Why Wind and Solar Owners Love Energy Storage

Yesterday, November 26th, 2022, demonstrated why Ontario’s numerous contracted wind and solar owners are so excited about the Ontario Minister of Energy’s objective to secure 1,500 MW of storage capacity be it pumped hydro or BESS (battery energy storage systems)!

Both IWT (industrial wind turbines) and solar panels generated lots of unneeded electricity over the day based on IESO daily generation report and it was more than they tell us: the reason why, is there are approximately 600 MW of IWT capacity and 2,200 MW of solar capacity that are DER (distributed energy resources) so those are not reported by IESO as their minimum reported capacity per generation source is 20 MW and DER’s generation is used by local distribution companies to supply power to communities they serve.  They also include other generation sources such as small, hydro, natural gas, and biomass!

The day was atypical of Ontario’s spring and fall demand as reflected by the fact Ontario’s peak demand was a relatively low 16,345 MW and it occurred at Hour 18 (hour ending at 6 PM).  Throughout the day the wind was blowing and resulted in IESO forecasting IWT would generate almost 76,600 MW but they only reported about 70,500 were accepted into the grid suggesting 6,100 MW were curtailed.  The foregoing translates to a cost of $732,000 for curtailed generation and $9,518,000 for the grid accepted generation. This resulted in an average cost per MWh (megawatt hour) of $145.39 for IWT generation.

Over the day the HOEP averaged only $7.84/MWh and for hours 12 to 15 was $0.00/MW.  In those 4 hours we saw our neighbours in Michigan, NY and Quebec receive 7,314 MW at zero cost which is about what 813 average Ontario households would annually consume and what 243,000 households would consume daily. If those MW we gave away were generated by ground mounted solar (contracts pay them $440/MWh) the cost would have been $3.2 million and if IWT generation the cost would be about $987,000!

Now, it is worth reflecting on how IWT and solar owners could further benefit from those low HOEP market prices.

If the BESS or pumped hydro storage units are owned by the same companies who generated that surplus power for which they were paid either $440/MWh or $135/MWh (sold for 0.00/MWh) turned around and simply scooped that power up via a licensed electricity trader and stored them they could simply hold them until the price jumped the next day or two. 

All those “storage owners” would need to do is check the weather forecasts to see if the sun will shine or the wind will be blowing in the next day or two.

As it turns out today (November 27th, 2022) is a perfect example of how they could increase their revenue at the expense of Ontario’s ratepayers.  Today the wind is not blowing much, and the sun isn’t shining throughout the province. At Hour 7 AM today the HOEP jumped to $69.25/MWh and since then, has averaged $62.25/MWh meaning those 7,314 MWh at zero cost if sold back would have generated $455,297.  The foregoing would simply add to the revenue those solar panels and IWT generated yesterday at the expense of Ontario’s ratepayers.

It should be recognized yesterday could have allowed them to generate a lot more revenue via storage as the example above only reflected the four hours of $0.00/MWh whereas the overall average for the full 24 hours was a paltry $7.84/MWh or 0.078 cents/kWh.

It seems obvious the IWT and solar generators recognize the unique ability to reach even deeper into Ontario ratepayers’ pockets but what is not obvious is if our Minister of Energy, Todd Smith and the IESO will prevent them from doing so. 

Based on the directive to obtain “a minimum of 1,500 MW of storage” it appears the politicians and bureaucrats may well allow them to do exactly what those IWT and solar owners are hoping for and planning to do!

Marc Patrone Show on Sauga 960 AM on November 22, 2022

I was on Marc’s show today to talk about what is going on with the push to electrify our transportation sector in Canada and elsewhere.  The principal topic we covered was about the tax dollars flowing to support the conversion of our cars and light trucks in Canada and other countries to those electric ones.  We also touched on energy poverty, pipelines and/or the lack of them and the billions of tax dollars governments are handing out.

You can listen to the podcast here starting at 51:20 and ending at 1:08 here:

The Summer Doldrums arrived and wind falls flat

Well, summer has finally arrived and as happens annually, wind falls off with the possible exception of the occasional hurricane’s arrival! 

Once again, wind generations summer fail was evident as on July 7th, 2022 Ontario’s industrial wind turbines (IWT) with a capacity of about 15.6% of total capacity in Ontario was at the bottom of the heap in respect to generation!

As one example Ontario’s peak demand occurred during a five-minute interval at Hour 17 reaching 19,638 MW and the 4,900 MW* capacity of wind generated only 332 MW at that hour representing 6.7% of it’s capacity and 1.7% of demand. To wit:

At peak, generation sources were producing the following:

Nuclear                9,529 MW

Hydro                    5,222 MW

Natural Gas        4,336 MW

IWT                           332 MW

Solar                         207 MW

Biofuel                     115 MW

Total                  19,741 MW

As is obvious from the above the three sources of what are referred to as “new” and renewable (IWT, Solar, Biofuel) energy collectively delivered 654 MW or 3.3% of Ontario demand which clearly suggests without nuclear, hydro or natural gas generation Ontario’s households and businesses would have been living with rolling blackouts at the very least throughout the day.

IESO reported wind’s peak generation occurred at Hour 1 (hour ending at 1 AM) when it produced 462 MW of its capacity (9.4%) and it wasn’t needed as demand at that hour was falling below 13,000 MW. When morning arrived however and demand was increasing at 9 AM those IWT (industrial wind turbines) produced a miserly 57 MW (1.2% of their capacity).

As many Ontarians know IWT under the terms of their contracts have “first-to-the-grid” rights ranking ahead of all other generation sources and if their generation isn’t needed, they are still paid if IESO curtail them. It is worth noting the latter regularly occurs during the Spring and Fall seasons when peak demand is much lower but those Spring and Fall breezes are a part of our normal weather pattern.

 As the Premier Ford led Ontario Government ruling party embark on their second majority governing term we should hope (and pray) he and his minions will actually do something to alleviate the mess in the energy sector created by the Ontario Liberal Party when they ruled the province! 

 Hopefully that is not too much to ask of Premier Ford or to expect during these times of rising inflation caused principally by rising energy costs!

*For some reason five (two are related) of Ontario’s IWT farms are still not yet commissioned even though they have been operating for a few years under contracts signed during the McGuinty/Wynne years. They are: Amherst Island (83 MW capacity), Bow Lake (two with a 58 MW capacity and Henvey Inlet (North & South with a 300 MW capacity).

Marc Patrone Show on Sauga 960 AM

I had the pleasure of being on Marc’s show today (June 13 2022) where we covered a lot of ground. Our chat included what the newly elected Ford Government could do in respect to wind and solar contracts, New Zealand planning to tax cow burps to get their emissions down, the Line 5 pipeline and Clean Energy Credits in Ontario as well as a touching on a few other topics.

You can listen to the podcast starting at 1:09:20 and ending at 1:25:50. Find it here: https://sauga960am.ca/podcasts/

Net-Zero Looking like a No-Go by 2050 PART 1

The past several days has made it look like there isn’t “a hope in heaven or hell” to meet the commitments to reach net-zero by 2050. The promises made at COP-26 will be not be met, unless mankind is back living in caves by that date!  The following highlights several happenings impacting the impossible dreams of our elected leaders. Here are a just few that will also make eco-warriors upset!

Creaky U.S. power grid threaten progress on renewables, EVs

The captioned was labelled as a Reuters Special Report posted several days ago suggesting grid failures are becoming a big problem in the U.S. and caused by “climate change” bringing nasty things like; wildfires in California, hurricanes in the Gulf Coast, Midwest heat waves and a Texas deep freeze.  The author goes so far as to claim; “the seven regional gid operators in the United States are underestimating the growing threat of severe weather caused by climate change” claiming he checked data going back to the 1970s! Had he bothered to go back a little further he may have found heat waves, hurricanes, wildfires and deep freezes are not a new phenomenon that has only occurred during the past 50 years.  He did rightly note the “inherent unreliability” of wind and solar “exacerbates the network challenges” and requires grid expansion to get their generation to where they are needed!  The article goes on to cite the increasing demand for electricity that will be caused by all those EV (electric vehicles) charging their batteries but that means a huge increase in spending on the grid!  He cites John Kerry, U.S. Special Envoy who stated: “We can send a rover to Mars, but we can’t send an electron to California from New York.” My guess is if Kerry had investigated, he would find out New York has no spare electrons to send anywhere and moving that “electron” across the county would cost more than sending that rover to Mars!

A summer of Blackouts

Another recent article related to the U.S. in the City Journal (CJ) co-authored by the editor and a “Fellow” at the Manhattan Institute took a different tact. The article noted “rolling blackouts” will be caused by; “the closure of some coal and nuclear plants, and the unreliability of renewables like wind and solar”.  The article further states “the unreliability of renewables like wind and solar” reduced energy surpluses. The article goes on stating; “That’s left some places with little margin for error during peak usage times in mid-summer—potentially prompting the kind of blackouts California saw last year. The warnings have spurred calls to slow down climate-change-driven efforts to retire nuclear and fossil-fuel generating plants.“ The authors of this article make a more logical argument than the Reuters article as it cites immediate problems presumably inferring building transmission systems to carry an electron from NY to California is not the answer noting: “the Midcontinent Independent System Operator (MISO), which coordinates and oversees the power grid for 15 midwestern and southern states serving more than 40 million people, has noted that the closing of plants representing significant sources of energy had accelerated a shortfall in power reserves, potentially with dire consequences.”  The article goes on to note upcoming problems in several of those midwestern states including Illinois, New Mexico, Utah and Colorado, all of whom, forecast power shortfalls and corresponding blackouts during peak demand hours principally due to plant closures and intermittent unreliable wind and solar.  The article also mentions the drought in California which will reduce hydro generation and suggest that, in itself, may well cause blackouts similar to those experienced last year.

Bundesbank warns Russian gas embargo would cost Germany 5 per cent in lost output

The Russian Ukraine war has exacerbated the global efforts to meet those COP-26 targets as the European Union has moved to stop purchasing Russian oil, natural gas and coal. Germany could see one of the largest impacts as they had become overly dependent on the supply of those fuels from Russia. Recently Bundesbank (Germany’s central bank) warned the embargo could knock 5% (US$195 billion) off of Germany’s GDP effectively creating a recession.  At the same time Germany has reactivated many of their old coal plants to ensure electricity supply certainty.  The latter will not ensure they avoid the falling GDP forecast from Bundesbank nor will it help Germany and the EU reach their “net-zero” emission targets as they will be replacing gas fired plants with coal which is much more emissions intensive. It should also be remembered by all, that Germany had not only closed their coal fired electricity plants but had also phased out their nuclear plants in favour of intermittent and unreliable wind and solar generation.

Kwarteng to classify natural gas as ‘green’ investment to support North Sea

Kwasi Kwarteng is the UK’s Business Secretary under Prime Minister Boris Johnson. One month ago he was quoted stating: “Net zero is the solution to the global gas crisis, not the cause. Expensive gas is the problem – cheap, clean, homegrown energy is the solution,”! The quote was from a speech he delivered at the Harvard Kennedy School.  Kwarteng is now planning on classifying “natural gas” as green and drilling for it in the North Sea as “environmentally sustainable”.  Pretty sure the “eco-warriors” around the world must be very upset about declaring “natural gas” as green and drilling for more is “environmentally sustainable”!

Not to worry about the above though, as right here in Ontario the OCAA (Ontario Clean Air Alliance) got a much different message recently.  The OCAA paid close attention to a recent debate amongst the leaders of four (New Blue Ontario Party and the Ontario Party were excluded) of the Provincial Parties invited to debate and the OCAA were delighted when they heard Doug Ford declare he “will not be happy until Ontario achieves a 100%  zero-carbon electricity grid”!  We should be pretty sure the Liberals, NDP and Green Party Leaders are fully on-board with Ford’s “happy” target!

What the foregoing suggests is that it doesn’t matter which side of the ocean you live on; politicians haven’t got a clue as to what the truth is!  Their preferences are driven by what they perceive voters’ favour and apparently, they haven’t a clue if “climate change” aka “global warming” is fact or fiction or what mankind’s influence on the climate actually is.

Stay tuned for Part 2 in this series!

Bruce Power took their Four “A” Units offline and no one Noticed

The OCAA (Ontario Clear Air Alliance) has been pushing the closure of Ontario’s nuclear plants for years in addition to their more recent effort to gain municipal support for the closure of our gas plants.  They continually suggest the closure of both will not cause problems as we will get all the power those units now produce from Quebec’s excess hydro which is an outright lie. Quebec is a winter peaking province and pushes their residential and businesses to conserve power during that season.  No doubt the OCAA will renew the claim with Bruce taking all four of their “A Units (3,144 MW capacity) offline as part of the requirement to do its Vacuum Building Outage. That will allow OCAA to suggest they weren’t missed! 

The VBO is a regulation as noted in the Bruce press release: “All four operating units must be shut down once every 12 years to allow for inspections and maintenance to the vacuum building.”  The units will come back on line before “summer peaking season” to ensure Ontario has the electricity supply needed.

What is interesting about the units being taken offline is to look at Hour 18 (hour ending at 6 PM) on May 12th!  That time reflects the “peak demand” hour for the day with it reaching 17,179 MW for a five-minute segment.  At that hour nuclear generated 6,758 MW, hydro 6,176 MW and natural gas plants 3,666 MW.  From the three renewables IESO report; solar contributed 97 MW, biomass 50 MW and those IWT (industrial wind turbines) 866 MW so collectively they provided 5.9% of peak hour needs.

Now try to imagine the blackouts we would experience without nuclear and gas or what Quebec might have provided to replace the 57% of generation those two sources did!

As a matter of interest, the IESO “Intertie report” disclosed Ontario even exported 1,408 MW to Michigan and imported 500 MW from New York.  Quebec supplied 115 MW (less than solar and biomass combined at that hour)!  Those imports and exports traded at an average rate of $81.06/MWh which is much closer to their actual cost than when the wind is blowing hard during low demand hours and days driving down the HOEP (hourly Ontario energy price)!

So, Mr. Gibbons, Chair of the OCAA, the “cheap and abundant” hydro you told us Quebec would supply if we shut down our nuclear and gas generation never appeared at Hour 18 so what makes you believe we would be able to do without Ontario’s nuclear and gas generation?  You seem intent at wanting to cause widespread blackouts throughout Ontario!

The time has arrived for the OCAA and its supporters to back off from their spurious claims!

Strange Things that Caught My Eye Over the Recent Week

Should you, as I do, consider recent events to be off the scale of normal, it is worth pondering the cause!  Is it related to the Covid-19 pandemic, climate change, the “woke” generation, government bureaucrats or those in political power or perhaps a combination of some or all of them?  Some recent examples:

Planting Trees in Brampton as Part of Two Billion Trees                                                                             

I’m sure most will recall just before the last Federal election in 2019 our PM Trudeau met with Greta Thunberg and promised her we would plant 2 billion trees.  Well, it appears the process, under the Minister of Natural Resources, Seamus O’Regan has finally started according to a press release on August 4, 2021 which contained the following:

Today, Maninder Sidhu, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of International Development and Member of Parliament for Brampton East, on behalf of the Honourable Seamus O’Regan Jr., Minister of Natural Resources, announced $1,280,000 to the City of Brampton in support of the Government of Canada’s plan to plant two billion trees over 10 years. This project will see 8,000 trees planted across the region this year and contribute to the rehabilitation of the city’s urban tree canopy.”

Quick math on the cost per tree being planted comes to $160.00 each meaning if Minister O’Regan Jr. continues at this level the total cost to Canada’s taxpayers will be $320 billion for the 2 billion trees. Those 8,000 trees will, eventually, absorb about 174 tons of CO2 meaning the cost per ton of emissions removal is about $7,400. Pretty sure O’Regan could have purchased “carbon offsets” for a few dollars each from former Governor of the Bank of Canada, Mark Carney and saved the taxpayers money!

CONFIDENCE IN CHARITY LEADERS HAS FALLEN SHARPLY OVER THE LAST TWO DECADES – WHAT DOES THAT MEAN FOR THE SECTOR?

In late June Charity Village released a report that tracked “four research streams that asked about perceptions of charity leaders over time, representing 27 distinct surveys.” The surveys cited go back as far as 2000.  One of the comments in their report stated: “In 2000, 27% of Canadians reported a lot of trust or confidence in charity leaders, but in the Environics Institute’s research, only 8% reported having a lot of confidence in 2020,”. Another finding was, “between 2009 and 2020, confidence in charity leaders dropped by 22 percentage points, compared to only eight percentage points for business leaders, six for union leaders, and three for government leaders.” The preceding findings may (in my mind) be a reflection of the growth in eco-charities who provide no real charitable benefits to those in need and are well funded by domestic and foreign charitable foundations. The former includes many of Canada’s colleges and universities with departments focused on “climate change”! Needless to say, the drop in confidence has resulted in fewer Canadian tax filers donating: “In 2000, 25.5% of Canadian tax filers reported charitable donations, but by 2018 it was only 19.4%.” 

Toyota CEO Agrees With Elon Musk: We Don’t Have Enough Electricity to Electrify All the Cars

Toyota’s CEO at the company’s year-end press conference in mid-December 2020 said; “The current business model of the car industry is going to collapse. The more EVs we build, the worse carbon dioxide gets…When politicians are out there saying, ‘Let’s get rid of all cars using gasoline; do they understand this?” 

Interestingly enough, Elon Musk, the founder of Tesla just a couple of weeks earlier noted “Increasing the availability of sustainable energy is a major challenge as cars move from combustion engines to battery-driven electric motors, a shift which will take two decades, Musk said in a talk hosted by Berlin-based publisher Axel Springer.”  Musk also said; “electricity consumption will double if the world’s car fleets are electrified, increasing the need to expand nuclear, solar, geothermal and wind energy generating sources.” In respect to “wind energy” it is interesting to note the Global Wind Energy Council in an article claimed, at the end of 2020 there were “743 GW of wind power capacity worldwide”.  To put that in perspective the Federal Government’s “Canadian Centre for Energy Information” tells us at the end of 2017 Canada’s total electricity capacity was 145,214 MW which is only 145.2 GW! 

As industrial wind turbine’s (IWT) life span is around 20 years we should expect about 50% of those in operation globally will reach their end-of-life in the next 10 years and the rest by the time Musk forecasts capacity must double.   Approximately the same life-span applies to solar panel and batteries for storage. Those politicians and Musk should also understand the USA in 2020 generated 60.3% of it’s electricity consumption from fossil fuels!  I would therefore suggest the “politicians” cited by Toyota’s CEO along with Musk himself have no understanding of what EV will do to the electricity system globally and why both are way off base and have no bearing on getting us to “net-zero” emissions by 2050!

Hydro One submits five-year Investment Plan to the Ontario Energy Board to energize life for communities

Just a few days ago Hydro One issued a press release announcing they had submitted a 5 year plan to the OEB (Ontario Energy Board) seeking approval to spend $17 billion over that time to reputedly: “reduce the impacts of power outages for its distribution customers by approximately 25 per centand “enable economic growth and prepare for the impacts of climate change.” The proposed capital expenditures are about double what they have been over the past several years (eg: 2019 was $1.667 billion and 2020 was $1.878 billion).  The press release claims “If approved, the five-year Investment Plan will have bill impacts below the expected rate of inflation, with the monthly bill for a typical year-round residential customer increasing by an average of $1.68 each year from 2023 to 2027.” Reviewing the OEB’s Yearbook of Distributors to get a sense of how those “power outages” compare due to “defective equipment” the 2015 report states the hours interrupted due to “defective equipment” were over 4.6 million hours and in 2019 (2020 report is not yet published) they had dropped to just under 4.4 million hours.  Since 2015 Hydro One’s residential customer base also increased by 60,000 so hours per customer have dropped.

As a former banker I don’t believe the approximately $2 million the 1,2 million residential customers will cough up at the suggested $1.68 annual increase will be sufficient to pay the interest on the $1.9 billion of new debt (the foregoing additional debt assumes Hydro One will maintain is debt to equity ratio at 2020 year-end levels) they will incur annually.  By 2027 it will be a pipe dream!

Let us all hope the OEB does its job for the benefit of Hydro One’s customer base of which I am one.

Let’s thank our lucky stars Hydro One was not allowed to buy Avista

While on the subject of Hydro One it should remind all that back a few years ago they were intent on purchasing Avista Corporation via an all-cash purchase at $53 (US) per share.  The total cost for the all-cash offer was estimated at Cdn$6.7 billion.  The closing price on Avista’s stock on Friday July 7, 2021 and over three years after the purchase offer was $42.67 (US).  At the time the purchase offer was made Glen Thibeault was the Ontario Minister of Energy and was keen on the takeover saying: “One of the benefits of broadening the ownership of Hydro One was to unlock the potential for precisely this sort of transaction,”.  Thibeault went on to say; “As the single largest shareholder in Hydro One, the Ontario government would benefit from the company’s receipt of additional regulated returns expected to begin in 2019. Those benefits will be above and beyond the proceeds already attributed to the Ontario Trillium Trust as a result of the IPO and subsequent secondary offerings.”

Needless to say, those of us who felt Hydro One should focus on Ontario’s ratepayers were delighted US regulators in the states where Avista operated refused the takeover. Hydro One had planned to borrow $3.4 billion and issue another $1.4 billion of debentures convertible into Hydro One shares which would have, in all probability, detrimentally impacted all of their existing Ontario ratepayers.

Conclusion

Unfortunately, it appears those we elect as our representative politicians often are more influenced by those lobbying them continually such as the “climate change” advocates or they bow to the bureaucrats who are the beneficiaries of our tax dollars for their pay. Combine the foregoing with the “woke” generation screaming and their mainstream media support along with the push for globalization and we should unfortunately recognize what is continuing to happen appears to be the “new normal”!  

Ford gov’t drops ball on undoing Liberals green regs

I was invited on the Marc Patrone Show on Sauga 960 AM this morning to chat about my latest post and you can listen to it on the Podcast at Sauga 960 AM. The start time is 28.40 and ends just after minute 40 of the podcast. 

link is:  https://sauga960am.ca/podcasts/

It is also posted on Newstalk Canada as: Ford gov’t drops ball on undoing Liberals green regs and if your are a member you can find it here: