Once Again, Ontario Ratepayers and Taxpayers are Being Told to Hand Over More Money

A recent rate application before the OEB (Ontario Energy Board) brought back memories of when Bob Chiarelli was Ontario’s Minister of Energy and when queried about the costs of cancellation of the planned Oakville TransCanada gas plant stated:  “It’s less than a cup of Tim Hortons coffee a year“!

What brought the foregoing to mind was an OEB application from Wataynikaneyap Power LP for transmission rate increases that (it appears) would apply to all of Ontario’s ratepayers not just those 16 First Nations and their 14,000 residents that will eventually be connected to the power grid.

The announcement made in March 2018 with great fanfare by Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne and Federal Minister of Indigenous Services, Jane Philpott, concerned a $1.6 billion dollar Federal Government grant to build an 1,800-kilometre transmission line(s) to connect those 16 communities. The application submitted to the OEB seeks .20 cents monthly from all Ontario’s residential ratepayers which equates to $2.40 annually so is very close to the cost of an extra-large “timmies”. Over the 40-year estimated life of the transmission lines the total amount paid by all residential households would be approximately $400 million for this application which is a lot of “timmies” coffee. We should suspect the cost will increase as the transmission lines reach further to connect with the 14 other First Nations.  Oh, and an unknown portion of the .20 cents will go to Hydro One. 

The OEB also recently ruled on a significant application from Hydro One related to both their transmission and distribution connected customers. The OEB labeled it as; “the largest and most complicated rate case to come before the OEB.“ The reasoning behind the foregoing comment was because it was “a combined proposed revenue requirement of approximately $20 billion and a proposed investment plan of about $13 billion over the 2023-2027 rate period“ The result of their review and ruling is; all ratepayers will see an increase in rates associated with transmission costs and those who are Hydro One distribution customers will be slapped with an additional rate increase.  

The bill impacts noted by the OEB stated “on the transmission portion of the application, it is estimated that for a typical Hydro One residential customer with a monthly consumption of 750 kWh, the total bill impact averaged over the 2023-2027 period will be an increase of $0.69 per month“. Once again that doesn’t sound like much and will amount to only $8.28 annually but with 4.2 million households it totals around $35 million for the year and over five years becomes $175 million without factoring in the costs to businesses and other large consumers. 

The rate increase for Hydro One’s distribution customers approved was; “ for a typical residential distribution customer of Hydro One with a monthly consumption of 750 kWh, the total bill impact averaged over the 2023-2027 period will be an increase of $2.43 per month or 1.5%.“ For a residential customer consuming 750 kWh monthly the annual cost comes to $29.16 but will be more for businesses, farmers and other larger consumers.  For the approximately 1.4 million Hydro one residential customers alone the costs will be north of $41 million annually and for businesses will be much higher than the $29.16 for the “average” residential customer. 

As is obvious from the OEB announcements electricity rates are going up but, those increases are not because Ontario has added new generation it’s simply to help build new transmission lines to First Nations, upgrade existing ones and their associated infrastructure for the planned “full electrification” of the electricity sector. One should wonder is it meant  to ensure you will be able to charge your EV during our cold winter days.

Hydro One customers may well be forced to reduce their “timmies” intake over the upcoming years!

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!

Is Hydrogen the Answer to Reaching Net-zero—Apparently, it’s not!

The following was sent to me by a contact with the “knowledge, skills sets and experience to highlight the fallacies of pushing the green hydrogen agenda” and it’s related to the concepts of my prior articles about “energy storage”. NB: the knowledge he displays in the following are beyond the scope of yours truly!

Text from the contact!

“Hi Parker

Converting “excess” electrical generation by electrolysers (e.g. as built by Hydrogen Optimized in Owen Sound), will permit wind generators (like Enbridge, K2 Wind, etc.) to operate at maximum possible output even when the electrical demand is low (like at night), so that the proponents (like Enbridge at their “Power to Gas” pilot plant in Markham, or Calsun at their proposed plant at the former Bluewater Youth Detention Centre) can make BIG money producing “green” hydrogen, thereby ensuring lots of Government (i.e taxpayer) support.  

The wind generators (like Enbridge) will be able to be paid full price for their power, approximately $135 a MWh or so, instead of the somewhat reduced rate paid for curtailed power. However, they will be able to buy the surplus at about $0 to $10 a MWh, to produce hydrogen, to add to their distribution system, so when electrical demand is high, they can sell it to natural gas generators to produce power to sell at maybe $200 a MWh.  Yes, they certainly win.  

The consumer, well, let’s see. We’ll pay $135 for the bought wind power, sell it for $10, and then buy it again at $200, so the consumer cost is maybe $125 + $ 200 = $325 a MWh.  (About 4 x the price paid for nuclear generated power in Ontario).  The more surplus we create, the more we’ll be able to sell at low price, and buy back at high price, so the cost for us will go up even more.

Winners = Enbridge, Hydrogen Optimized, Carlsun, and the Government policy hacks who want a hydrogen economy.  

Losers = those who live near wind farms (present and future, as there will be more justified), the electrical consumers, and taxpayers.

You can do a google search for Forbes March, 29, 2022 for their article, “Gas Utilities are Promoting Hydrogen, but it could be a dead end for consumers and the climate.”  Admittedly it is a biased article (every writer has their agenda) and in this case the writer’s agenda is that full electrification of the economy is better for the environment than burning natural gas.

Some highlights from the article, and the logical extension from them:

  • 26 projects to add hydrogen to natural gas lines have been proposed across 12 states since 2020  (so, nearly everybody is doing it!).
  • BUT, the blend can only be from 5% to 20% hydrogen in the natural gas lines  (elsewhere I read 7% max) as consumer appliances can only safely burn a blend up to that concentration.
  • It’s not clear what adding hydrogen to the natural gas lines at the Bluewater Detention Centre will mean to % hydrogen in the lines locally, but the amount added will probably not be huge.
  • Burning hydrogen (H2) produces less energy than natural gas (methane, or CH4) so a 20% blend would reduce greenhouse gas emissions only 6% to 7% as you lose energy in electrolysis.
  • price of green hydrogen will raise price of the blended fuel 2 to 4X above standard natural gas (good for Enbridge, bad for the consumer).
  • burning hydrogen produces water vapour (H2O), a more potent green house gas than CO2, but its residency in the atmosphere is less than CO2, so it is considered to have less impact.  Burning methane (CH4) produces CO2, H2O, and nitrous oxide NOX.  The results are complicated by the fact that methane (natural gas) leaks have an effect some 80X higher than CO2, but it has a less residency time in the atmosphere, so the overall result is considered to be only 25X as much.  NOX has a higher impact yet.  Let’s just say the overall impact of burning H2 is not zero, but it’s probably slightly better than burning CH4.

So is it realistic to consider we’ll have much impact on the environment by producing “green hydrogen”?

in 2020 Ontario’s energy usage was: (figures from Canada Energy Regulator – Provincial Energy Profile), converting all data to Peta Joules for equivalency comparison).

  • 1435 Peta Joules from refined petroleum (gasoline and diesel mostly)
  • 935 Peta Joules from natural gas
  • 514 Peta Joules from electricity (58% nuclear, 24% hydro, 9% gas, 8% wind, <1% solar, < 1% biofuel)
  • 37 Peta Joules from biofuels (wood mostly)
  • 127 Peta Joules from other fuels (like coal & coke)

From the above, we see that in 2020, less than 1.5% of Ontario’s total energy consumption came from wind and solar.  It gives a rough idea of the feasibility of moving all of Ontario “off oil and gas” to all “renewable sourced electricity” by 2050.

So, if we could convert 5% of the natural gas in the distribution system to hydrogen, that would be about 47 Peta Joules, or if we assume 15% loss in the conversion, needing 54 Peta Joules of electricity (more than 1/3 of the total electricity produced).  Let’s just say that’s unlikely.

In passing, let’s just say the probability of converting all new vehicles bought in Canada by 2035 to electrical vehicles, or vehicles powered by hydrogen, to convert that 1435 Peta Joules that come from petrochemicals of gas and oil as called for by federal law is … well remote.  Does anyone ever consider these things before passing laws?  Does not appear so!

The Globe and Mail published an interesting article (attached below) Nov. 25, 2022, noting,that while 72% of all new cars in Norway are electric vehicles, oil consumption in the country hasn’t changed.”

That should be enough numbers to set your heads spinning.  Apologies, but every now and then a dose of reality is needed.

Let’s conclude that the governments are all “hell bent” on producing hydrogen and keep telling us it will make a BIG difference in climate change.  Unh- unh,  T’ain’t; gonna happen, but what WILL happen is that costs for consumers will go up drastically, the results will be minimal, and certain investors will become VERY rich.”

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.

Electric Vehicles Demonstrate Inept Governments via Grants, Mandates and New Taxes

Developed countries around the world are literally throwing money at trying to electrify the transportation sector (passenger cars and light trucks). Canada is no exception as at both the Federal and Provincial levels many announcements and articles have displayed how they have handed out grants to manufacturers of the vehicles, batteries to power them as well as charging stations. Depending on where you are around the world EV buyers receive a variety of incentives, including direct grants, tax breaks (no sales or VAT taxes), low-cost charging stations, etc. all  with taxpayer dollars.

Surprisingly despite all the billions of our tax dollars being handed out Canadians are not buying those EV at the same pace as the rest of the world as an article a few days ago noted: “Statistics Canada data show EVs made up one in 14 new vehicles registered in the first half of this year, compared with one in 20 a year earlier.“ The article went on to state China was responsible for 56% of global sales and for Canada to achieve the 60% sales target for 2030 they would have to grow from 55,600 to about 480,000 over six months to hit that target. Perhaps it has something to do with the fact the Canadian Automobile Association lists 80 EV models with an average sales price of $82,000 and, EV lose considerable range in our cold winters?

Two of Canada’s taxpayers smaller handouts

Lion Electric Company: Back onMarch 15, 2021 a joint announcement made by PM Trudeau and Quebec Premier Legault handed Lion Electric $100 million of our tax dollars and labelled it as an “investment”!  The grant they handed out was 54% of the cost ($185 million) of building a “battery assembly plant” in the Laurentians but labelling it as an investment seems a stretch as, if, and when, Lion Electric generate a profit we taxpayers will not be recipients of dividend payments or appreciating shareholdings.  On the latter note it is an interesting exercise to see how the shares have performed since the grant announcement.  Shares in the entity appear to have had an initial value on the NYSE of US$16.31/share on March 1, 2021, and as of November 18,2022 were valued at US$3.01 a drop of 81.54%! Interestingly Lion recently announced their third quarter 2022 results and stated their revenue was up 244% but losses increased by 316%! Quite the investment!

Taiga Motors Corporation: On July 12, 2021, the Mayor of Shawinigan and the Federal and Quebec Governments announced forgivable loans and grants to Taiga which would allow them to manufacture electrically  powered “personal watercraft, snowmobiles, electric motorization systems and battery packs.“ The collective amount was $50 million (40%) towards the $125.17 million cost of the new plant. Car and Driver tested one of the Taiga snowmobile models in March 2022 and while they didn’t disparage it, they suggested you better not stray too far from your base due to their limited miles range (62 miles for the one tested).  The price was also rather startling with the “Nomad” priced at US$19,490 whereas a Ski-Doo or Polaris model would be in the US$10/12,000 range with much higher mileage. Taiga’s initial share price after their launch in April 2021 was $13.25 and it now sits at $4.00 meaning it has dropped 70% and if one looks at their year over year results their losses as of the 9 months ended September 30th were down from $88.8 million to $35.9 million. Can we really trust politicians to create wealth using our tax dollars to electrify our transportation and other sectors?

As noted, the foregoing handouts were small ones, but we Ontarians have been subjected to handouts by the Ford and Trudeau led governments totalling in the billions aimed at the same goal of electrifying the transportation sector (automobiles and light trucks). They handed out $1 billion to Stellantis, $590 million to Ford $518 million to GM and $260 million to Honda meaning $2.368 billion of our tax dollars were committed to ensure we retain some of the jobs we have had for decades in the auto sector. The province and the feds have also been trying to attract battery manufacturers and will supply LG Energy with $1 billion of our tax dollars as well as an unknown amount to Umicore, a Belgian global metals refiner who will build a battery materials facility.

In addition to the foregoing taxpayer grants, the Federal Government also have the ”Zero Emission Vehicle Infrastructure Program aimed at handing out $680 million to entice people and companies to build “charging and refueling stations”. They apparently see this as “one of the key barriers to ZEV adoption“ but we taxpayers should suspect its related to the average sale price of those EV as noted above and our concern about them losing range during our cold winter days.

What’s happening elsewhere? 

Norway: A recent article; “Norway Became an EV Paradise, Now It’s Imposing a Weight Tax and Bringing  Back the VAT“ noted upcoming legislation in Norway will rescind most of the favourable benefits that have made it the country with the highest EV sales per capita. The new legislation will remove the many perks granted to EV buyers displayed in a graft posted in an article a few months ago. The VAT in Norway alone will add 25% to the purchase price of an EV and the weight tax another 2/3%.  As that occurs, we would expect, the 78 % EV sales have so far represented in 2022, will fall, as they will cost considerably more than a new ICE vehicle once those new taxes become legislated.

United Kingdom:  It appears the UK has recently become  concerned  the net zero target may well lead to “five fuel taxes: fuel duty, vehicle excise duty, landfill tax, the carbon price floor and the emission trading schemedrying up according to an article in the Financial Times!  As a result of that concern a “tax vacuum” will be created during a time when the country is running significant deficits so, as a start, they plan to charge EV owners with the vehicle excise duty.  Grants being handed out are also on a downward trail as purchase grants for new EV have been reduced from £5,000. to £1,500.

Targeted EV sales in Canada

The 2022 Federal budget expanded the push to electrify the transportation sector in Canada requiring 20% of all vehicles sold in Canada to be EV by 2026, 60% by 2030 and 100% by 2035. In addition, the budget extended the $5,000 per vehicle grant to help achieve those targets. Annual new auto sales in Canada vary between 1.5 million to 2 million so by 2035 at the low end $7.5 billion of our tax dollars will possibly wind up supporting those “mandated” sales. The other issue relates to lost sales taxes etc. from ICE vehicles as outlined in a January 17, 2022 article, published by the CPA (Canadian Professional Accountants), noting: “The federal government collects nearly $6 billion per year in gas and diesel excise taxes, not including the GST or HST on those purchases. Add in provincial fuel taxes and over $16 billion in annual government revenue that will disappear once Canadian drivers are weaned off the gas pump. It’s enough to rip a large hole in public finances.“ It is worth pointing out the CPA article was using 2021 data and the price of both diesel and gasoline have climbed considerably since then meaning the revenue lost added to government grants will increase taxpayer costs to over $30 billion annually.

Conclusion:

Looking only at the Trudeau led government’s plan to electrify the transportation sector in Canada demonstrates their inept ability to govern the country responsibly due to their insane belief Canada’s emissions reduction from the transportation sector will impact the climate. Not a chance!

High Carbon Prices sure Appear to Create Energy Poverty

A recent chart was posted by the OECD (Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development) whose membership consists of 38 “high income” democratic countries. The chart lists countries around the world with a “carbon pricing instrument” for the year 2021 with the lowest (Brazil) at the top and the highest (United Kingdom) at the bottom.  Canada was ranked as the sixth (6th) highest and four of the top six were European countries (Germany, France, Italy, and the UK) and the only other one in the top six slightly outranking Canada was South Korea!

The chart coincidently popped up when doing research on how countries were reporting on “energy poverty” amongst their households/populations.  All energy costs have risen considerably higher than they were even a year ago as we; in the Northern Hemisphere, face the upcoming winter so we should be concerned about how those higher energy costs will affect the general population.  Viewing the chart suggested a look at the six (6) countries, who have imposed the highest “carbon price”, to see what their “energy poverty” data disclosed. Data was not readily available in all cases but what was available told the story that “energy poverty” certainly affects a large percentage of the population in all six of those countries except for South Korea where no specific “energy poverty“ data could be found!

 Energy poverty country by country NB:

Korea:  A search demonstrated no articles or studies defining the percentage of households suffering from “energy poverty” but it is worth noting South Korea imports 95% of its energy needs so we should suspect “energy poverty” is high.  Korea’s overall poverty rate is estimated to be 15.3% by Statista as of the end of 2021 so we would expect a similar percentage of their population would be at or close to that level in respect to “energy poverty”!  

United Kingdom: There are many articles and research papers related to “energy poverty” in the UK and a recent report from the University of York states: “More than three-quarters of households in the UK, or 53 million people, will have been pushed into fuel poverty by January 2023, according to a new report authored by York academics.“ The article about the report goes on to note: “On 26 August Ofgem (Ofgem is the energy regulator for Great Britain) announced the energy price cap will increase to £3,549 per year from 1 October 2022. The electricity and gas price cap will rise again in January 2023. The size of the January increase has not yet been announced, but it is expected to take bills to £4,200 per year, with some sources predicting even larger increases.“  It’s worth pointing out the OECD chart claims the UK has the highest “carbon pricing instrument” which currently is 136% higher than Canada’s. With our rates scheduled to rise by $15/tonne annually it won’t be long before our rates surpass those of the UK. 

Italy: The above chart indicates Italy has the second highest carbon price in the world but there seems to be relatively scarce recent information reported about “energy poverty”.  One article from September 3, 2022 did disclose “One in six Italians, or up to nine million people, could sink into energy poverty due to soaring bills across the EU, Italy’s ANSA news agency reported on Saturday, citing the Italian General Confederation of Crafts.“ The foregoing suggests 15.3% of Italy’s current population will be or are now suffering from energy poverty. The article also notes: “Italy’s Ecological Transition Minister Roberto Cingolani planned to ask the entire population to turn the heating down, starting from October. Italy has already introduced some limits on the use of central heating in public buildings and apartment blocks, and these are expected to be tightened under the new measures.“  The article goes on to say: “Italy’s Serie A football league announced plans to put a four-hour limit on the use of floodlights in stadiums on match days, as part of energy-saving measures“. Does that suggest future games will be played partially in the dark or only during daylight hours?

France: France shows up on the chart as the country with the third highest carbon price and there is a fair amount of data about “energy” and “fuel poverty”!  One study titled “Energy Poverty in the EU” notes “the inclusion of transportation increases the energy poverty rate in France from 18% to 21%. This is particularly relevant as CO2 prices and thus fuel prices are expected to further increase to protect the environment and combat climate change.“  The foregoing indicates as many as 14.3 million people in France are experiencing “fuel poverty” whereas another article suggests in 2019 there were 3.5 million households facing “energy poverty”. Residents per household in France is lower than most countries with only about 2.4 residents per household suggesting, at that time, about 8.4 million were experiencing “energy poverty”!

Germany: A very recent article about “energy poverty” in Germany contained the following rather disturbing statement: “One in four Germans (approximately 21 million) are currently energy impoverished, up from one in six in 2018. The poor and disenfranchised are far more likely than others to slip into energy poverty. A member of Germany’s lower-middle class is now twice as likely to fall under the “energy poor” category compared to only one year ago. The German government is scrambling to ease the pressure of increasing prices for suppliers and consumers. “  The article says Germany is doing the “scrambling by various means such as: “One of Germany’s efforts to curb energy poverty is through reducing the use of natural gas, through both energy-saving measures and switching to different fuels. Most public buildings are lowering their thermostats, and monuments will no longer be lit at night. Heated swimming pools are banned. Germans are being encouraged to take cold showers. The government is also reducing taxes on other forms of fuel, giving discounts to people who switch to public transportation, and reopening old coal power plants.

Canada: Once again it is difficult to locate recent reports or articles related to how many households or individuals in Canada are experiencing “energy poverty” though yours truly has tried on numerous occasions over the past many years.  Natural Resources Canada published a 145 page “2021-2022 Energy Fact Book” which has one page (#37) providing a chart for 2019 suggesting “energy poverty” affected just 6% of Canadian households.  The foregoing would mean 1,060,000 households and with 2.9 people per household would be, 3.1 million Canadians (8.5% of our population) who experienced “energy poverty” in 2019!  One should suspect; as the data is from 2019, it came before energy prices from natural gas, electricity, furnace oil, propane, etc. jumped to current levels as pointed out in a very recent article.  Amusingly the NRCan report on page 38 notes “Canada’s energy prices in 2019 are relatively low” with comparisons to [surely coincidental to the OECD chart] France, Germany, Italy, and the United Kingdom. The only outlier was the USA and the latter beats Canada except for “electricity” costs possibly due to Quebec’s low hydro prices.  

It is interesting to note countries with the highest “carbon pricing instrument” in the G20 are those countries where energy poverty is the highest and Canada seems to be quickly heading in the same direction under the policies of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his minions such as Ministers, Freeland, Guilbeault and Wilkinson.

Surely with our carbon price scheduled to rise to $170/tonne by 2030 and the push to shut down fossil fuel extraction and generation it won’t be long before Canada’s “energy poverty” rates surpass those of the UK, Germany, etc. and Canada will be able to claim the title for both “highest carbon price” and for highest percentage of people living in “energy poverty”. 

Quite the legacy PM Justin Trudeau will leave our children and grandchildren!

NB: The data found in some cases specifically was related to “energy poverty” but in other cases it was referenced as “fuel poverty” which presumably includes fuel travel costs in addition to energy required by households.

Blackouts on the Horizon for Ontario?

The OCAA (Ontario Clean Air Alliance) joined with Environmental Defence and 23 other eco-warriors to sign a letter dated October 26, 2022 addressed to PM Trudeau and copied to Ministers Guibeault and Wilkinson. Needless to say, the letter is full of claptrap claiming: “Ontario can avoid the need for new gas plants and lower its electricity costs by up to $290 billion by investing in zero-carbon options to keep our lights on, including solar power, energy storage and smart efficiency programs.”

It is obvious those who claim those “lower electricity costs” fail to recognize the intermittent and unreliable nature of wind and solar “zero-carbon options” that can easily lead to rolling blackouts.

The foregoing was demonstrated via IESO data yesterday (October 27, 2022) as at Hour 1 those IWT (industrial wind turbines) were busy and generated 2,766 MWh (56% of their capacity) when Ontario’s  demand was very low at only 12,021 MW. By Hour 15 with demand at 14,210 MW those IWT generated a miserly 45 MWh or less than 1% of their capacity.  If we were in mid July or August demand at Hour 15 would have been in the 18,000/20,000 MW range so without gas plants or the 3,000 MW of Pickering Nuclear; currently offline for a VBO (vacuum building outage) we would have experienced blackouts throughout the province.

 Ontario’s peak Hour for October 27th came at Hour 19 reaching 16,592 MW and while IWT had ramped up a little they only managed to generate 279 MWh or 5.7% of their capacity and 1.7% of demand.  As one would surmise, solar was absent at Hour 1 and absent at Hour 19. At Hour 15 Ontario’s natural gas plants were generating 1,910 MW, hydro 4,007 MW and nuclear 6,628 MW and at Hour 19 they were respectively generating 2,604 MW, 4,983 MW and 6,642 MW.  Hour 15 also had IESO importing 1,703 MW, principally from Quebec but by Hour 19 we were importing 2,763 MW (16.7% of demand) from Michigan, NY and Quebec and even a little from Manitoba.  Thankfully those imports, coupled with gas and hydro generation saved us from rolling blackouts but as Quebec is a winter peaking province, we shouldn’t anticipate they can supply us during high demand winter days so hopefully the 3,000 MW of Pickering nuclear will be available on the upcoming cold winter days!

As an aside hydro has been a major source of generation during the Pickering VBO and perhaps is the reason Lake Ontario is currently 23 centimetres below it’s average level as noted by the US Army Corps of Engineers despite recent heavy rainfalls.  This heavy hydro generation could well mean it will be less available during the coming winter so we should pray for Pickering’s return to action and for those gas plants to be at the ready.  Also, as noted above, Quebec is a winter peaking province and Hydro Quebec encourages all their customers to be mindful of that, telling them: “In very cold weather, it’s best to reduce your electricity use during peak periods to avoid putting more pressure on the grid.“

IWT and solar cannot be counted on to deliver power when it is needed due to it’s intermittent and unreliable nature.  At the same time those politicians, et al, should become cognizant of the fact our neighbouring sources of imported power cannot be counted on to deliver what we may need to keep the lights on and our businesses operating during cold winter days or hot summer ones.

In summary, yesterday should be recognized by our politicians as a fortunate occurrence as we avoided a blackout. They should ignore the cultists such as those charities like the OCAA or Environmental Defence who continually fail to conduct proper research and push their net-zero” emissions are bad agenda!

Many well accredited scientists have shown conclusively that mankind’s emissions have little effect on Mother Nature’s climate events!

With COP 27 Around the Corner the Push to get us to Net-Zero is Mind Blowing

The UNFCCC (United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change Conference) or COP-27 is just around the corner and will be held in the Egyptian resort town of Sharm El-Sheikh in November (6th to 18th).  Tens of thousands of bureaucrats from around the world will be in attendance including (we must assume) hundreds from Canada including many from the Trudeau led governing party along with many from charitable institutions labelled (personally) as eco-warriors!  The very first COP (conference of the parties) was held in 1995 so for 27 years the concept that “mankind is responsible for climate change” has endured and we should all suspect; this upcoming conference will be no different! The race to achieve “net-zero” is progressing at a snail’s pace without the negative consequences continually professed by them! The developing countries in attendance will be seeking trillions of dollars from the developed nations to help them transition to that elusive “net-zero” target!

In support of the foregoing, Canadian eco-warriors living off charitable donations and government funding from coast to coast to coast are undaunted and continue to push their agenda believing mankind’s use of fossil fuels should cease. They do this seemingly, without the ability to weigh scientific facts against their angst and as each COP gets close, they ramp up their “end of the world is coming”, rants! Needless to say, COP 27 has raised their ire once again so let’s look at just two of the most recent apocalyptic rants from the climate cult.

The “Green New Bill”

A recent article appearing in “Branding.news” suggests if the federal government invests $20 in a “green and just recovery” it will mean: “$307.85 would be contributed to Canada’s GDP within 10 years”!  It also includes a video of less than two minutes outlining how and why that would happen.  “The banknote was designed with a coalition of Canadian grassroots groups including the Green Budget Coalition, the Strathmere Group, CAN-Rac, Corporate Knights, and the Task Force for a Resilient Recovery, led by the David Suzuki Foundation“.  Needless to say, the aforementioned “coalition” members have been around for years, and most have been included in previous findings pushing the “climate change” agenda. They have coalesced on numerous occasions using grants from cult supporting charitable foundations to push their views on government policy makers with great success!  The article includes a link to an Instragram AR filter to allow you to see how they calculate that $20 investment will translate to become the $307.85 in 10 years. A quick review suggests the overall concept has nothing to do with common sense or economics and is strictly cultist forecasts by the eco-warriors pushing us to eliminate the use of fossil fuels for the past 27 years.

Act Now to Expand and Decarbonize our Electricity System

Wow, it’s apparent Armageddon must be just around the corner or perhaps by 2035 or 2050 unless we electrify everything and end all use of fossil fuels if one is in agreement with a recent letter sent to the Prime Minister and Provincial and Territorial Premiers signed by 25 organizations.  The letter was reportedly signed by the David Suzuki Foundation, Pembina Institute, Blue Green Canada, CanREA and many others including the Canadian Chamber of Commerce, Electricity Canada, Mining Association of Canada, Global Automakers of Canada, etc. etc.  It seems very strange; capitalist associations have joined forces with eco-warriors pushing the net-zero agenda!  The letter makes many recommendations warning about our commitment to achieve “net-zero” emissions in only 28 years and how we must “prioritize the transformation of our electricity system”. The letter states the foregoing should be accomplished by procuring “non-emitting electricity generation” and the “build out of new transmission infrastructure”.  It also suggests “Increased use of electricity throughout the economy can also ultimately lower total energy costs for consumers – provided we act now to plan and implement the changes required in our electricity system.“  The letter doesn’t say how the foregoing will happen or once mention anything about estimated costs or who will pay for their recommendations.  This letter suggests we are living in strange times as pushback is lacking from those who will be most affected along with the dubious claim as to how it will lower energy costs for consumers. This was the message doled out by the UK, Germany and the EU and they are now living through what they have wrought on their citizens driving millions into energy poverty with skyrocketing electricity prices.  At the same time those increased energy costs have pushed up their inflation rates further damaging their economies.

Realism Versus Cultism

Some recent events strongly suggest the “net-zero” push may be similar to the Attenborough false claim back in 2019 when he suggested walrus’s falling off cliffs were caused by “climate change”.  Shortly after he made it, his claim was easily debunked by individuals with skill sets he lacked!  Could the same thing happen to the eco-warriors and those who have joined the fray for the net-zero push?  A few recent events suggest it is probable.

1.Germany is Dismantling a Wind Farm to Make Way For a Coal Plant was one such article posted October 26, 2022, which strongly suggests Germany is facing a bad “energy short” winter. For that reason, they are firing up three of their previously shuttered 300 MW capacity coal fired electricity plants.  As it happened the lignite coal mine is where a wind farm was located presumably back in the days when Germany was hell bent on managing their economy using wind and solar as their principal source of electricity generation.  My, how times have changed!

2.Yet another article on October 26, 2022, in the Financial Post referenced a recent poll conducted by Leger in respect to support for Europe in the form of our enormous supply of oil and gas and 72% of respondents supported the development and export of our oil and gas to reduce their dependence on Russia.  The article went on to state; “The Trudeau government seems to have taken its marching orders from the 13 per cent of Canadians who are either “strongly” or “somewhat” opposed to exporting more of our oil and natural gas.” Does Trudeau really believe him, and his minions are doing a good job at managing our economy with polling numbers showing support for just one of his policies at 13%?  Time for him to wake up and smell the roses!

3. Another recent shot at the impact of renewable energy with a US focus was articulated by Jeff Currie, economist, and Global Head of Commodities Research at Goldman Sachs in an interview on CNBC’s Squawk Box.  Currie stated in respect to the USA: At the end of last year, overall fossil fuels represented 81% of energy consumption. 10 years ago, they were at 82%. $3.8 trillion of investment in renewables moved fossil fuels from 82% to 81% of the overall energy consumption.”

Summary:

Canada contributes 1.6% of global emissions so no matter what we do, China, India and other developing countries will replace them quickly and well before we achieve our targeted reduction.

What the foregoing should communicate to our leaders in Canada and in the developed world is to expect a pushback from the developing countries at COP 27 and the “net-zero” push!  They will either need to promise trillions of dollars of support to the developing world countries or back away from the concept fossil fuels are the engine controlling climate change.

 

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

Hydro One Survey

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hey, Minister of Energy Smith, Clean Energy Credits Should Benefit Ratepayers

Many Ontarians were pleased Premier Ford recognized (sort of) inflation was harming us and gave us short-term (6 months) relief from the sales tax on gasoline of 5.7 cents a litre. In the interim with high inflation driving everything up we should be pretty sure the foregone taxes were or will be fully recovered from sales taxes applied to everything else we consume. The tax relief started on July 1st and ends December 31st, 2022.  Looking at the recently released 2021-2022 Public Accounts it is obvious why he did that. Sales tax revenue from April 1, 2021, jumped from $26.6 billion to $30.4 billion by March 31, 2022, an increase of $3.8 billion (14.3%) so, presumably, sales taxes played a role in driving up inflation while increasing the government’s coffers to allow them to achieve an unplanned surplus! 

It is interesting the Ford led government chose just one of the many sources of energy we regularly use for the gesture and ignored “electricity” which is consumed daily by almost all businesses and residents in the province. Perhaps he was of the opinion the Ontario Electricity Rebate (OER) was more than we deserve as the Provincial sales taxes on our electricity bills represent only 76.5% of the OER but it only applies to residential users! If that’s the case, he ignores the fact; those who pay the costs of that rebate are present and future taxpayers who will have to pay the accumulated debt from the OER.  Kind of “in one pocket but out of the other one” tax!

Worth considering and related to the foregoing is the recent announcement by OPG stating they will be selling “clean energy credits” to Microsoft in a “firstof-its-kind deal”! 

One should wonder, will Microsoft be charged sales taxes for something intangible that will serve to improve their ESG (environmental, social and governance) disclosure scores? Those will reputedly be OPG’s “carbon-free hydro and nuclear assets”.  That seems quite strange as Ontario ratepayers (residential and businesses) already purchase the power that OPG hydro and nuclear provide in addition to: those contracted parties of unreliable and intermittent wind and solar generation also claiming to be “carbon-free”.  We ratepayers pay for the power to keep lights on and our manufacturing base, offices, restaurants, etc. etc. operating. We are also burdened to pay the power bill for our hospitals, schools, etc. via our taxes and obliged to pay sales taxes on what we consume.

What is particularly annoying, as a ratepayer; was, what the article noted about the revenue generation from those “clean energy credits”: “OPG said revenue from the credits would also help OPG in its own commitment to achieving net zero as a company by 2040. The funds received will either go toward investments in new clean generation in Ontario, back to the ratepayer or back to the taxpayer through the province.”

From all perspectives the funds generated for the province by OPG are already substantial as OPG’s December 31, 2021 financial statements indicate. OPG’s water rental costs were $415 million (paid to the province) including $26 million for spilling water during SBG (surplus baseload generation) situations plus $239 million in pseudo income taxes. Collectively that was $654 million.  What is missing from the foregoing however is the 7% sales taxes we ratepayers paid for the 77.6 TWh (terawatt hours) OPG generated and produced gross revenue of $6.877 billion. When that OPG generated power was delivered to us ratepayers we paid the sales taxes, and the province earned another $481.4 million giving the province $1.135 billion for our (taxpayers) investment in OPG.

It should be recognized the foregoing $1.135 billion doesn’t include OPG’s “Net Income Attributable to Shareholder” ie: the Province of Ontario; which was $1.325 billion. That means the “Province” claimed $2.460 billion for the 77.6 TWh OPG generated and delivered. The combined revenue added 3.2 cents/kWh to what we ratepayers consumed. The $2.460 billion is about six (6) times more than the savings of 5.7 cents a litre (approximately $400 million) we will save for the six months of a slight reduction in costs when filling our ICE vehicles with gasoline.

The return on OPG’s equity (December 31, 2021 was $15.532 billion) and the RoE (return on equity) is set by the OEB (Ontario Energy Board) at 8.4% so at $1.325 billion it is very close to the setting, however, if one adds the additional revenue the Province generated it becomes a collective RoE of 15.9% and above what most private sector power companies would hope to achieve! Unfortunately, no one sets the allowed “return on equity” for the province and there is no competition to keep rates down!

One should hope the Ford led ruling party will finally recognize their role in the gouging of ratepayers and ensure any revenues generated by the sale of those “clean energy credits” by OPG finds its way to reducing ratepayer bills rather than further spending by OPG or the province.