing to greenhouse gas emissions reductions in the PJM market. The project allows Ontario to better manage peak capacity and meet future reliability needs in a more sustainable way. This is a true win-win for both Canada and the U.S., both economically and environmentally.”

Had Mr. Cory actually done some research with IESO he may have learned Ontario will be facing a shortfall from the time Pickering Nuclear is closed in 2025 until new reliable power is added, meaning Ontario will not have any of “its clean, non-emitting power” available to export.  How then could it contribute to any “greenhouse gas emissions reductions”? Dumb?

Second, here is what Greg Rickford, Minister of Energy, Northern Development and Mines, Minister of Indigenous Affairs had to say: The Lake Erie Connector demonstrates the advantages of public-private partnerships to develop critical infrastructure that delivers greater value to Ontarians. Connecting Ontario’s electricity grid to the PJM electricity market will bring significant, tangible benefits to our province. This new connection will create high-quality jobs, improve system flexibility, and allow Ontario to export more excess electricity to promote cost-savings for Ontario’s electricity consumers.”

Three years into the portfolio and from the basis of his comments he has still more to learn! Similar to Mr. Cory above it appears Minister Rickford also didn’t speak with anyone at IESO as he suggests the $655 million in Federal tax dollars used to build the Lake Erie underwater transmission line will “allow Ontario to export more excess electricity to promote cost-savings for Ontario’s electricity consumers “.  Had he spoken to IESO they would have perhaps explained we will be potentially facing an energy shortage once the Pickering Nuclear plants are closed. What that infers is we will not have “more excess electricity” to export! Dumb?

Third, this is what Catherine McKenna, Minister of Infrastructure and Communities apparently said: With the US pledging to achieve a carbon-free electrical grid by 2035, Canada has an opportunity to export clean power, helping to reduce emissions, maximizing clean power use and making electricity more affordable for Canadians. The Lake Erie Connector is a perfect example of that. The Canada Infrastructure Bank’s investment will give Ontario direct access to North America’s largest electricity market – 13 states and D.C. This is part of our infrastructure plan to create jobs across the country, tackle climate change, and increase Canada’s competitiveness in the clean economy.”

As one will note Minister McKenna, also famous for attending an illegal cock fight and eating dog pretty well maximizes the fallacies of the prior two quotes illustrated above and expands on them.  Once again, a call to IESO or perhaps a chat with Minister Rickford should have disclosed in 2025 when this project may be complete it would have spelled the end of “an opportunity to export clean power, helping to reduce emissions, maximizing clean power use and making electricity more affordable for Canadians.“  It will do none of those things!  If this is part of their “infrastructure plan to create jobs across the country, tackle climate change, and increase Canada’s competitiveness in the clean economy“ we are in big trouble!

Throwing our tax dollars at a plan that cannot be justified in any way is a total disservice to all Canadians or to summarize, this is both “dumb and dumber” than perhaps anything we have seen before aimed at wasting our taxes.

To paraphrase Mr. Corey; this a true economic loss for Canada and our taxpayers.

What Caught my Eye this Past Week or so!

Not sure if it’s the lock-down or just a normal week but a few things caught my eye because they seemed out of place and interesting.  Here they are!

Russia to Offer Carbon Credits With Far East Digital Forest Platform

I happened to read an article in the Moscow Times (credited to Bloomberg) claiming, “Russia is creating a digital platform to collect satellite and drone data on its vast forests in the Far East with the aim of offering them on the carbon offset market.” What that implies iswhen it launches later in 2021, will allow the government to lease sections of forest to enterprises, which can then invest in planting new trees or protecting existing ones.” 

What came to mind after reading the article is the opportunity something similar could do for Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau who promised that young Swedish “climate change” warrior, Greta Thunberg, he would plant 2 billion trees. The answer to his prayers perhaps, as he has been far too busy at his Rideau cottage to actually plant anything since the pandemic broke. He could also unleash the same concept on Canadian businesses to do what the Russian’s propose as between the Federal and Provincial governments about 89% of the land (almost 8.9 million square kilometers) in Canada is owned by either the Federal or Provincial governments.  He will just have to tell them where to plant the trees.

The other thing that struck me was as Canada’s forests are the 2nd largest (347 million hectares versus Russia’s 763 million) in the world why not make the same claim they did!  Russia claims their forests absorb 38% of their emissions so, based on that premise; Canada’s forests would be absorbing about 140 million tonnes which would bring us very close to our 2030 emissions target.  The Trudeau led government has increased the carbon tax imposed on all Canadians to $170/tonne by the time 2030 arrives so, adopting Russia’s concept would allow them to cancel future “carbon tax” increases.  Yahoo!

IESO Board Determination on a Market Rule Amendment

The second thing that caught my eye came from Ontario’s IESO (Independent Electricity System Operator).  IESO manage Ontario’s electricity grid doing what they can to ensure we are not impacted by brownouts or blackouts as Texas recently experienced. IESO announced: “A market rule amendment proposal to limit the IESO indemnity to losses caused by gross negligence, subject to the current limitations on recoverable damages, was adopted by the IESO Board of Directors and is currently planned to take effect on May 3, 2021.”  

Outward appearances suggest should events (blackouts) similar to what happened in Texas occur in Ontario, IESO want to limit potential lawsuits to actions proving “gross negligence” only!  ERCOT, the Texas grid operator is facing many huge lawsuits due to the winter storm the week of February 14, 2021 so presumably this is what inspired IESO to amend this Market Rule.

 Ontario should follow the recent Texas lead

Texas’s political leaders have reflected on the recent blackout and about two weeks ago, the Texas Senateunanimously approved a bill that would slap fines of up to $1 million a day against electricity and natural gas companies that balk at weatherizing facilities and would set up a system for warning the public about the risk of impending blackouts similar to one now used for hurricanes.”

As one would expect the renewable energy crowd, big tech and the financial institutions are upset about the bill but it appears to be a great idea following the review on the causes of the blackout. 

While Ontario’s electricity system is fully weatherized, the precedents of the Texas bill do open up an interesting possible act here in Ontario.  What is suggested is an act to reduce our costs of electricity!  Our Minister of Energy, Northern Development and Mines, Greg Rickford should consider an act penalizing renewable energy generating surplus electricity during low demand times such as the middle of the night or on weekends.  That surplus energy creates huge losses as IESO are forced to sell or curtail our surpluses (to avoid blackouts) to NY, Michigan, etc. at very low rates which are subsidized by Ontario ratepayers. Those events cause Ontario’s ratepayers to pay considerably more than $1 million a day. Here is an opportunity to reduce those ratepayer/taxpayer costs but let’s up the costs to generators to $5 million per day!

The time has come for Minister Rickford to act and deliver on the promise to reduce electricity rates by the 12% we were told would happen should the Ford led OPC party be elected. Here is the chance for them to prove they meant what they promised to those who voted for them!

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: