Ontario electricity customers paid millions for wind in November

January 14, 2017

strongwindweather

The line of poetry “it’s an ill wind that blows nobody any good” was a reality in November for Ontario ratepayers. The IESO (Independent Electricity System Operator) finally released their November 2016 Monthly Market Report on Friday, January 13, 2017 and there was not much good news in it.

While net exports* were down compared to the same month in 2015, it wasn’t related to the amount of wind power generated and curtailed (estimates of the latter from Scott Luft); that exceeded November 2015 by about 152,000 megawatts (MWh) and clocked in at 1,363,000 MWh.  Generated and curtailed power exceeded Ontario’s net exports in 2015, representing 102.7% versus 72.9% the previous year.  One should suspect November 2016 also saw spilled hydro and steamed off nuclear, but at 102.7% of our net exports, it is obvious that power generation from wind was clearly not needed.

November 2016 was not the month with the highest combination of generated and curtailed wind, but rather the second highest. The highest, according to Scott’s estimates, was December 2016, but we will save that report for another day.

Exported power could have served half of Ontario

Net exports in November 2016 were equivalent to the power that approximately 150,000 “average”** Ontario households would use in a year, or to put it another way, was sufficient to supply 2.4 million of those same households for the whole month of November. That is slightly more than 50% of all Ontario households.

The net exports of 1,326,960 MWh in November 2016 cost Ontario ratepayers $169 million to generate and sold at an average price of $16.69 per/MWh, resulting in income of  $21.4 million.  What that means is, Ontario’s electricity ratepayers subsidized the sale, picking up the difference of $l47.4 million, along with another $30.8 million for the 254,000 MWh of curtailed wind.  Past and present Energy Ministers in the Wynne-led government would probably claim the deeply discounted sale price for those exported MWh was actually a “profit” but most ratepayers recognize that claim to be untrue.

Cancel the contracts

Current Energy Minister Glenn Thibeault has a chance to make his mark by halting all planned acquisition of wind power generation in LRP I and LRP II, as well as cancelling any wind power projects that have not commenced construction, or which have passed their critical “operational” dates.

Time to treat industrial-scale wind power development as that “ill wind”!

© Parker Gallant

*Net Exports are total exports less total imports.

**The Ontario Energy Board claims the “average” Ontario household consumes 9 MWh annually, or 9,000 kilowatts.

 

 

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Energy stakeholders to the Wynne government: the new plan should focus on costs

January 11, 2017

Last October, Energy Minister Glenn Thibeault launched the “Discussion Guide to Start the Conversation” with the objective of “Planning Ontario’s Energy Future”. The Long-Term Energy Plan or LTEP when presented in 2017 will be the sixth LTEP (including 1 and 1[a], discarded by Smitherman) developed by the current government in the past nine years, which says a lot about “long-term” planning.

Naturally when an opportunity to contribute to policy comes along, organizations offer their views on the direction the plan should take. I have prepared a review of some of the comments made to the Ministry of Energy on the LTEP.

First we have Robert Hornung (MA, Political Science), president of wind power trade association and lobbyist the Canadian Wind Energy Association or CanWEA, who suggested “The only way to meet those goals [reducing carbon emissions] is to increase the use of electricity, particularly electricity generated from sources that don’t emit carbon. Wind is well-positioned to meet that need.”

Then Jack Gibbons (former Toronto Hydro commissioner) of Ontario Clean Air Alliance said: “While the world shifts to green sources, Ontario is doubling down on nuclear, rebuilding ten aging reactors, while pushing renewable energy to the fringe. This is a bad plan and an economically disastrous direction . . . Ontario should set a target or moving to 100 per cent renewable energy by 20150.” [sic]

Now that is what I call “long-term planning”!

On the other hand we have organizations who are interested in ensuring electricity rates stop rising at multiples of the inflation rate.

Canadian Federation of Independent Business – The CFIB suggested in their comments to the Energy Ministry that “Ontario Hydro rates are out of control”; they met with the Minister of Energy and made the following recommendations.

• Eliminate all time-of-use (Smart Meter) rates for small businesses and implement a lower cost rate system on the first 3,000 kilowatt hours (kWh) of electricity consumed per month.
• Accelerate the removal of the Debt Retirement Charge from commercial hydro bills, which is currently slated for April 1, 2018.
• Require the display of the “Global Adjustment” on all hydro bills to increase transparency.
Canadian Taxpayers Federation – The Canadian Taxpayers Federation website posting shows their concern:
“If Hydro Rates are ‘Urgent Issue’ for Wynne, She Must Repeal Green Energy Act” and also, “Ontario customers have seen the largest increase in electricity prices anywhere in Canada – more than 60 per cent higher than the national average between 2006 and 2015.”

Ontario Chamber of Commerce – The Ontario Chamber of Commerce (OCC) were more subdued but their report of July 2015 commented: “The price of electricity is a major factor in the overall cost of doing business for many companies. As such, it is also a critical component of a jurisdiction’s competitiveness in the global economy. Jurisdictions with high electricity prices are at a disadvantage when it comes to creating jobs and attracting investment.”
The OCC’s submission on this LTEP noted in muted tones: “the addition of renewable energy resources under the Feed-in Tariff (FIT) program has contributed to overall systems costs by guaranteeing long-term and above-market payouts to generators.”

Canadian Manufacturers and Exporters – The Canadian Manufacturers and Exporters (CME) were much more aggressive in their submission on the LTEP. “We are calling for immediate relief for manufacturers from Ontario’s sky-high electricity rates and a longer term plan to use the system as a tool for economic development” said Ian Howcroft, Vice President of Canadian Manufacturers & Exporters (CME) Ontario Division. And “we urge the government to push further and faster to bring rates in line with competing jurisdictions.”
CME’s priorities for reductions included several recommendations including: Providing relief targeting smaller to medium sized manufacturers that aren’t covered by existing programs, and eliminating the Debt Retirement Charge (DRC), and “Offering more surplus capacity to manufacturers” among other suggestions.
Finally, they added this grave warning: “Lower manufacturing rates are necessary to retain and attract investment in Ontario rather than seeing it go to other jurisdictions.”

Ontario Society of Professional Engineers – A September 2016 article by Terence Corcoran of the Financial Post noted “Experts and analysts have been warning of the excess wind and solar expansions for years. The Ontario Society of Professional Engineers’ Paul Acchione warned in 2012 that wind expansion is ‘costly’ and ‘technically difficult to integrate’ into the Ontario system.” OSPE’s submission on the LTEP is a focused document that carries a lot of interesting facts. For example, they say this about power generation from wind:
“Wind generation has relatively little economic value in Ontario’s low emission power system.”

OSPE’s recommendations on ways to reduce the price of electricity are: Reduce operating costs or increase revenue from the sale of surplus electricity; Move existing costs not directly associated with producing electricity into tax-supported accounts; Transfer market risks from electricity consumers to investors; and, Remove government sales and water use taxes on electricity.
While the recommendations appear short and simple people “in the know” will recognize the seriousness subtly expressed in each of those four recommendations.

Strategic Policy Economics – Marc Brouillette’s excellent submission on behalf of Bruce Nuclear also carries some sane observations such as “Wind generation has not matched demand since its introduction in Ontario” and, “Over 70% of wind generation does not benefit Ontario’s supply capability.” And this one, which is becoming more evident as ratepayers are forced to pay for curtailed generation: “Wind generation will not match demand in the OPO Outlook future projections as 50% of the forecasted production is expected to be surplus.”

The recommendation that will cause the most handwringing will be: “The LTEP should integrate the objectives of Ontario’s environmental, energy, industrial, and economic policies for the long-term future benefit of Ontarians.”

Wind Concerns Ontario – The coalition of community groups and individuals throughout Ontario had this to say by way of advice to the Ministry: “The government policy to promote “renewables” such as wind and solar have been a critical factor in the grave economic situation today. Wind power for example, now represents 22% of electricity cost, while providing only 5.9% of the power. Worse, that power is produced out-of-phase with demand, as has been detailed by two Auditors General; so much of it is wasted. This is unsustainable.

“Clearly,” WCO continued, “the direction for the Ministry of Energy is to formulate a new Long-Term Energy Plan that will take immediate action on reducing electricity costs. Those actions must include a review of all contractual obligations for power generation from wind, and action to mitigate further costs to the system, and the over-burdened people of Ontario.”

WCO called for cancellation of all the wind power contracts given in 2016, the FIT 5.0 program, and further, cancellation of all contracts for projects not yet built or which are not going to make a critical commercial operation date. In fact, all wind power contracts should be reviewed and paid out, as Ontario can save money by eliminating the need to dispose of the surplus electricity.

 

Time will tell what the Long-Term Energy Plan will look like, but if it doesn’t include direct action to reduce actual costs to the system, it will be no plan at all.

Energy ministry dodges questions on hydro bill relief

The government has promised to get the electricity bills down…but at what cost? Where is the money coming from? The answer is simple: taxpayers and ratepayers are picking up the costs.

Ontario Energy Minister Thibeault: not forthcoming with the facts on electricity bill "relief"
Ontario Energy Minister Thibeault: not forthcoming with the facts on electricity bill “relief”

Last fall, Energy Minister Glenn Thibeault announced that the 8% provincial portion of the HST would be rebated to “residential, small business and farms as of January 1, 2017”.

The Energy Minister’s press release went further stating the government would be “Providing eligible rural ratepayers with additional relief, decreasing total electricity bills by an average of $540 a year or $45 each month”.

That was somewhat ambiguous in several areas so I looked for clarification from the Ministry.

After several phone calls and e-mails with messages left for the Ministry’s media spokespeople, and even a phone call to the Minister’s office, I received no response other than to confirm (via e-mail): I had “reached out to us [the ministry media contact] in regard to one of our September press releases”.

So, with no actual clarification, here’s what I get from the press releases, a mail insert from Hydro One, and a search on the Ontario Energy Board’s “bill calculator”.*

What is the real hydro bill relief? 

Energy Minister Thibeault’s September 13th press release suggested an average savings of $130 per year for the rebate, and also announced “eligible” rural ratepayers would see “additional relief” amounting to $540 a year.  My query to the Ministry asked, what were the requirements for “eligible” rural ratepayers, and how many were there?  I also asked what the estimated overall cost of the 8% rebate would be for the province, and where the money was coming from to cover the lost revenue.   Those questions remain unanswered by the government, so here are my estimates in respect to the anticipated costs of the 8% relief.

►Out of one pocket into the other

The Ontario Energy Board’s 2015 Yearbook of Electricity Distributors indicates Ontario had 4,564,835 Residential Customers and 434,999 General Service (50kW) Customers, 54,295 General Service (50-4999kW) Customer and 124 Large User (5000kW+).   The “General Service” customers consist of farms and the small and medium sized businesses.

Gross revenue for the year including delivery costs was reported as $17,526 million, so rebating 8% would represent approximately $1.4 billion.

About $600 million would be earmarked for “Residential” Customers. Based on the specific information received from Hydro One, whose media team were responsive to my questions, the only group listed but not on the “rebate” list is the 124 Large Users who would consume (estimated) 5.2 terawatts (TWh) of the 124.6 TWh reported as “supplied” in the OEB report. Again, based on an estimate, the value of that 5.2 TWh would be approximately $735 million of gross revenues (including delivery) and reduce the rebate of the provincial portion of the HST by only $60 million to $1.340 billion.  It is assumed the difference of $740 million would represent the rebate to the small businesses and farms.

The full $1.340 billion cost will be picked up by the Ontario taxpayers!

►Out of ratepayer’s pockets into ratepayer’s pockets

That same press release also said, “Providing eligible rural ratepayers with additional relief … by an average of $540 a year”.  The Hydro One application filed with the OEB notes the total additional amount required under the RRRP (Rural or Remote Electricity Rate Protection Program) is $116.4 million (rounded) for 334,500 (rounded) Hydro One “low-density” customers. That works out to $29.19 per customer each month and annually to $350.28, not the additional $540.00 Minister Thibeault claimed in the press release.  Even if you add the 8% PST rebate to the rural ratepayer relief it comes to $500.40  in total so is below the $540 claimed by Minister Thibeault.

The $116.4 million cost of the “additional relief” via the RRRP will be a part of the “regulatory” line on all ratepayers’ bills, increasing that cost.  All ratepayers share in the payment of the RRRP which with this increase now totals approximately $280 million.

►Northern spin

Thibeault’s quote at the end of the press release said “Many rural and northern customers would receive significant rate relief”.  Yet there is nothing additional proposed in this press release for “northern customers.”  The rate relief for them appears to be the same as the rest of the province, except for those who are “low-density” Hydro One customers.

►Total spin

The spin of the press release is captured in the first sentence: “Ontario is taking action to reduce electricity costs and intends to introduce legislation that, if passed, would rebate the provincial portion of the HST from the electricity bills”.

Very nice sentiment, except we know that funding to “reduce electricity costs” is from taxpayers who will pick up the costs of the 8% rebate and ratepayers who will pick up the costs of the “eligible rural ratepayers” reduction.

Almost $1.5 billion shifted to make government look good

The almost $1.5 billion was not obtained from a reduction in spending or by instructing the OEB to reduce the return on capital of the power generators or the local distribution companies—it’s coming from the pockets of taxpayers and ratepayers. The “action” being taken does nothing to defer future rate increases by canceling wind and solar contracts or by taxing them — it simply passes the costs to those who have been affected by the steady and unrelenting rise in the cost of electricity.  To claim, as the press release does, that “consumers will be positively impacted” is pure spin!

Had the Wynne government been brave they would have reduced the TOU rates on the first 750 kWh of consumption by a significant amount. As it is those residential ratepayers who have been most impacted by the price climbs will not reap the monetary benefits of residential ratepayers who use more energy — 8% of a $150 monthly bill is $11 versus $24 for a $300 monthly bill.

This cost shift of almost $1.5 billion looks amazingly like another “mistake” by Premier Wynne.

 ————————

* The OEB “Bill calculator” fails to note any reduction in the “delivery” line for Hydro One’s “low-density” ratepayers but does highlight the 8% reduction in the HST.

 

How did we get here? A review of ministerial remarks on electricity prices in Ontario

January 5, 2017

With Ontario’s lead in energy prices in Canada and the fastest rising consumer rates in North America, it is perhaps worth a review of a few of the ministerial comments that got us to this point.

Rates will rise 1% because of the GEA

George Smitherman, Minister of Energy and Infrastructure from June 2008 to November 2009 told the Standing Committee on General Government in April 2009: “We anticipate about 1% per year of additional rate increase associated with the bill’s implementation over the next 15 years.”  In May 2009 the “average” rate was 6.07 cents per kilowatt hour (kWh) (not including delivery or HST). By May 2016, the “average” rate had increased to 11.1 cents/kWh, an increase of 82.9% in 7 years.  The comparable costs of generation from IESO’s Monthly Summaries for the May 2009 to May 2016 comparisons grew by 84.9%.  Looks like the forecast missed the mark by a bit.

Conservation will save you money

Back in July 2013 a press release from Minister Bob Chiarelli credits him with this quote: “By investing in conservation before new generation, where cost-effective, we can save ratepayers money”. At that point, average rates were 8.4 cents/kWh — in just three years they increased 32.1%. IESO’s monthly summaries indicate the cost of generation rose 26.4% in the same time-frame.  Since 2012, consumption has fallen by 4.3 terawatts (TWh) on enough to provide 475,000 average Ontario households with power for a full year.  Conservation hasn’t shown it will “save ratepayers money.”

Moving a gas plant is less than the price of a Tim Horton’s coffee                                                                                                          

Another from former Energy Minister Bob Chiarelli who, when asked about the Oakville gas plant move was quick to suggest, “It’s less than a cup of Tim Horton’s coffee a year.” for the average ratepayer over 20 years. He made this dismissive comment to the Legislature Justice Committee investigating the move. What it meant was the waste of $1.1 billion dollars of taxpayer/ratepayer money; the Minister’s comment is a reflection of the regard the Ontario Liberal government has for the average hardworking Ontarian.

It's nothing, Chiarelli said of a $1.1B scandal
It’s nothing, Chiarelli said of a $1.1B scandal

The Ontario Auditor General not informed?                                                                                                  

Bob Chiarelli again: when the Auditor General’s report in late 2014 on  smart meters was released suggesting the program was over-budget and under-effective  Minister Chiarelli said, “Why are my numbers more credible than hers?” He went on to say: “Electricity is very complex, is very difficult to understand. Some of our senior managers, in discussing these issues with some of the representatives from the auditor general’s office, had the feeling they didn’t understand some of the elements of it.”  As it turned out Auditor General, Bonnie Lysyk worked for Manitoba Hydro for 10 years so probably knew more about the electricity sector than the Minister.

Municipal authority is a non-starter                                                                                                                      Oh dear: Mr. Chiarelli, again. In May 2013 Bob Chiarelli said “Municipalities will be given a much bigger say in where or if renewable energy projects are located”.  His remarks were well received by many municipalities and in the case of Dutton Dunwich council a survey they engaged in allowed them to declare 84% of their residents were against industrial wind developments.  So what? The will of the people was ignored and a contract for a $250-million wind power project was granted anyway.  The minister’s comments appear to have been a pretense that rural Ontario had been given authority to accept or reject contracts.

Industrial Wind Turbines granted special realty tax status                                                              

When Dwight Duncan was Minister of Finance it appears he bowed to lobbying efforts by trade association Canadian Wind Energy Association or CanWEA members who may have been concerned they would be required to pay significant municipal taxes should MPAC assess IWT at actual value!  He accordingly issued a direction to MPAC (Municipal Property Assessment Corporation) to assess industrial wind turbines (IWT) at only $40,000 per megawatt (MW). That means, not only did municipal governments have no say in allowing IWT in their jurisdiction, but were also to receive nominal realty taxes from their presence.

Transparently opaque                                                                                                                        Premier Wynne in early March 2014 introduced the Accountability Act and had this to say to the Legislature:  “I came into this office just over a year ago saying that I was going to do government differently, that we were going to open up and be more transparent.”  Now should you have the urge to seek specific information from the Energy Ministry, which this writer frequently does, what you receive back is a homily that starts out with “you have reached out to us” followed by the promise they will get back to you. If and when the response comes, it generally dodges the question(s) and simply repeats the spin in the press release you are inquiring about.

Electricity exports are profitable                                                                                                                We have consistently heard about how profitable our exports of electricity are from the various Energy Ministers in place over the past decade. Former Minister Chiarelli’s claim we made $6 billion was debunked, but the claims continue.  The profits were claimed by former Premier Dalton McGuinty, Brad Duguid when Minister of Energy, and even a senior officer with IESO.  The Auditor General noted the following in the 2015 report:  “Since power is exported at prices below what generators are paid, and curtailed generators are still paid even when they are not producing energy, both of these options are costly. From 2009 to 2014, Ontario had to pay generators $339 million for curtailing 11.9 million MWh of surplus electricity.”  This continues today, at a much higher rate!

High electricity prices a “mistake”                                                                                                            

When Premier Wynne spoke to the 850 members who attended the Ontario Liberal Convention on November 19, 2016 she told the delegates her “government made a mistake” by allowing rates to soar. Apparently Premier Wynne doesn’t pay her electricity bills and didn’t notice since she was elected leader of the Ontario Liberal Party January 26, 2013 to the date of her recent speech, rates charged to residential ratepayers increased 38%.  She also missed the fact that IESO in their monthly summary of December 2012 reported the cost of power generated was 8.89 cents/kWh and the October 31, 2016 summary reported it had climbed to 13.49 cents/kWh — an increase of almost 52%.

 

The last word is mine 

I challenge anyone to make the claim that “planning” or a “cost/benefit” analysis ever played a role in Ontario reaching our current state of claiming the title of “highest cost” electricity in Canada or “fastest rising” in North America!   The design pursued by the various energy ministers occupying the portfolio since the current government gained the reins of power in Ontario demonstrate clearly, they failed to consider the fate of Ontario households, along with the impact on jobs. Instead, they listened to the cadre of environmental NGOs and corporations that benefit from subsidies provided by the ratepayers.

                                               

You’re paying a tax you don’t even know about: the water rental fee

And, it’s going up. And up.

Sir Adam Beck generation station: take a good look--you're "renting" the water
Sir Adam Beck generation station: take a good look–you’re “renting” the water

December 21, 2016

A neighbour and good friend who farms in Prince Edward County kindly provided a copy of a recent issue of the Farmers Forum newspaper and pointed out an excellent article written by Angela Dorie, an agricultural writer and Jersey cattle farmer.  The article highlighted the “water rental fee”* hidden in the electricity line on our bills to pay for the water used to generate electricity.  Dorie only realized the fee was there when journalist Paul Bliss of CTV brought it to light during a National News broadcast.

I recently wrote article on the fuel tax, suggesting a reduction of it was a way to offer relief to climbing electricity prices, but I didn’t examine how much the “water fuel tax” has risen over the past several years, or how much it has contributed to the province’s revenue.

As it turned out, in 2015 the water fuel tax was $345 million for the generation of 30.4 terawatts (TWh) and represented a cost to ratepayers that amounted to $11.35 cents per megawatt (MWh) or 1.14 cents per kilowatt hour of electricity generated. While the current government didn’t institute the tax, they have significantly raised it over the years.  Back in 2002 the tax was $116 million for the 34.3 TWh generated or $3.38/MWh and 0.34 cents/kWh so it is now 3.3 times what it was the year before the Liberals gained power.

                                                         Water fuel tax:  $2.7 billion and climbing

According to the Ministry of Finance the “water rental charge rate is fixed at 9.5% of a station’s gross revenue from annual generation.”  Reviewing OPG’s financial statements for the past 10 years (2006 to 2015) one can see the fuel tax totaled $2.735 billion.  In 2015 the fuel tax cost the average ratepayer household approximately $70.

It appears that when Dalton McGuinty was premier, he not only burdened us with the “health tax” he also raised electricity bills via a stealth tax which many of us have only just become aware of. Premier Wynne is now suggesting transparency may come to our electricity bills by endorsing the appearance on our bills of the Global Adjustment.   In the current year the GA appears headed to a record $12 billion or about 8.8 cents per kWh based on anticipated consumption of 137 TWh.

One has to wonder how many other taxes and fees are hidden within our electricity bills that will come to light if we actually get an explanation of the GA that is truthful and fully transparent!

Excerpt from the CTV news story:

For decades, the provincial government has been charging for every litre of water flowing through its own power turbines at dams to produce electricity. The tax includes water surging through Niagara Falls.

“It’s effectively a water rental,” independent energy advisor Tom Adams told CTV’s Paul Bliss.

The government charges Ontario Power Generation for the water it uses. Those expenses are passed on from the company to taxpayers.

Question for Minister Thibeault: how does buying power we don’t need save us $70 million?

OPEN LETTER to Minister of Energy Glenn Thibeault 

December 16, 2016

Dear Minister Thibeault:

As a concerned citizen of our wonderful province I do my best to stay up on current events.   In that regard I recently noted Ontario Premier Wynne and Quebec Premier Couillard attended the official signing of “the historic electricity trade agreement between Hydro-Québec and the Independent Electricity System Operator of Ontario (IESO).”

It appears you also attended the signing and had a quote recorded on the press release: “By importing 2 terawatt hours of clean electricity, enough to power the City of Kitchener for a year, Ontario will reduce carbon emissions and system costs by $70 million.”

I read that and wondered how importing 2 TWh of electricity from Hydro-Québec would save “system” costs by $70 million? It just didn’t ring true based on the math I was taught and have used throughout my lifetime. I pondered your comment for a while and then I wondered if statements of that standard are simply inherited with the portfolio.

Thinking back I recalled several which left me and many others scratching their heads. What if I give you a simple test by asking if you know which energy minister uttered the following. The answers can be found on page 2 but don’t peek until you have at least guessed.

Here they are in no particular order. From Energy ministers:

  1. “Conservation is the cleanest and least costly energy resource, and offers consumers a means to reduce their electricity bills.”
  2. “I think most in the industry would expect that the rates will likely go down, but we’re confident we’ll do that in a way that maintains confidence in the investment climate in Ontario”
  3. The same energy minister in 2. above also said: “When you put in the new meter you find out the previous meter wasn’t billing and working properly. So the new meter is bringing bills up to date and is more accurate.”
  4. We anticipate about 1% per year of additional rate increase associated with the bill’s implementation over the next 15 years.”
  5. “if you change your behaviour, if you use less carbon emitting products you are actually going to see your bill reduced”

Now, reverting to your December 15, 2016 quote I hope you were aware that in 2015 Ontario exported 22.6 TWh of electricity to our neighbours because it was surplus to our needs!  According to the IESO (a signatory to the above agreement) and an earlier release from your ministry we have a “robust supply” of electricity that will last us for a decade.  I checked out current IESO data and determined that, up to the end of October 31, 2016, Ontario has exported 18.33 TWh of surplus electricity.  The average “sale price” of those 18.33 TWh was $16.04 million per TWh but it cost ratepayers $112.26 million per TWh according to IESO.

In simple math terms we were billed $2,057.7 million for the 18.33 TWh and sold it for $294 million — meaning it cost ratepayers $1,763.7 million or about $360.00 per ratepayer …  and we still have two months left in the year to account for.

Importing two (2) more TWh will simply add to our surplus generation meaning we will either have to export it at a big loss or; curtail wind, spill hydro or steam-off Bruce Nuclear. What we are looking at here is similar to “Dutch Disease” but in reverse.

I hope you understand the math better than your predecessor(s) and you are able to provide me, and many others with a plausible explanation as to exactly how importing 2 more TWh from Hydro Quebec will save $70 million in system costs?   Were you aware that in the past five years (2011-2015) Ontario has imported 18.9 TWh (per IESO) from Quebec or an average of 3.78 TWh annually.  That begs the question—what is so special about the additional 2 TWh we will be importing in the future?

OK, now is the time to let you know which Minister of Energy was behind the quotes on the first page.

  1. The first one was a Minister Bob Chiarelli quote from his “Conservation first” Long-Term Energy Plan in 2013.
  2. This was a Minister Brad Duguid quote from Reuters November 24, 2010 when he was telling them the rates for “green power” were going to go down.
  3. This one was a Brad Duguid quote from the Toronto Star November 16, 2010 when he was attempting to explain why electricity rates went up again.
  4. This particular quote was from George Smitherman when he sat in the Energy Minister’s chair and was ushering in the Green Energy and Green Economy Act.   He said this to the committee hearings members about the GEA.
  5. I assume you guessed this one as it was you on December 9, 2016 as you were interviewed on Global TV and asked a question about how the “cap and trade” bill would affect heating bills. From my perspective your response was perhaps rushed or you were badly prepped by your staff in the ministry. The reason I would suggest the foregoing is if you look back in time you will note your predecessors all look pretty dumb!   When you review events that unfolded after their quotes they have been proven to be very wrong. History will undoubtedly prove you to be wrong like your predecessors.

Another issue for you is the query about why gas bills won’t disclose the “cap and trade” levy when it takes effect.   When questioned as to why the information would not appear on gas bills you stated that the OEB acts “independently” and your ministry doesn’t give them directions!Just to remind you, one of the first things you did when you took over the energy portfolio was to issue a directive (June 27, 2016) to the Ontario Energy Board which contained the following (emphasis mine): “I write in my capacity as the Minister of Energy in order to exercise the statutory power I have under section 35 of the Ontario Energy Board Act, 1998 (the “Act”) to require the Ontario Energy Board (the “Board”) to examine and report back to the Ministry of Energy (the “Ministry”) with advice on the questions outlined below.”

In looking over the letters and directives in the OEB files, it appears letters of directions and directives (“orders in council”) are commonplace and reflect the full power of the “minister” and the governing “caucus” over the OEB.

You have the power to instruct the OEB to tell natural gas distributors to disclose the amount the “cap and trade” act will add to their bills.

In a related issue, your predecessor Bob Chiarelli ensured electricity bills disclosed the amount of savings due to the cancellation of the debt retirement charge or “DRC” while (seemingly) intentionally failing to order disclosure of the cost of removal of the OCEB (Ontario Clean Energy Benefit).If you want your legacy as the Minister of Energy to reflect the bad traits of your predecessors then you can continue doing as you have been doing, but if you believe in transparency you have an opportunity to demonstrate those beliefs by coming clean.I certainly hope you will review your actions of the recent past and show the ratepayers of the province you have the ability and the intestinal fortitude to stand up and recognize the abuse we have suffered for the past decade and show us actions that stop the climb in electricity rates that are a necessity of life in this province.

Yours truly,

Parker Gallant 

A concerned citizen

PS: Looking forward to your response on how the imported TWh will save the system $70 million

Dancing in the streets when Ontario’s wind power “tyranny” ends?

My article in the Financial Post, December 15, 2016.

[Photo: Getty Images]

The editor of the magazine, North American Windpower, recently marked the demise of Ontario’s wind industry. His article was titled “Eulogizing Ontario’s Wind Industry.” Apparently the eulogy was a result of Ontario Energy Minister Glenn Thibeault’s announcement of Sept. 27 that he was “suspending” the acquisition of 1,000 MW (megawatts) of renewable energy under the previously announced LRP ll (Large Renewable Procurement).

Thibeault explained that “IESO (Independent Electricity System Operator) had advised that Ontario had a robust supply of electricity over the coming decade to meet projected demand.” Thibeault didn’t express surprise at this sudden turn of events or explain what led to the realization. To put some context around the suspension, only a few months earlier former Energy Minister Bob Chiarelli had issued the directive to acquire the 1,000 MW that Thibeault shortly after “suspended.”

The Windpower article opens with: “Ladies and gentlemen, we are gathered here today to pay our respects to Ontario’s utility-scale wind industry, which has passed away from unnatural causes (a lack of government support).”

If Ontario’s wind industry had truly passed away, the celebrations among hundreds of thousands of Ontario ratepayers would have rivaled the scale of celebrations exhibited in Florida by Cuban exiles after hearing that Castro died. As it is, Ontarians are hardly celebrating. We will be forced to live with and among industrial wind turbines for at least the next 20 years. The “government support” alluded to in the eulogy isn’t dead. It continues to get pulled from the pockets of all Ontario ratepayers and has caused undue suffering.

The wind industry rushed to Ontario to enjoy the largesse of government support via a government program that granted above-market payments for intermittent and unreliable power. Industrial wind turbines have so driven up electricity prices that Ontario now suffers the highest residential rates in Canada and the fastest growing rates in North America. The Ontario Association of Food Banks in its recent 2016 “Hunger Report” noted: “Since 2006, hydro rates have increased at a rate of 3.5 times inflation for peak hours, and at a rate of eight times inflation for off-peak hours. Households across Ontario are finding it hard to keep up with these expenses, as exemplified by the $172.5 million in outstanding hydro bills, or the 60,000 homes that were disconnected last year for failing to pay.”

Beyond that, the cost of energy affects businesses and, as noted by the Canadian Federation of Independent Businesses, “fuel, energy costs” ranks for their Ontario members as the second-highest “major cost constraint” behind “tax, regulatory costs.”

Until the day we actually see Ontario electricity consumers dancing in the streets one day, the eulogy for this province’s wind-power tyranny is unfortunately premature.