Did Jack Gibbons of the OCAA and Bruce Lourie Hijack the IESO via the Rural Ontario Municipal Association?

The IESO (Independent Electricity System of Ontario) on a weekly basis issue a Thursday afternoon bulletin and the latest came with a five (5) minute video executed by Carla Nell, VP of Corporate Relations.  It referenced the ROMA conference held on January 24th and 25th! Curious I wondered over to the ROMA site to view the agenda and postings related to the conference.  I found no postings and the agenda said nothing about what the video inferred.  I was able to find a January 17. 2022 post about plenary sessions and it specifically mentioned “timely issues such as climate change.“ as part of the upcoming conference. Reading further led to the discovery that: “Dr. Bruce Lourie, a best-selling author and environmental policy expert, will address delegates on Tuesday about mitigating climate risk and transitioning to a net-zero economy.”  Alarm bells rang!

Connecting the above mentioned video by Carla Nell of IESO with Bruce Lourie’s reputed “expert” policies immediately had me wondering; was Lourie’s address to the “delegates” related to the OCAA’s (Gibbons) success in getting approval from those 32 municipalities (including most of the largest ones) that Ontario should shut down all of the gas plants?  Those plants have been invaluable in keeping our lights on during the recent cold spells and 60% of Ontario households with natural gas furnaces warm?                      

Lourie and Gibbons go back a long, long way in their actions related to the energy sector. A hearing at the Legislative Assembly of Ontario in respect to the Power Corporation Amendment Act in 1992, has Gibbons delivering a preamble to his remarks saying: “I am Jack Gibbons, an economist with the Canadian Institute for Environmental Law and Policy, before I joined the Canadian institute, I was a staff member of the Ontario Energy Board. I have with me Mr Bruce Lourie

Back in 1992 Gibbons was in favor of natural gas stating to a question asked of him; Natural gas is so much cheaper than electricity. Look at space heating. If we just look at the financial costs — forget the environmental costs — the incremental cost of electricity for space heating is about six times that of natural gas.“ 

At some point Gibbons reversed his beliefs even though both he and Lourie were at that hearing!

So, was Lourie a substitute for Gibbons at the ROMA conference?  Unfortunately, ROMA’s website doesn’t seem to have posted what Lourie’s address was so we can’t really know what he said but with the “net-zero” mention we should be rightly concerned. The video, mentions several scary aspects including eliminating gas fired power plants mere months after IESO’s study clearly reported: 

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

Has IESO and the Provincial Government under Ford suddenly conceded control of the electricity sector to the 32 municipalities who bought into Gibbons sales pitch?

We voters need immediate clarification from all parties running in the Provincial election in June as to exactly what their position is in respect to what the video suggests!

We should not let the eco-warriors hijack the energy sector once again!

The OCAA is Seeking Future Blackouts for Quebec in the Winter

The Ontario Clean Air Alliance (OCAA) under Jack Gibbons was busy throughout 2021 making the rounds of various cities and municipalities throughout Ontario convincing them they should tell the Ford government to close all the natural gas plants in the province.  A total of 32 cities and municipalities joined hands with Gibbons thanks to inept (the only descriptive that made sense) councils and told the government of Ontario to shut those gas plants.  Gibbons somehow convinced them Quebec has a huge surplus of hydro generation that will easily replace those gas plants when our power demand needs them.  Apparently, none of those councils bothered to investigate Gibbons claim.

Gibbons bio indicates he is an “economist” and reportedly “studied economics at the University of Toronto (B.A.), Queen’s University (M.A.) and the University of British Columbia“!  We should have serious doubts about his claim based on the rhetoric associated with his push to close the gas plants. Gibbons comes across like a pitchman selling snake oil in the 18th and early 19th centuries.

If any of the mayors or council members bothered to do even a little research they would have discovered Quebec’s peak demand occurs in the winter.  Hydro Quebec encourage their ratepayers to use less power during the December to March period as 61% of households use electricity to heat their homes versus only about 17% in Ontario.

If the Ford led government in Ontario responded to the OCAA desires the results would have a negative effect on households in both provinces but in particular Quebec due to their peak winter demand*. 

A recent four (4) days of cold winter weather in both Ontario and Quebec dispel the “Gibbons/OCAA” notion!  Ontario was called on to provide considerable power to Quebec over those four days and without the availability of our natural gas plants (most of which were built to back up intermittent and unreliable wind and solar generation) our ability to provide that power would have been close to NIL as our Ontario demand was also relatively high.

Over the four days commencing January 13th through to January 16th we exported just over 106,000 MWh (megawatt hours) to Quebec for an average of 1,104 MW/hour and the peak day was the 16th with an average of 1,410 MW/hour.  Over those four days Ontario’s gas plants generated just over 395,000 MW so we were able to provide our neighbours with what they needed (27% of our gas plant generation) to keep those electric furnaces and baseboard heaters operating so they would avoid blackouts and freezing households.  We provided those 106,000 MW at an average cost of less than 5 cents/kWh based on the HOEP prices over those four days so their cost didn’t drive up Hydro Quebec’s energy prices whereas Ontario’s ratepayers lost money on every kWh exported.

Carbon Credits please

Perhaps Hydro Quebec should either provide Ontario with “carbon credits” or pay the Federal “carbon tax” for the power supplied, allowing us to recover some of the costs for that natural gas generated power to keep them warm. Unfortunately, Ontarians should doubt that will ever happen!

* In Québec, peak periods occur during winter because so many of us heat our homes with electricity.

IWT for Three of 24 Hours didn’t cost Ontario’s Ratepayers

Alerted to a tweet of Scott Luft which stated (referencing January 11,2022); “noticed yesterday’s Ontario Demand high of 21,250MW. Checking I find that’s 2nd highest daily winter peak since 2015“ was intriguing.

Sure enough, when looking at Ontario Demand data at Hour 18, peak demand for the day, at interval 10 of that hour hit 21,522.9 MW (megawatts) and averaged 21,250MW for the full hour!

Looking further at IESO data one notes wind at that hour was operating at 84.6% of capacity and generated 4,024 MWh or 18.7% of that hour’s demand. We also exported 3,436 MWh to our neighbours during that hour!

With curiosity further piqued a look at the HOEP (hourly Ontario energy price) disclosed surplus generation traded at $44.58/MWh at Hour 18, so considerably less than what we were paying for wind power at $135/MWh guaranteed* whenever it’s generated.

While viewing the HOEP data however one notes prices at hours 9, 10 and 11 were respectively $151.60, $230.87 and $160.14 per MW or an average of $180.87/MW.  IWT generation over those three hours averaged only 891 MW (18.4% of capacity) so if one suggests they were all exported for those three hours we actually sold them for more than we paid! Hourly demand over those three hours was over 20,000 MW and thankfully Ontario’s gas plants were at the ready and generated an average of 5,718 MW providing the power needed to keep the lights on and avoid blackouts.

Yahoo, for three hours we ratepayers actually got back $22,700 more than we paid for IWT generation but too bad it wasn’t the full 24 hours as its much cheaper when the wind isn’t blowing!

*Guaranteed “first to the grid” rights.

Ontarians Paid Up Big for Wind Generation while Swedes Paid Up Big for Less Wind Generation

Transmission connected IWT (industrial wind turbines) were busy throughout the province on Sunday, January 9, 2022 and generated 83,086 MWh (megawatt hours) and also had another 9,000 MWh curtailed as there wasn’t enough demand.  What the foregoing means is IWT could have operated at a level of 80.2% of their capacity versus their average generation over a full year of about 30%.

Before completing the foregoing calculation, I had read a short article from December 20, 2021 about Sweden’s recent experience which claimed their electricity prices had soared to an all time high.  The article started with what was obviously the cause stating: “Less wind power than normal, as well as the cost of gas and electricity being on an upward curve in Europe this winter, has had a knock-on effect”.  The article went on; “On Tuesday, the average daily spot price of electricity south of Mälardalen (the region around Stockholm) is set to hit 4.25 kronor ($0.46) per kilowatt hour.” Doing the calculation in Canadian dollars brings the cost to almost $0.59 cents/kWh! That suggests without natural gas plants and the fuel itself available to back up IWT the price of electricity will soar above almost everyone’s ability to pay for it. This results in “energy poverty” increasing in most European countries.

We have seen the same outcome in Ontario although not to the same extent and we should be thankful for our relatively cheap electricity generated by our natural gas plants for the many times our IWT fail!

January 9, 2022 wasn’t one of the times IWT were absent in Ontario as noted in the opening paragraph.  The wind was blowing briskly throughout the province meaning we wound up having to export 61,089 MW to our Michigan, New York and Quebec neighbours.  Presumably they were happy to take it as the average sale price over those 24 hours was $8.82/MWh or less than one cent a kWh (kilowatt hour) meaning we were paid a grand total of $538,800 for those MWh.

To put the foregoing into context the 83,086 MWh were more than sufficient to have supplied the exported MWs and we Ontario ratepayers and taxpayers were forced to pay the contracted price of $135/MWh meaning the cost was $11,216,600.  Adding the approximate 9,000 MWh curtailed at a cost of $120/MWh ($1,080,000) brings the full cost of wind generation to about $12,296,600.  If we rightly assume all of the surplus generation exported at those cheap prices was IWT generation it means the net cost of wind generation was $11,757,800 ($12,296,600 minus $538,800 = $11,757,800).  If we logically deduct the MWh exported (61,089 MWh) from IWT full generation of 83,086 MWh the IWT generation utilized by Ontarians was only 21,997 MWh. 

At a total cost to Ontarians of $11,757,800 those 21,997 MWh providing power to Ontario’s businesses and households cost $534.51/MWh ($11.757,800/21,997MW = $534.51/MWh) or 53.4 cents/kWh. The 53.4 cents/kWh it cost Ontarians is very close to what many Swedish businesses and households are now paying for “Less wind power”. 

Conclusion                        

Industrial Wind Turbines cost the Swedes and many other Europeans a lot of money when they don’t produce power and cost Ontarians a lot of money when they produce too much power. In other words, IWT are detrimental to our economic well-being due to their intermittent and unreliable behaviour!  

Scrap them all!

Wind Hammers Ontario Ratepayers and Taxpayers

Yesterday (January 5, 2022) Ontarians were once again battered by gusting winds approaching 90 km at times and those with ownership of industrial wind turbines (IWT) in the province were loving it!  Our neighbours in Michigan, New York and Quebec, etc. also were pleased as they collectively took 59,242 MWh (megawatt hours)) of the 90,146 MWh generated by those IWT and only had to pay an average of $17.33/MWh (1.7 cents/kWh).

The 90,146 MWh ($135/MWh) added to the 7,800 MWh ($120/MWh) of curtailed wind generation drove the total cost of wind generation for the day to $13,106,000 or $145.39/MWh (14.5 cents/kWh).

Those IWT generated an average of just over 85% of their rated capacity throughout the day (including the curtailed MW) and 58% of their generation was exported for those very cheap prices.  I’m confident the trading companies buying and selling our surplus generation for our neighbours also enjoy the benefits we bestow on them too by creating the trading revenue.  

So, we generated approximately $1,027,000 from the sale of those 59,242 MWh but they cost us Ontario ratepayers and taxpayers about $8,613,000. That means we subsidized the sale with $7,586,000 or $128.00/MWh of our after-tax dollars!  We hope our neighbouring states and provinces are very appreciative of our continuing generosity!

We Ontario taxpayers and ratepayers should appreciate the very recent “mea culpa” expressed by our former Premier, Kathleen Wynne, in her interview with MacLean’s magazine when asked about issues she didn’t feel good about stated: “Well, I score myself very low on the electricity price,” Wynne said.“

Hey, Kathleen, we ratepayers and taxpayers score you and your predecessor, Dalton McGuinty and those minions like Gerald Butts, Katie Telford and Ben Chin who pulled your strings very low too. Perhaps your handling of the electricity file is why the Ontario Liberal Party became the EV (electric vehicle) minivan party. 

The unfortunate part of your party’s demise is Butts, Telford and Chin now pull the strings of the Liberal Party of Canada and seem intent on perpetuating your low scores on all of Canada’s energy security!

Industrial Wind Turbines Once Again Demonstrate their Unreliability

The unreliability of those industrial wind turbines (IWT), touted as a key ingredient to save the world from “global warming” by eco-warriors and obtuse politicians, once again demonstrated their uselessness!

Here in Ontario on December 28, 2021 at 4 AM (the middle of the night) they were cranking out power (when demand was low) generating 69.4% (3,072 MWh) of their rated capacity but by 4 PM in the afternoon when demand was much higher their output was a miserly 1.5% (65 MWh) of their rated capacity.  To add further context to the foregoing at 4 AM IWT were generating about 22% of total Ontario demand but by 4 PM when demand was much higher those IWT were generating 0.004% of Ontario’s demand.

IWTs bad reliability habit means our grid operator, IESO, has a much more complex system to operate with a transmission grid connecting all of those IWT and requiring gas plants to remain “at the ready” when the wind dies down or picks up.  Those manipulations add costs to our electricity system thereby helping to create energy poverty by driving up the per kWh (kilowatt hour) costs for households.  It also serves to drive our manufacturing companies to other provinces and U.S.A. states with lower electricity prices meaning job losses are one of the outcomes.

As if the foregoing isn’t bad enough if one looks at just 9 hours starting at 10 PM (when Ontario demand falls) December 27th through to 7 AM (when electricity demand starts its daily increase) on December 28th we learn we exported 23,514 MWh to our neighbours in Michigan, NY, Quebec, etc. as that IWT generation was surplus to our needs.  We sold those 23,514 MWh for the average price of $17/MWh (1.7cents/kWh) during those 9 hours.  Co-incidently those IWT generated 22,617 MWh during the same timeframe and it also appears we curtailed another 1,100 MWh meaning Ontario’s ratepayers picked up the costs for 23,717 MWh of wind which highlights them as the cause of the exported power at the miserly price of 1.7cents/kWh.

The all-in costs (including curtailed) for the IWT generation over the 9 hours was approximately $3.2 million but we received only $400K in payment for selling a like amount of their generation to our neighbours so; Ontario’s ratepayers and taxpayers picked up the loss of $2.8 million ($311K per hour).  Please note the foregoing loss is from only 9 hours out of 8,760 hours in a full year.

Perhaps as a UK website “Net-Zero Watch” recently suggested to the UK’s Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, Ontario’s Minister of Energy, Todd Smith should take heed and do as they recommend and; “compel wind and solar generators to pay for their own balancing costs, thus incentivising them to self-dispatch only when economic.”

Ontario’s electricity sector needs to rid itself of the costs of IWT’s unreliable and intermittent supply so now is the time to bring in some new regulations to stop the bleeding!

Marc Patrone Show on 960 AM: Chatting about EVs and Wind Turbine’s Bad Habits

I was invited by Marc Patrone to chat with him yesterday on his daily 1 PM to 3 PM show. We discussed the recent plan by Steven Guilbeault, Canada’s Minister of the Environment to “mandate” EV sales and issues related to that plan. We also briefly covered those recent wind storms we experienced in Ontario and its affect on the costs to our electricity supply.

You can listen to the podcast starting at 1:25:30 here:

Industrial Wind Turbines Once Again are Up to Their Old Tricks

Those IWT brought to Ontario by the McGuinty/Wynne led Ontario Liberals, during the time they governed the province, once again showed their ability to suck money from ratepayers and taxpayers pockets on December 12, 2021. 

The heavy winds arrived on December 11th and caused power outages to 280,000 customers due to broken poles, fallen trees and hazardous road conditions as reported by Hydro One.  While the winds decreased somewhat, IESO data indicates they were more than sufficient to allow them to generate 73,849 MWh the following day (December 12th) as well as what looks to be another 2,800 MWh of curtailed generation. The combined cost was approximately $10,306,000 and for 17 of the 24 hours they beat hydro generation.

Naturally, and as often occurs, we didn’t need the generation from those IWT so IESO were busy exporting surplus power for the full day and almost 52,000 MWh were sold to our neighbours in Michigan, NY and Quebec for the average price of $20.03/MWh (2 cents/kWh). What that tells us is we generated about $1,042,000 from the sale of those exports.

If one assumes (with a fair degree of confidence) those 52,000 MWh sold to our neighbours all came from the unneeded IWT generation for the day we basically gave away over $7 million of our ratepayer/taxpayer dollars and paid $388/MWh (38.8 cents/kWh) for the 23,849 MWh of IWT generation actually utilized in Ontario.  

I’m sure the owners of those IWT were delighted we Ontarians were so generous with the handouts we gave them instead of us giving gifts to those many families suffering from “energy poverty” throughout the province.

Perhaps the Ford led provincial government should have a serious look at how some of these wasted dollars could be recovered from the IWT owners to help those Ontario families and small businesses suffering from energy poverty caused by the intermittent and unreliable wind turbines.  

Winds Whips Hydro in Ontario or So It Appears

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

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

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

A quick look at the costs for those 23 hours  

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Norway’s Virtue Signal is Shallow Whereas Canada’s is Harmful

A press release from the Ontario Ministry of Energy, Todd Smith on December 1, 2021 bragged about the province’s support for the “Ivy Charging Network” (a joint venture between OPG and Hydro One).  The press release stated: “The deployment of charging infrastructure will see ONroute locations along highways 401 and 400 equipped with at least two EV chargers at each site, with busier sites equipped with more.“ The press release went on to quote Minister Smith saying; “This deployment will reduce barriers to EV ownership, supporting Ontario’s growing EV manufacturing market.“ Hopefully, the message was simply meant to augment the agreement by the Ford and Trudeau led governments to provide Ford Automotive with $295 million each to save the 5,000 jobs at their Oakville plant by converting it to manufacture EV!

The announcement brought to mind a recent article, with a related video, about Norway and their claim to be “the world’s top market for electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles by market share“!  The article was about testing 20 different models of EVs and hybrid vehicles to determine their loss of “performance” in cold weather (defined as from a high of 3°Cto -6°C). The short video in the article indicated the average loss of performance in that “cold weather” was in the order of about 20%.  Most Canadians would consider that to be classified as; mild winter weather! We should expect our colder winter temperatures would result in a much higher loss of performance should we push for more EVs to replace our dependable and winter reliable ICE automobiles.

Presently about 15% of all registered vehicles in Norway are EVs or hybrids and recent monthly sales of those are now over 80% of all vehicles.  That is seemingly causing some concern as EV and hybrid buyers receive lots of generous tax breaks (ie; the VAT of 25%, free parking, no toll road charges, etc. etc.) which led to a study which “estimated that the popularity of EVs was creating a 19.2 billion Norwegian krone ($2.32 billion) hole in the country’s annual revenue.“  They are suddenly noticing their tax revenues are falling.

Curiosity piqued, if one looks at Norway’s electricity generation one finds it is emissions free with 98% from hydro and 1.7% from other renewables and slightly better than Ontario’s. Annual consumption is 123 TWh (terawatt hours).  On a per capita basis (population of 5.4 million) that means each Norwegian consumes about 23 MWh (megawatt hours).  If one looks at Ontario with a population of 14.6 million, per capita consumption is only 9 MWh for the 132.2 TWh we consumed in 2020 which means the average Ontarian consumes only 39% of the average Norwegian!

I point out the foregoing merely to show if EV sales in Ontario achieve what they are in Norway, Ontario may need a lot more electricity generation at a time when the Pickering Nuclear Station is slated to be shutdown. The Energy Minister’s press release noted as of October 2021 “there are 66,757 EVs registered in Ontario. By 2030, one out of every three automobiles sold will be electric.“ Those current EV registrations are less than 1% of vehicle registrations in Ontario so let us all hope his forecast is wrong!

If we look at Norway and compare it to Canada, we should note they are a major generator of oil and gas with the bulk of it sold to other European countries. In respect to oil and gas production the similarities are striking but while Norway increases their generation of oil and gas to sell to other countries Canada’s current government hamstrings our fossil fuel sector in a variety of ways. Norway’s exports of oil and gas represent about one third of all exports and in Canada’s case it was just north of 14% in 2019.

Interestingly, Canada was among 20 countries that signed on to the COP26 agreement to no longer finance fossil fuel projects abroad but it’s not clear if Norway was one of those countries.  Another article does however note; Norway has lobbied the World Bank to “stop all financing of natural gas projects in Africa and elsewhere as soon as 2025 — and until then only in “exceptional circumstances “ The article’s summary highlights the hypocrisy of Norway by summing up with the closing sentence: “It is antithetical to say you support energy development abroad — but only when it is green — while admitting green energy cannot be the only source. Norway can’t have its cake and eat it too, not when it comes to energy development.”

While Norway’s position is shallow it protects their economic wellbeing as a benefit to their citizens whereas, Canada under PM Justin Trudeau, seems determined to destroy our economy to the detriment of all Canadians!