Rising costs of electricity generation not stopping in Ontario

Ontario’s six-month electricity summary shows that the new government’s promise of cutting costs is going to be tough to achieve. Is it impossible?

IESO finally released their June “Monthly Summary Report” allowing one to determine if Ontario ratepayers consumed more or less electricity in the first six months of 2019 compared to 2018.  As it turns out, grid-connected (TX) consumption was down by 270,000 megawatt hours (MWh), dropping from 66,847 GWh (gigawatt hours) to 66,577 GWh.

Ontario’s gross exports also dropped nominally from 9,791 GWh to 9,718 GWh, but the cost to Ontario ratepayers (due to a higher GA [global adjustment])* in 2019 is approximately $1 billion, and in 2018 up to the end of June, the cost was less at approximately $920 million. The combined average as at June 30th of the HOEP and the GA jumped by $7.14 per MWh for Class B ratepayers from 2018, meaning it added about $346 million in additional costs in the six months.  While most of those increased costs won’t suddenly show up in November when rates are reset by the OEB, it will accumulate in the “Global Adjustment Modifier”** and will hit ratepayers and taxpayers in the future.

Hydro One’s six-month results:                                                                            Comparing the consumption drop IESO reported to Hydro One’s six-month report is interesting: they noted “Electricity distributed to Hydro One customers” actually increased by 294 GWh from 13,517 GWh to 13,811 GWh or 2.2%.  Revenue (net of purchased power) from Hydro One’s local distribution customers however was up by $134 million*** or an impressive 17.7% mainly due to rate increases granted by the OEB.  Transmission revenue was down $49 million (5.8%) as Hydro One stated: “due to cooler weather in the 2nd Quarter” and “lower peak demand”. Despite the overall $85 million revenue jump, Hydro One’s net income was down $96 million as they took the hit for the aborted Avista acquisition along with increases in financing charges and higher OMA costs.

The net income drop meant Hydro One paid out 84.2% ($282 million) of their net income via dividends to shareholders. This was in excess of their targeted payout rate of 70% – 80%. Ratepayers should hope the OEB takes this into account during present and future rate application reviews as, to the best of my knowledge, municipally owned LDC (local distribution companies) payout ratios are in the 50%-60% range! Toronto Hydro, as one example earned $167.3 million in 2018 and paid out $93.9 million in dividends to the City of Toronto for a 56.1% dividend rate. Retaining equity helps keep rates down!

OPG’s six-month results:

Ontario Power Generation just released their financial results for the first six months of 2019 and it looks like they are back in business, generating more electricity and big profits.  For the first six months of the current year they generated 39.3 TWh versus 36 TWh in 2018 increasing their percentage of TX generation consumed by Ontario ratepayers from 53.9% to 59%.  As well, “Income before interest and income taxes” for the “Electricity generating business segments” was up by 44.4%  to $715 million from $496 million.  While some of the increase was due to increased generation, most of it was due to the fact that the OEB granted substantial increases for both nuclear (increased to 8.1 cents/kWh from 7.5 cents/kWh [+8%]) and hydro (increased to 4.5 cents/kWh from 4.2 cents/kWh [+7.1%]) having sat on the rate application approvals**** for a considerable time.  Additionally, OPG were paid for 2.2 TWh of spilled hydro in 2019 versus 2 TWh in 2018 adding $15 million to revenue; however, the real shocker in the reported results was the fact they show OMA costs dropped $35 million.

Industrial wind turbines six-month results:   Thanks to Scott Luft’s data, wind power’s contribution (if one can call it that) for the six months for 2019 was up all-in (TX and DX [distribution connected] plus curtailed) slightly to 7.3 TWh versus 6.9 TWh in 2018. The overall cost however, was higher jumping from approximately $955 million to $1.079 billion.  Coincidently, the 7.3 TWh of 2019 is 83% of gross exports versus 80.9% of 2018’s gross exports.  That simply demonstrates the fact that wind turbines do nothing more than add to the costs of generating electricity in Ontario.  We could have easily done without their generation and their added costs!  Many people who have experienced health problems caused by the audible and inaudible noises produced by the turbines would also welcome their demise.

Conclusion:                                                                                                                                     One can determine from all this that the rising cost of electricity generation in Ontario has not slowed or stopped despite the change of government just over one year ago.

The damage caused through implementation of the Green Energy and Green Economy Act in 2009 continues and it is difficult to see how the current government will reverse the harm the GEA caused.

PARKER GALLANT        

*The GA pot only affects Ontario ratepayers as the market price (HOEP) is the price surplus electricity is sold at in the export market.                                                                                                                                                **The Ontario Minister of Energy announced future rate increases would be held to the rate of inflation.                                                                                                                                             ***In the 6-month comparison Hydro One’s average “Delivery” charge increased from 5.59 cents/kWh to 6.44 cents/kWh or 15.3% for their 1.3 million customers.                                                                                                                                        ****This was noted by the Energy Minister when passing the “Fixing the Hydro Mess Act”.

Ontario’s lavish, expensive electricity weekend

Enjoy the weekend and the balmy weather? Good: you paid millions for it.

Live it up, baby

Ontarians waited a while for Mother Nature to bless them with a good weekend and it finally happened. June 8th and 9th were beautiful days filled with sunshine and temperatures that were warm but not hot.   A nice breeze added to the two spring days.

So, while Mother Nature treated us nicely, that meant people were out enjoying the weather and electricity consumption was, as it usually is during the Spring and Fall, low. Consumption at its lowest (Ontario demand) point over the weekend was 10,564 MW during one hour, and average Ontario demand over the 48 hours was a very low 12,975 MW*.

The combination of nice weather and low electricity consumption however, created an expensive weekend for Ontario ratepayers. Those breezes were generating surplus wind power from industrial wind turbines and water was flowing through our rivers and through and over our dams. The combination cost Ontario ratepayers lots!

For example, wind which delivered 39,870 MWh but the IESO (Independent Electricity System Operator) was, at the same time, getting IWT to curtail wind — that amounted to 58,870 MWh**. Those wind power operators were paid $120.00/MWh for curtailed wind and $135.00/MWh for grid-accepted wind.

Wind at 3.7 cents a kilowatt hour? How about 31?

So, collectively over the two days, wind generation and its curtailment alone cost ratepayer $12.448 million or over $312.00/MWh (31.2 cents/KWh).

Over those same two days our net exports (exports minus imports) were 123,960 MWh and most of it was sold at negative prices.   Those 123,960 exported MWh cost Ontario’s ratepayers an average price in excess of $115/MWH, so that was another $14.3 million added to the weekend’s expenses!

It also appears IESO were spilling quite a bit of hydro as well. Scott Luft estimates hydro spillage was somewhere around 50,000 MWh** which would add a further $2.3 million to our expensive weekend.

As if these costs weren’t enough, we also shut one nuclear plant down early Saturday morning and steamed-off nuclear power at Bruce Nuclear — that resulted in another waste of around 43,700 MWh at a cost of $2.884 million which Ontario’s ratepayers are obliged to pay.

And just to put some icing on the cake, our 7,925 MW of gas plants (backing up renewable intermittent wind and solar generation) were idling all weekend at a cost (estimated) of $10,000 per MW of capacity per month. That cost ratepayers about $5.2 million for those two days.

So add up the waste of the two days for curtailed wind of 58,870 MWh, steamed-off nuclear of 50,000 MWh, spilled hydro of 43,700 MWh and net exports of 123,960 MWh you will see Ontario’s ratepayers will pay for 276,530 MWh of unneeded power, or 44.4% of what was actually consumed.

That’s almost $26 million. For one weekend.

If one includes idling gas plants, total costs were north of $31 million to be paid for, but provided absolutely no benefit to Ontario ratepayers!

PARKER GALLANT

*Nuclear power alone could have supplied about 85% of total consumption over the 48 hours.

**Thanks to Scott Luft for this information.

Global Wind Day is coming: should you cheer or cry?

Canada’s wind power lobby says wind power is not only cheap, it is dependable enough to supply one-third of our power needs. Is this true? (No.)

Celebrate? Maybe not… [SmallSteps photo]
CanWEA (Canadian Wind Energy Association) recently posted an article about an upcoming event they seem quite excited about.  Apparently, “Every year, June 15 is Global Wind Day, a day to celebrate the incredible momentum of wind energy.”

CanWEA goes on to make extraordinary claims and these two top the list: “Costs have also dropped significantly in Canada, and a power auction in Alberta, in 2017, established wind energy as the most cost-competitive source of new electricity generation in Canada” and “… it could supply more than one-third of the country’s electricity without compromising grid reliability.”

Well, I just had to look into that, especially after Ontario’s experience with wind power. Thanks to Scott Luft’s data gathering from IESO and his ability to organize it nicely, it’s an easy task to see how wind performed in Ontario over the past three years.

As we are five months into 2019 let’s look back at that same period over the last three years and review wind’s performance. It is important to understand that wind generation, for some reason, gets “first-to-the -grid” rights and are also paid handsomely ($120/MWh) for curtailing their generation.

The meaning of ‘curtailment’                                                                                                                                   Starting with wind capacity*, which at the start of 2017 was about 4,460 MW with 570 MW of that embedded. At the beginning of 2018, capacity had increased to 4,900 MW with 580 MW of that embedded; at the start of 2019 we had 5,090 MW with 590 MW embedded. Wind’s capacity increased over those three years to the point where it represents over 10% of capacity.

Once industrial wind turbines represented a significant amount of capacity in Ontario, reality dawned: wind is unable to deliver generation when actually needed. This raised concerns with the grid operator, the Independent Electricity System Operator or IESO. As this situation constituted a possibility of lack of grid control, the deal struck with the wind generators was to get them to curtail their generation, when asked, in exchange for a significant payment.

When this agreement was reached, IESO began to curtail wind on a regular basis, particularly during Ontario’s low demand periods which occur during the Spring and Fall. That’s also exactly when wind generates power at its highest levels in Ontario. So, for 2017 wind developers curtailed 1,420.6 million MWh in the five months which earned them $170.5; in 2018 they curtailed 1,019.6 million MWh earning $120 million; and in 2019 curtailed 786,900 MWh which earned them $94.8 million.

Ontario’s ratepayers generously picked up the bill of almost $400 million for that curtailed generation for the first five months of each year since 2017.

Wind power generation                                                                                                                                       Power generation from wind in the first five months of 2017 (either grid-accepted or distributor-accepted) was 7,080.8 million MWh; in 2018 it declined slightly to 7,027.6 million MWh. For the first five months of 2019 it increased to 7,211.7 million MWh (up 2.6%). The cost of the generation (at $135/MWh) brought costs to ratepayer of $955.9 million for 2017, $948.7 for 2018 and $973.4 for 2019.

That represents a total cost to Ontario’s ratepayers of $2.878 billion for the 21.3 TWh (terawatts) either grid- or distributor-accepted.

The total cost of wind: more than you think

So now, let’s check to see if the costs of power generation from wind are falling as claimed by CanWEA. To do that, we must add the cost of curtailed wind to the cost of what was delivered.

That cost was $3.278 billion!

Looking at 2017, the math on what it cost ratepayers for the period of the first five months of each of the last three years works out to $159.10/MWH and for 2018 slightly lower at $152.40/MWh and for 2019 it fell slightly again to $150.00/MWh.

It appears, on its own, wind generation costs in Ontario fell from 15.9 cents/kWh in 2017 to 15.0 cents/kWh in 2019.

However, not accounted for is the annual “cost of living”** increase granted to wind power operators in their contracts. Also not accounted for is the cost of back-up generation (principally gas generation paid to idle) for when the wind isn’t blowing. And other unaccounted for cost is what wind does when delivering generation out of sync with demand! It drives down the market price (HOEP) and our exported power is sold for cents on the dollar and Ontario ratepayers pick up the losses on those sales.

On top of all those other costs, excess wind power generation out of sync with demand causes hydro spillage and nuclear steam off — both of which are paid for by ratepayers!

Clearly, this demonstrates that CanWEA’s claim that wind power is cost competitive is fictitious — it isn’t!

And the other claim – that wind could supply one-third of the country’s electricity needs — is also bogus. As a recent IESO report notes, “The transmission-connected supply mix has shifted from only synchronous generation facilities to more inverter-based generation facilities (e.g., wind and solar). This change has lowered system inertia, which is a critical element that supports the secure operation of the ICG, [IESO Controlled Grid] especially during light demand conditions.” Translation: Adding more intermittent and unreliable wind power to the grid severely impacts grid stability, particularly in the spring and fall when demand (in Ontario) can fall to almost 50% of the peak demand which occurs on hot summer days or very cold winter days.

In short, “Global Wind Day” is no reason to celebrate.

PARKER GALLANT

*rounded                                                                                                                                           **wind turbine contracts also included a cost of living annual increase to a maximum of 20% of the original contracted amount

#GlobalWindDay

Another spring day, more big bucks for wind power operators

Mild spring weather, breezy days are money-making combo for wind power corporations

Wind turbine beside MIlford, in Prince Edward County: wind power not needed to meet demand

As very recently pointed out, utility-scale wind power operators love the spring because it brings nice breezes that result in lots of generation for which they are paid.  The bad news for Ontario electricity customers is that the power produced is generally not needed, but due to the wind power industry’s negotiated “first-to-the grid” rights, they must be paid regardless.

That was the case on May 8 and again the following day.

May 9 was another low demand day in Ontario as reported by IESO with only 337,700 MWh required to supply all of the province’s needs for electricity.  IESO’s forecast for power generation from wind was about 79,400 MWh, which would have represented 23.5 % of total demand.  However, a large part of it was forecast for low demand hours; no doubt that meant power from other relatively cheap sources of generation were dispatched off.

Low demand on a low demand day caused IESO to curtail 29,400 MWh (37.1%) of the forecast output and to sell off surplus generation to our grid-connected neighbours in New York, Michigan, Quebec, etc. The net exports of 41,600 MWh (rounded) sold to those buyers represented 83% of the accepted “output” of wind power.

In other words, Ontario didn’t really need any wind power!

The net exports were worth $3.70 per MWh (average of the Hourly Ontario Electricity Price or HOEP for the day) meaning they produced total revenue for Ontario of approximately $154,000.

So, you might ask, how much wind generation cost Ontario ratepayers for the day?

The 29,400 curtailed MWh at the $120/MWh IWT operators get paid was $3.528,000 and adding in the cost of the 50,000 MWh actually accepted at $135/MWh adds another $6,750,000 to the cost of wind. That brings the total cost of wind for that spring day to $10,124,000 if we deduct the $154,000 generated by the sales of our net exports.

Ten million paid, $150,000 recouped–makes sense doesn’t it?

So, wind power on May 9 cost Ontario ratepayers $202.48/MWh or 20.2 cents/kWh. That doesn’t include any of the other costs its generation may have caused such as spilling cheap hydro or steaming off cheap nuclear. To top it off, most of the day’s wind power generation, if exported, at an average price of $3.70/MWh means a loss of $198.78 for every megawatt hour sold.

The “average” Ontario ratepayer would love to be able to buy the 9 MWh they consume in a year at those bargain basement prices of $3.70/MWh. Imagine: it would cost them $33.30 for a full year’s electricity needs.  I’m confident our small and medium-sized businesses would also love the opportunity to pick up some of that cheap electricity, instead of being forced to pay for expensive, intermittent and unreliable wind and solar generation!

It’s time to sort out the mess created by the McGuinty/Wynne governments in respect to the electricity file.

If it isn’t, Ontario will continue to be stuck with climbing above-market electricity prices until the wind and solar contracts finally end.

PARKER GALLANT

Wind power operators love spring! Here’s why

Wind power operators don’t need flowers: they get money

Most Canadians love Spring simply because the snow is melting and that signals the summer is coming.

Ontario’s wind power developers love Spring, too! They know the wind will blow much stronger than in the hot summer weather and that means, their generation output will climb.

The fact the wind power lobby negotiated “first to the grid” rights with the Ontario government under Premier Dalton McGuinty means most of them will be paid 13.5 cents/kWh for whatever they produce, whether it is needed or not.

For example, May 8 was a day when the breezes were brisk throughout Ontario and the industrial-scale or utility-scale wind turbines were busy generating lots of power. The IESO (Independent Electricity System Operator) reports hourly on both the forecast for wind generation, as well as the actual output. That day, wind could have provided as much as 26% of total Ontario demand for power.  But here’s the important fact:  the total Ontario demand on an early May spring day is not what it is in the heat of summer or the cold of winter and that was the case on May 8.  Total Ontario demand was only 322,000 MWh for the day.

Money for nothing

Because of the low demand, about 36% (30,400 MWh) of IESO’s forecast for wind power generation looks as though it was probably curtailed (paid for but not used) and the wind power operators were paid $120/MWh. That means, Ontario’s electricity ratepayers paid almost $3.7 million for nothing. Zero.

The output actually accepted into the grid was just over 54,000 MWh, which cost ratepayers about $7.3 million. Coupled with the curtailment costs, that meant each kWh of wind “grid-accepted” cost 20.3 cents/kWh.

We should also assume that Ontario was probably spilling hydro or steaming off nuclear due to low demand, which would further drive up that price.

As if this information isn’t enough of a downer on a nice spring day, the HOEP (Hourly Ontario Energy Price), or what is referred to as the “market price,” was noted in their daily summary at an average of $1.75/MWh.

And the very next day …

Ontario’s demand was so low so we didn’t need any wind generation May 9, so IESO had to sell it off at the market price to U.S. and other grid-connected operators. The surplus demand of just under 44,000 MWh (81% of grid-accepted wind generation) was sold at $1.75/MWh generating total revenue of $77,000 but cost ratepayers in the order of $6 million.

This all simply demonstrates why the Global Adjustment charge keeps climbing. If the loss of $6 million daily for just the cost of exporting our surplus energy occurred every day of the year, it would represent in excess of $2.1 billion annually as a cost to Ontario ratepayers.

The time has come to fix this weird situation created by the former Ontario government.

PARKER GALLANT

Electricity bills in Ontario: promise made, promise missed?

More work to be done to get Ontario electricity bills down

In the campaign before last year’s election in Ontario, Doug Ford promised to cut hydro bills by 12 per cent if his party won. He said it would be on top of a rate reduction (25% under the Fair Hydro Plan/FHP) from the governing Liberals, whose plan he had repeatedly criticized.

He also said he would cut rates through a variety of measures that would save the average ratepayer $173 a year. When asked about their plans in respect to the FHP he said, “We’re going to be reviewing that. That was, as far as I’m concerned, the wrong thing to do, borrowing down the future and the only people who are going to pay for it is our children, our great-grandchildren.”

He also said he would give ratepayers the dividends from the government’s share of the partially privatized Hydro One.

Since being elected with a majority, the Ontario PC Party has often issued press releases suggesting “promises made, promises kept” but so far, we haven’t heard those words uttered in respect to the electricity file.

IESO reports are now available for the first three months of 2019, so we can compare the quarter with 2018 under the previous government to see if any progress has occurred.

To begin, if you look at the IESO report reflecting the “Variance Account under Ontario’s Fair Hydro Plan” you can discern the dollars being deferred went from $410.5 to $496.6 million, a jump of $86.1 million or 21%. That is money Ontario ratepayers will have to pay back in future years! The second quarter could be just as bad: Scott Luft has estimated April 2019’s combined HOEP (Hourly Ontario Energy Price) and GA (Global Adjustment) will set a new record high.

So, let’s look at Hydro One’s dividends to determine how far they would go to achieving the 12% reduction. The December 31, 2018 annual report for Hydro One shows dividends paid of $518 million to shareholders, so the 47% ownership of Hydro One by the province would represent $243 million!  If one than does the math for the promised annual average residential ratepayer saving of $173 the amount needed is about $807 million ($173 X 4,665,055 ratepayers = $807 million) for a shortfall of $564 million. Adding the additional FHP $86.1 million for the 2019 first quarter puts the shortfall at $650.1 million — so far.

For the first quarter of 2019, Ontario total electricity demand including net exports (exports minus imports) increased by 392 GWh (gigawatt hours) with Class A ratepayers increasing consumption by 486 GWh and Class B by 217 GWh while net exports declined by over 300 GWh. The weighted average of the GA and HOEP as reported by IESO on April 30th of each year climbed from $103.80/MWh in 2018 to $110.67 in 2019 a gain of $6.87/MWh or 6.6%. Multiplying the $6.87/MWh by Class B consumption of 25,628,600 MWh in the first three months of 2019 comes to approximately $44 million. That is about $42 million shy of the $86.1 million increased transfer to the FHP over the 2018 transfer. (We must assume, as frequently happens, IESO made an adjustment to the prior month’s transfer and that is the reason for the difference.)

In specifically examining wind generation and curtailment from Scott Luft’s post it appears year over year grid-accepted wind declined by 40,000 MWh and curtailed wind dropped 66,000 MWh. What that suggests is that the increase in costs is a reflection of the rate increases granted by the OEB to OPG for their nuclear generation at Darlington and Pickering.   This marks the first time over a long period when increased costs cannot be blamed on either wind or solar generation or both!

The foregoing 2019 first quarter results may present a major road block for Premier Ford in achieving his “promise made, promise kept” catchphrase in respect to the energy file.

Last December, former Minister of Energy Glenn Thibeault, was testifying at a committee hearing and responded to a question on the portfolio as follows: “There was lots that was happening on the file, and I was still learning it, right? As I said earlier, I was drinking from a thousand firehoses. Not that I’m trying to minimize the complexity of the file, but there was lots for me to learn and, at the same time, trying to find ways to reduce rates was, I think, the most important thing.”

Perhaps that point should be borne in mind by the current Minister, under Premier Ford. There are ways and means of reducing upward pressure on electricity costs, but so far Greg Rickford, Minister of Energy, Northern Development and Mines seems to have missed them or is still trying to digest the complexities of his portfolio.

My advice: Start with the cancellation of the Nation Rise 100-MW wind power generation project which will eliminate over $400 million from future electricity bills. And for those living with industrial wind turbines in rural Ontario, ensure they are in compliance with audible and inaudible noise regulations! Consultation with the Minister of the Environment, Conservation and Parks to ensure the regulations are followed would go a long way to reducing costs.

Minister Rickford could also consult with some external experts and find out what can be done to reduce costs, beyond getting rid of the “$6 million dollar man” from Hydro One!

PARKER GALLANT

 

 

Wind power lobbyist spins numbers to its advantage

Too bad the facts show that actually, wind power isn’t needed in Ontario

Comber wind project with 72 turbines: add up ALL the costs for the truth

The trade association and lobbyist for the wind power development industry, the Canadian Wind Energy Association (CanWEA), loves to provide its audience with information that only shows them in a good light. Their audience, “environmental” organizations and gullible politicians are easily sold.

Once again CanWEA has put the spin out.

A recent short post is titled “A Canadian Success Story” and it claims “Wind energy met approximately 6 per cent of Canada’s electricity demand in 2017 – and more than that in jurisdictions such as P.E.I. (28 per cent), Nova Scotia (12 per cent), Ontario (8 per cent), Alberta (7 per cent) and New Brunswick (7 per cent).”

It is curious as to why CanWEA would have used 2017 as their “success story” as it was an expensive one for Ontario’s ratepayers. Wind generation, the curtailment of excess generation, the need for backup gas plants, and the inability of wind to deliver actual power when needed, all played a significant role in continuing to drive up costs for Ontario electricity consumers.

Power arriving on the grid when demand was low was a big factor in the creation of the Fair Hydro Plan by the former government. IESO reported grid-connected wind delivered 9.2 TWh (terawatt hours) which was only 6.4% of total grid-connected generation — not the 8% claimed by CanWEA. Another 3.3 TWh of wind generation was curtailed in 2017 which added costs.

The 9.2 TWh delivered to the grid cost ratepayers $1,242 million and the 3.3 TWh curtailed added another $396 million, bringing the total cost of wind generation to Ontario’s ratepayers to $1.638 billion or 17.7 cents/kWh! If spilled hydro of 6 TWh and 1 TWh of steamed-off nuclear caused by wind due to surplus baseload generation (SBG) conditions, their costs of about $330 million bring the total cost of wind generation to $1.968 billion. And that is without gas plant idling costs for when wind is absent.

The total costs for all grid-supplied electricity in 2017 amounted to approximately $16 billion. So, the cost of wind power generation, along with the wasted hydro and nuclear, represented about 12.3% of all costs for 6.4% of their grid-accepted generation. If costs of our exports were included, wind generation effects on our electricity bills would be even higher. In 2017, nuclear and hydro supplied 97.1% of Ontario’s demand; with the spilled (wasted) hydro of 6 TWh and the 1 TWh of steamed-off nuclear, they could have supplied 102%.

In other words, wind wasn’t needed.

Scanning stats for a couple of months in 2018 shows that during the hot and high demand summer months of July and August, wind generation does what it generally does — falls flat. Data supplied by Scott Luft and the IESO monthly summaries shows wind provided only 4% of Ontario’s demand in July and 4.4% in August. In May 2018, a low demand month, grid-connected wind supplied 5.7% of Ontario demand. It could have supplied 9.1%, but almost 40% of what it could have generated was curtailed due to the month’s low demand.

What this all demonstrates, again, is the intermittency and unreliability of power from wind turbines. Wind power forces ratepayers to simply hand out money without any benefit.

Our politicians need to recognize spin when they see it, and understand that wind turbines provide almost no value in reducing emissions, or providing a reliable supply of electrical power.

PARKER GALLANT

 

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.”

 

Just released 2018 electricity data: are things finally looking up in Ontario?

Why ‘down’ is actually ‘up’ in topsy-turvy Ontario

Last month, the Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO) released the grid-connected 2018 Electricity Data. Under the “Price” heading the IESO said this: “The total cost of power for Class B consumers, representing the combined effect of the HOEP [2.43 cents/kWh] and the GA [9.07cents/kWh] was 11.50 cents/kWh”.

In 2017, that combined price was 11.55 cents/kWh, so there has been a slight decline. That slight decline represents an annual savings to the average household consuming 9,000 kWh per annum of—wait for it—$5.00.

If Bob Chiarelli was still Minister of Energy, he would probably suggest you could now purchase two “Timmies” with that much money!

The price drop isn’t very much but, the question is, how or why did the average price drop?

Ontario’s overall consumption in 2018 increased from 2017 by 5.3 TWh (terawatt hours) or 4%.  In 2017 the IESO reported grid-connected consumption was 132.1 TWh and in 2017 it increased to 137.4 TWh.  This is increase is a “good thing.” Here’s why:

  • Curtailed (paid for but not used) wind power fell by 1.207 TWh, which saved around $145 million!
  • Nuclear maneuvers (steam-off) or shutdowns declined by 791 GWh (gigawatt hours) and saved approximately $60 million.
  • Net exports (exports less imports) also fell by 2.318 TWh and, combined with the higher HOEP average for the year, saved ratepayers approximately $320 million.
  • Foregone hydro generation was probably lower as the first three quarters reported by OPG show it dropped from 4.5 TWh to 2.4 TWh (down 2.1 TWh). That saved around $90 million.

Taken together, that $615 million ratepayers had to absorb in 2017 comes to much more than Class B residential ratepayers benefited in 2018. There are only 4,665,000 of them so total net savings was only about $25 million.* Other Class B ratepayers presumably received some very minor benefits, too.

The reason these benefits were not more is because additional costs were levied in 2018, absorbing most of the remaining $590 million. The Ontario Energy Board approved large rate increases for OPG for the regulated hydro and nuclear generation segments.  The rates for the latter rose substantially and will also increase further in 2019 and 2020 before falling back in 2021 as the OEB used their power to attempt to “smooth” the nuclear refurbishment costs over several years.

Despite the fact that increased consumption in 2018 helped to, ever so slightly, reduce costs, the IESO continued their efforts to get us to reduce consumption by spending upwards of $350 million on conservation programs.

Why?

The small price drop for Class B ratepayers turns the economic law of “supply and demand” which is: increased demand will increase prices.  Somehow that law works in reverse in Ontario’s electricity sector!

Enjoy your two extra “Timmies” this year!

PARKER GALLANT

*These savings have nothing to do with the 25% reduction under the Fair Hydro Act which eliminated the 8% provincial portion of the HST and provides a 17% reduction for residential ratepayers. The FHA amortized assets over a longer timeframe than normal in the rest of the electricity generation world.

The political web of EDPR and the Nation Rise wind power project

 

The power from Nation Rise would be like a fly on an elephant in terms of Ontario demand. Cancelling would save hundreds of millions.

Last week, a news article appeared in the Nation Valley News reporting the local Conservative MPP, Jim McDonell’s response to a question asking on why the government hasn’t cancelled the 100-MW Nation Rise wind power project. Mr. McDonell said, “We’ve always been clear: We would cancel any project we could cancel economically,” and he added “… we just can’t spend a billion dollars to cancel a project and get nothing from it.”

The same day, a press release from the Ford government noted that Premier Doug Ford told people attending the annual Rural Ontario Municipal Association (ROMA) conference, that “We’re lowering electricity costs”

I am at a loss to explain Mr. McDonell’s suggestion that cancellation of the Nation Rise IWT project would cost the same as the McGuinty/Wynne gas plant moves, but that’s what he said. It’s worth a look back at how this power project came into being, as it illustrates the disaster that has been Ontario energy policy for the last 15 years.

The Nation Rise wind project was one of five awarded contracts in March 2016; after that, its history gets really interesting … and very political.

Cost of the project

The Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO) at that time noted the average price for all the projects proposed was $85.90/MWh (or 8.5 cents per kWh). Over 20 years that would produce revenue of about $450 million, or less if their bid was lower than the average..

If the project were cancelled, no court would award them the full contract amount; it is more likely the government would be on the hook for perhaps 5 to10 % of that amount (on the high side).

There is no doubt that cancelling this project would save Ontario citizens hundreds of millions.

Timing of the approval

According to the Environmental Registry the Nation Rise entry for the Renewable Energy Approval or REA is dated May 7, 2018 and indicates it was loaded to the registry May 4, 2018.  That is just four days before the writ was drawn up by former Premier Kathleen Wynne, formally announcing the upcoming Ontario election.  It was known* the voting date would occur on June 7, yet the REA — a major decision — was given by the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change (MOECC).  At that time, not only were polls forecasting a defeat for the Liberal government, “electricity prices” and hydro bills were a major election issue. The MOECC issued the decision anyway.

Is the power needed?

In 2015 (before the IESO called for more wind power proposals) Ontario had a huge surplus of generation. Our net exports (exports less imports) were 16.8 TWh (terawatt hours) or enough to supply almost 1.9 million average households (over 40% of all Ontario households) with their electricity needs for a full year.  It cost ratepayers an average of 10.14 cents/kWh to generate that power which was sold for an average 2.36 cents/kWh, representing a cost of $1.3 billion to Ontario’s ratepayers.

Due to the highly intermittent nature of output from wind turbines, the IESO’s projections of long-term capacity use only 12% of the nameplate capacity for wind power installations when calculating their contribution to overall capacity. So for Nation Rise, the IESO is projecting that the useable contribution of the project will be 105,120 MWh — just .0765% of the IESO’s forecast power consumption of 137.4 TWh. That is a fly on the flank of an elephant, in my estimation.

Cancellation of Nation Rise would not affect the long-term supply of electricity for the people of Ontario.

Worse, adding more capacity, particularly from an intermittent source, could result in more spilling of hydro, more curtailment of wind power generation, additional nuclear shutdowns or steam-off, all of which would drive Ontario’s electricity bills rates higher.

Property value loss

The property losses in value caused by the presence of 33, 650-foot industrial wind power generators throughout the countryside in the Nation Rise project will be in the tens of millions of dollars according to a study which notes: “Using research completed recently by a land economist with the University of Guelph and published in Land Economics, Wind Concerns calculates that overall, the property loss for houses within 5 km of the 33 planned turbines could be $87.8 million. Using other research that is less conservative, however, the property value loss could be more than $140 million.”

A loss of either magnitude would impact North Stormont’s realty tax base leading to either significant drops in revenue for the township or realty tax increases as a multiple of the COL (cost of living).

And then there’s the water

One condition among many in the REA given to EDP/Nation Rise was related to identifying and mapping all water wells in the project area within a set range of any proposed equipment, meteorological tower or wind turbines. This was due to concerns about construction activities on the local aquifer. While EDP identified 444 wells, the community group says there are more than 800 homes within the immediate project. Water wells in other areas of Ontario and elsewhere have become contaminated allegedly due to drilling and vibrations from wind turbines. There is significant concern about contamination of the wells, and the assessment taking place.

North Stormont is dairy farm country, and each farm operation uses thousands of litres of water every day — what would be the effect on these businesses, and Ontario’s food supply, if suddenly, the water wells were not functioning?

Who is EDP?

EDP (parent of EDPR) is a Portuguese utility company partially owned by two of the Chinese government’s companies; China Three Gorges (23.27%) and CNIC Co., Ltd., (4.98%) and the former has been trying for several years to acquire the balance of the shares. That attempt is speculated to be off; however, a recent NY Times article suggested otherwise, based on discussions with Portugal securities regulator CMVM.

Where is democracy?

North Stormont, where the Nation Rise wind project is planned, declared itself an “unwilling host” in 2015, well before the award of the contract or the issuance of the REA. The people perhaps relied on promises made by former energy minister and Ottawa Liberal MPP, Bob Chiarelli, when in 2013 he declared: “It will be virtually impossible for a wind turbine, for example, or a wind project, to go into a community without some significant level of engagement”. Despite their council passing the unwilling host motion, and also joining the 117 Ontario municipalities demanding a return of local land-use planning for energy projects, the IESO still granted Nation Rise the contract.

There are many questions about this project and many reasons why it simply isn’t needed. Cancelling this contentious project is a perfect way to lower future electricity costs, directly.

PARKER GALLANT

*The Toronto Star reported in an article dated October 19, 2016 the next Ontario election would be on June 7th, 2018