Record profits for Ontario Power Generation

(but there’s a catch…)

Ontario Power Generation or OPG reported their results for the year ended December 31, 2018 on March 7, 2019 and for the fourth year in a row profits were up.

Net income after taxes attributable to the “shareholder” set a record* coming in at $1.195 billion versus $860 million in 2017.

Both 2017 and 2018 net income were affected by the sale of OPG’s properties. Their Head Office sale generated a 2017 after-tax gain of $283 million, and the sale of the Lakeview property generated an after-tax gain in 2018 of $205 million.

Putting aside those one-time gains, the increase in net income of $335 million (up 39%) from 2017 to 2018 is attributable to the $379 million in additional revenue generated by OPG’s nuclear fleet and was, co-incidentally, their total revenue gain, raising OPG’s revenue from $5,158 million in 2017 to $5,537 million in 2018. The increase in nuclear generation year-over-year was nominal, rising from 40.7 TWh (terawatt hours) to 40.9 TWh.

While this may be good news for the province, there is a “catch” : this all means ratepayers will eventually have to pay for the bulk of increased revenue when the Fair Hydro Act ends. The revenue gain came about principally because the OEB granted OPG a substantial rate gain on their nuclear generation amounting to approximately one cent per kWh or about $9/MWh.**

Other good news in the financial report was the OMA (operations, maintenance and administration) costs remained relatively flat as did fuel expenses.

Looking back:                                                                                                                                                    As noted above, OPG achieved record profits in 2018, but revenue was still not a record.  If we look back and compare 2018 with their results for 2008, we find that revenue was actually higher, coming in at $6.082 billion or $545 million (9.8%) higher.  In 2008 however net income was affected by a substantial increase in income taxes and by the recession which affected bond and stock markets (down by 35%) and OPG’s income from the $9.2 billion “Nuclear fixed asset removal and nuclear waste management funds”.

The year 2008 is the year prior to introduction of the GEA and the FIT and microFIT programs which drove up the cost of power in the province and affected OPG’s ability to increase its revenue and net income. First-to-the-grid rights granted to FIT and MicroFIT participants (wind and solar) meant OPG suffered the effects of the HOEP (hourly Ontario electricity pricing) in respect to their unregulated hydro.

In subsequent years the HOEP fell, resulting in OPG’s appeal for that capacity (3,631MW) to become regulated. The appeal was granted!

Another aspect affecting hydro generation profitability is fuel costs which were $254 million for the 2008, 36.4 TWh generated and climbed to $334 million for the smaller 29.8 TWh generated (not including the 3.5 TWh spilled) in 2018. OPG were forced to write-off their fossil fuel (coal) plant costs in 2004, but in 2008 they were still contributing to Ontario’s energy needs supplying 23.2 TWh out of a total of 107.8 TWh from OPG’s generating sources.

If one looks at a simple pricing cost per kilowatt hour, in 2008, dividing OPG’s gross revenue of $6.082 billion by the 107.8 TWh generation the per kWh cost for ratepayers was 5.6 cents/kWh. Doing the same simple calculation for 2018 using gross revenue of $5.537 billion for the 74 TWh generated provides a cost of 7.5 cents/kWh for a 1.9 cents/kWh (up 33.9%) increase. Over the ten years, in simple terms, the average annual increase is approximately 3% and above the inflation rate; however, without the GEA and the FIT/microFIT programs, it is likely that OPG’s costs would have been much closer to annual inflation rates.   The foregoing is borne out if one looks at the IESO year-end reports for 2008 when they state the cost per kWh averaged 5.8 cents/kWh compared to 2018 when their year-end report shows a cost of 11.5 cents/kWh.  That translates to a 5.7 cent/kWh increase — a jump of 98.3% over the same 10-year period, or triple OPG’s costs.

In retrospect one wonders if the proponents for renewable energy (industrial wind turbines, solar panels and biomass) such as Gerald Butts, who held sway over George Smitherman (former Ontario Minister of Energy) and former Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty seriously contemplated the results of their pilgrimage?

Did the damage done to the province benefit or hurt peoplekind?

You be the judge!

PARKER GALLANT

*Page 5: Financial and Operational Highlights

**Page 4: Annual Information Form

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Dalton McGuinty: ex-premier “Dad” is still preaching

A shorter version of this article appeared in The Financial Post on March 7, 2019.

Mr. McGuinty’s energy policies brought higher electricity bills and industrialized rural communities with wind turbines–not everyone was happy.

Dalton McGuinty is back, but did he ever really go away?

Former Ontario Premier, Dalton McGuinty has recently reappeared in public. He has launched a university lecture tour with the theme “Climate Change: Can We Win This? Be Honest”. He has already addressed audiences at University of Toronto, Queens and more recently at the University of Windsor. He is scheduled to appear at Western University in March.

Having resigned in disgrace as Ontario’s Premier in October 2012 due to the gas plant scandal, McGuinty has kept a very low profile since. Perhaps he now feels Ontarians have forgotten not only that affair but all the other bad policies he brought us. Those other policies included the promise of no tax increase which was followed by the imposition of a health tax, the Green Energy and Green Economy Act (GEA), which resulted in Ontario having the highest electricity prices in Canada and a doubling of Ontario’s debt. There were others.

McGuinty was recently honoured by a Liberal colleague, Ottawa Mayor, Jim Watson who promised him the “key to the city” in 2019. Mayor Watson of course held various cabinet positions in the McGuinty government before abandoning the ship to return to Ottawa.

Mr. McGuinty’s seminars demonstrate he is still a firm believer in “climate change” and is convinced he and the province’s taxpayers should do more. In a CTV Windsor news report, he is quoted as saying that while current Premier Doug Ford is fighting the carbon tax,: “we should embrace it” because “it is the most effective and efficient way to demonstrate a commitment to addressing climate change”.

He must view taxpayers as bottomless pits with surplus cash.

Not only has McGuinty re-entered public view, he has also accepted appointments as a director to several corporations. He is on the Boards of Innergex Renewable Energy Inc, Pomerleau Inc., and Electrovaya Inc. He also became a lobbyist for Desire2Learn as well as being appointed “a special advisor”.

The latter two companies; Desire2Learn and Electrovaya both received substantial Government of Ontario grants during McGuinty’s time in office as the Premier. Desire2Learn were awarded a $4.25 Million Grant from the Government of Ontario in January 2011 and Ekectrovaya received their $17 million dollar Grant in August 2009. Desire2Learn also received $3 million from the education ministry. In 2014 McGuinty was caught red-handed trying to lobby on behalf of Desie2Learn to certain members of the Wynne led government and was forced to register as a lobbyist.

While Innergex Renewable Energy Inc. is a Canadian company it is headquartered in Montreal and depends on Ontario for only 6% of its revenue. Its asset base in Ontario consists of one solar generation unit of  33.2 MW and three small hydro generation units totaling 36 MW. Its unclear what Ontario’s former premier brings to their Board of directors unless they were seeking a politician of his ilk.

Pomerleau Inc is a private Quebec headquartered civil works and building company and it appears McGuinty joined them as a member of their Board of Directors in the early part of 2016. They have been quite successful at winning contracts in Ontario including those with Provincial funding. A large waste water treatment plant in Kingston was one such win. A report to Kingston Council October 5, 2010 contained the following: “The funded portion, as per the agreement, was reviewed with respect to the award of contract to Pomerleau Ontario Inc. and was considered to fairly represent the defined works. The total projected budget for the engineering and construction remains within the $116,325,000 approved budget envelope, which includes electrical co-generation, on-site biosolids storage, staff costs and allowances for furnishings and equipment to be purchased outside the construction contract.” And: “In June 2005, the Province of Ontario announced project funding of $25,000,000.”

There are more interesting connections: former Mayor of Kingston, John Gerretsen, who served in the McGuinty Cabinet and Gerretsen’s son was Kingston’s Mayor from 2010-2014 and is now an MP In the Justin Trudeau Liberal government. Pomerleau is working with SNC-Lavalin and other companies on the first “Infrastructure Bank” investment in respect to the $6.3 billion Montreal REM project. As reported, “Construction on the project is already underway. SNC-Lavalin, Dragados Canada, Inc., Aecon Group Inc., Pomerleau Inc. and EBC Inc. were all part of the winning consortium and broke ground on the project in April.” As the SNC-Lavalin Federal controversy unfolds it will be interesting to see what eventually happens to this project.

On April 7, 2017 Dalton McGuinty, joined the Electrovaya Board of Directors. At that time Electrovaya was being investigated by the Ontario Securities Commission (OSC). In the OSC Proceedings one finds the following: “Between May and September 2016, Electrovaya issued five news releases that announced significant new business relationships in unbalanced terms. Electrovaya also did not disclose in its MD&A that revenue estimates announced in two previously announced commercial arrangements would not be realized.”

Just over two months later the OSC reached an agreement requiring Electrovaya Inc.’s CEO to pay a $250K penalty over OSC disclosure violations as noted in the Financial Post on June 30, 2017. Is it possible Electrovaya’s new Board Member played a role in getting their CEO and the OSC to reach that agreement?

Clearly Mr. McGuinty has value to those companies he handed out grants to, and perhaps they saw the value he could add to their business if appointed as a member of their board or as an “advisor”. One might assume he is being rewarded monetarily for both his board/advisory positions and for those speaking engagements. The former appears to be the case as the December 31, 2017 Annual Information Form for Innergex Renewable Energy discloses that Mr. McGuinty is the holder of 8,505 Deferred Share Units with a current value of approximately $121,000.

Mr. McGuinty is presenting himself to the younger generation and university audiences as a father and grandfather who is simply interested in preserving the environment and influencing positive climate change. Many Ontarians however, will recognize him for the damage his Premiership created both in terms of making the province the most indebted sub-national government in the world as well as the province decimated with industrial wind turbines and solar panels causing electricity prices to be among the highest in North America.

PARKER GALLANT

 

P.S. The resignation of Gerald Butts from the PMO February 18, 2019 is noteworthy also for his role in both getting the Ontario Liberals elected in 2003 and for setting their policies: “Butts largely wrote the platform McGuinty successfully campaigned on during the 2003 Ontario election. It contained more than 100 promises, including pledges to cancel proposed tax cuts and increase social spending. It was also heavy on environmental protection: McGuinty promised incentives for renewable energy, and to phase out Ontario’s coal-fired power plants.”