The Financial Post, August 10, 2017
On one day recently, for one hour, Ontario’s thousands of towering wind turbines delivered just one megawatt of power. And still, Ontario had a surplus that was sold off cheap.
May 27 was a Saturday which is usually a “low demand” day for electricity in Ontario, compared to weekday power demand and assuming weather patterns are close to average. The temperature on the recent May 27 was slightly below historic averages in Toronto; as people woke up and set about their activities that day, the demand for electricity built slowly.
According to the IESO’s (Independent Electricity System Operator) Daily Market Summary, Ontario demand peaked at 14,069 MW and averaged 12,751 MW (total Ontario demand was 306,024 MWh for the whole day). If anyone checked IESO’s “Power Data” page at, say, just after 11 AM, they would have noted demand was 13,208 MW at 10 AM and the HOEP (Hourly Ontario Energy Price) was indicating a negative price of -$4.00 /MWh. If one had also looked at the “Generator Output and Capability” and scrolled down to “Wind Total” they would have seen that under the heading “Output” the number appearing on the screen was “1”!
As in, one single megawatt of power.
About half the capacity of one ordinary wind turbine.
So, at 10 AM on May 27, 2017 the approximately 4,500 MW capacity of the more than 2,000 wind turbines installed throughout the province by the McGuinty/Wynne governments with lucrative, 20-year contracts, were delivering one megawatt of power.
And yet, to the best of my knowledge, Ontario didn’t experience a blackout or brownout because intermittent wind power generation was almost completely absent, nor did our emissions increase, as we got all the power needed from nuclear and hydro resources. In addition, the almost 9,000 MW of gas generation was idling, operating at an average of about 2% of capacity almost all day.
Despite wind only producing an average hourly output of 75 MW for the day and just the “1” for hour 10, Ontario still exported 43,584 MW of power at a cost to ratepayers of $5.6 million*.
Despite the lackluster performance of industrial wind turbines May 27 and on many other occasions, a visit to the home page of CanWEA still claims: “Wind is delivering clean, reliable and low-cost electricity”!
Perhaps with another 4,500 MW of capacity in Ontario, the industrial wind turbines may have delivered TWO MW of power at 10 AM on May 27?
*Cost estimate assumes the second IESO estimate of May’s Global Adjustment of $127.76 holds up.
Re-reading Premier Wynne’s statement of March 2, 2017 on her announcement of Ontario’s Fair Hydro Plan, one is struck by the avoidance of the truth, the sudden empathy displayed and her blatant claims. As one example, she suddenly noticed “Electricity is not a frill — it’s an essential part of our daily lives.”
The Premier has obviously forgotten her party clearly treated it as a “frill” by taking advice from environmentalists who persuaded her (and predecessor Dalton McGuinty) that industrial wind turbines (IWT) and solar panels could easily replace the power generated by coal plants. They were so taken by those claims the energy minister didn’t bother to do a cost-benefit analysis as noted by Ontario’s Auditor General (AG). They also charged ahead installing “smart meters” at a cost of $2 billion (AG report) and instructed the OPA (Ontario Power Authority) to acquire 10,500 MW of renewable energy principally in the form of IWT and solar panels.
The year prior (2008) to the creation of the Green Energy Act, Ontario’s coal generation plants produced 23.2 TWh (terawatts) or enough electricity to supply 2.4 million (55%) average households . In 2016 wind and solar* collectively and intermittently generated 14.2 TWh — 9 TWh less than coal plants generated in 2008. The collective cost of wind and solar and their back-up (gas) in 2016 was approximately $3.8 billion or 27 cents per kilowatt (kWh,) whereas the cost per kWh of coal power generated in 2008 was 5.5 cents/kWh (OPG annual report).
Renewables: five times more costly
In short, the collective cost of electricity supplied by renewables and their back-up (gas) to replace coal generation turned out to be five times more which clearly raised the cost of the “frill,” but our Premier(s) and Energy Ministers were apparently unaware** costs were rising to that extent.
On the latter point the Premier in her statement claims: “But it’s not as if I’ve been unaware of the challenge. I have seen the rising rates. My family and I get a bill like anyone else.” Premier Wynne’s salary in 2016 was $208,974.00 and in 2006 was $108,031.00 so she has seen a pay increase of 92% in 10 years. It’s doubtful she was impacted by the $536,84 average annual increase she experienced in her cost of electricity as it represents less than one day’s pay at her current compensation level.
The Premier’s statement blames rate increases on past governments and claims since the Liberals regained power in 2003 they had to engage in “fixing a system that had been structured unwisely”. Naturally, the 2003 blackout (caused by a fault in Northern Ohio) is blamed for the upgrade by the Premier to obscure their contracting of unreliable and intermittent wind and solar generation at above market prices. The Premier now claims the “electricity grid” they created “is second to none.” And yet, the AG noted in her December 2015 annual report that power outages increased 24% and lasted 30% longer!
Later in her statement the Premier notes “But the way we financed those investments was a mistake.” The disturbing part of the statement about “those investments”, was Premier Wynne’s assertion “In the past few years we’ve invested more than $50 billion in electricity infrastructure — new dams in the south, new towers in the north, $13 billion to refurbish nuclear power plants alone and billions more to ensure new transmission and distribution lines everywhere.”
That part of the Premier’s spin will form the basis of Part 2, in this series, tomorrow.
* Wind and solar generation are classified as “base-load” generation whereas coal was strictly used for “peaking” (high demand periods) purposes.
** The writer has consistently sent Premier Wynne and her predecessor along with the various Energy Ministers a link to every article written no matter where it appeared.
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.