One (megawatt) is the loneliest number

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”!

Sure!

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.

CanWEA wants to “reap” more “benefits” from wind energy

The wind industry association claims wind power is the “least-cost” option. The numbers tell a different story [Photo: IESO]
The past few days presented a couple of conflicting news events that made you want to scratch your head in wonderment.

First was a CTV news item June 5 headlined “Wasted green power tests China’s energy leadership”. The article stated: “In western China’s Gansu province, 43 per cent of energy from wind went unused in 2016, a phenomenon known in the energy industry as ‘curtailment.’ In the neighbouring Xinjiang region, the curtailment figure was 38 per cent and in northeast China’s Jilin province it was 30 per cent. The nationwide figure, 17 per cent, was described by Qiao’s organization as ‘shockingly high’ after increasing for several years in a row.”  It went on to say: “The problem threatens to slow China’s progress in clearing its air and controlling the greenhouse gas emissions that make it the top contributor to climate change.”

A CanWEA blog (Canadian Wind Energy Association) by Brandy Giannetta, also on June 5,  was headlined:  “Adding more wind to the Ontario grid: no problem!”

Ms. Giannetta made these claims:  

“Ontario could reliably integrate about 16,000 megawatts of wind energy (which would be able to meet more than a third of electricity demand in the scenario studied).

The additional amount of electricity generation reserves required to back up that 16,000 MW of wind (beyond the reserve capacity already in the system) would be as small as 196 megawatts, or 1.2 per cent of the wind energy capacity.

Wind energy, which is now the least-cost option for new electricity generation available in Ontario, would avoid about $49 per megawatt-hour of production costs within the electricity system if it supplied 35 per cent of Ontario’s electricity demand.”

The claims made on the blog supposedly used information from a partially taxpayer-funded, three-year study released in July 2016 co-sponsored by CanWEA and Natural Resources Canada and carried out by GE Energy Consulting, a subsidiary of General Electric. (GE’s website claims  “Our portfolio of turbines feature rated capacities from 1.7 MW to 3.8 MW (Onshore) and 6MW (Offshore), we are uniquely suited to meet the needs of a broad range of wind regimes.”)  As one would expect there is a “legal notice” (disclaimer) at the start of the report which names CanWEA as their client.

Needless to say, the report is extensive but looking at the 62-page Section 1, Summary Report, I noted the following, suggesting CanWEA suggest the small “reserve capacity” of  only 196 MW is required to back up the 11,000 MW of new wind capacity and could be integrated:

“1.11.9 Reduced Reserves from Conventional Generation    — This sensitivity examined the impact of reducing the level of spinning reserves obtained from conventional generation resources (thermal and hydro). Instead the reserves could be obtained from demand response, storage devices, or other nonconventional resources. This approach could reduce curtailment during periods where conventional generation resources are dispatched to their minimum output limits.”

The suggested CanWEA small 196-MW “reserves” being all that would be needed is a huge “stretch goal” (to use a phrase once favoured by the ruling Ontario government) and highly improbable!  It suggests dispatching existing “conventional generation resources” will allow wind to contribute a lot more of its intermittent and unreliable generation.

The same section contained a stumbling block in respect to containing further cost increases as it notes: “Production simulation results show no significant reduction in curtailment. This indicates that the system is not constrained by the commitment of conventional generation units for reserve services.”

What that means is, curtailment will remain as is, as long as ratepayers pick up the costs of constraining conventional generation. It infers industrial wind generation be treated as “base-load” with “first to the grid” rights!   Somehow, CanWEA view the expensive: “demand response, storage devices or other nonconventional resources” along with dispatch of conventional generation as an unrelated cost ratepayers must pay for unreliable and intermittent generation from industrial wind turbines, yet they claim “wind is now the least-cost option”.  This appears to be CanWEA’s contribution to the “Fair Hydro Plan” kicking wind’s integration costs to the ratepayers bills!

Now with two conflicting perspectives about IWT curtailment from China and CanWEA, let’s look at recent Ontario history sourced from IESO and Scott Luft’s Monthly Wind data.

IESO reported in their 2016 Year-End Data they dispatched 2,244,230 MWh  “representing 19 per cent of the total amount of wind energy produced in the province.So, 2% more than China’s “shockingly high” amount garnered no attention in Ontario!   Dispatched wind in 2016 added approximately $270 million to the GA for undelivered power, and no doubt caused nuclear steam-off and spilled hydro adding additional costs to the GA pot.

Scott’s files contain TX (transmission connected) and DX (distributor connected) wind generation as well as what has proven to be relatively conservative estimates of “curtailed” generation. For the first five months of the current year, curtailed wind was 1,580,629 MWh, which represented 22.3% of grid delivered and curtailed wind. It looks like the current year will easily surpass the record amount dispatched in 2016 in MWh and percentage terms.

Combining the average costs of wind generated MWh along with dispatched MWh suggests an average cost of a kWh from industrial wind turbines for the first five months of 2017 was 17.5 cents /kWh and for May 2017 was 23.4 cents /kWh.

Those costs to Ontario ratepayers makes it relatively easy to understand Ms. Giannetta’s closing paragraph on her blog where the “we” in the following sentence suggests she is clearly speaking for the members of CanWEA!

“It’s increasingly obvious that we are only beginning to reap the benefits of wind energy in Ontario.”

© Parker Gallant

One spring day just cost you millions

A happy day for power importers south of the border. For you? Not so much…

April 9, 2017 was a perfect day to demonstrate the mess the current Ontario government could have expected if they had simply done a cost-benefit study of the electricity sector prior to imposing the GEA (Green Energy and Green Economy Act).

The April 9th IESO generator report and Daily Market Summary provide highlights of many of the mistakes the Liberal government has made, as does my friend Scott Luft’s “Daily Electricity Supply Estimates.”  IESO’s report fails to provide details of distributor connected (DX) generation (principally solar and wind) whereas Scott estimates those along with the curtailment of wind, solar, hydro and nuclear generation. His estimates have proven to be on the conservative side in the past.

IESO’s “Market Summary” shows Ontario Demand was only 294,600 MWh (megawatt hours) which Scott noted was the “3rd lowest Ontario Demand day in the history of the market” and that day, along with five other recent “lowest Ontario Demand” days have all occurred within the past 12 months.   How low is demand? Scott says the six low demand days were lower than any day during the massive blackout of 2003.

Seriously.

Demand in Ontario on April 9th of 294,600 MWh could have been easily supplied by nuclear generation (236,400 MWh including 14,800 MWh steamed-off) and hydro generation (101,900 MWh including 1,200 MWh spilled, and 2,600 MWh from DX).  Those two clean, emission-free power sources could have delivered 338,300 MWh, leaving 43,700 MWh available for sale to our neighbours.  The 338,300 MWh should have cost Ontario ratepayers $20,554,000 based on what we pay on average for nuclear and hydro generation.  That would equate to 6.1 cents per kilowatt hour (kWh) combined!

As it happened, Sunday April 9 saw 51,400 MWh of net exports (exports less imports) sent to our neighbours in Michigan, New York and elsewhere, along with an average payment of $3.08/MWh. They gladly took those free MWh along with our payment of $158,312.00.

Sunday April 9th also saw Ontario’s ratepayers pick up the bill for transmission (TX) and DX-connected wind of 25,700 MWh and another 46,300 MWh of curtailed (one of the highest curtailed days ever) wind at a total cost of $9.290 million.  If we calculate the cost for just the accepted wind generation (25,700 MWh,) the cost per MWh becomes $361/MWh or 36.1 cents/kWh.

Ontario ratepayers also picked up the bill for the 10,533 MWh of solar generation (DX and TX) and the 667 MWh of solar estimated as curtailed. Solar’s costs were $5.280 million, which means the delivered generation cost last Sunday was $501.28/MWh or 50.1 cents/kWh.

Meanwhile, those same ratepayers picked up a $4.143 million bill for gas generators who delivered 5,773 MWh (TX and DX) at a delivered cost of $717.12/MWh or 71.7 cents/kWh. Scott Luft noted the 5,773 MWh delivered to the system by the gas plants set a record low.*

The cost of unnecessary power for ONE DAY?

The total cost of the unneeded supply of power on April 9th coming from wind, solar, gas and biofuel ($368,000) plus the payment made to export ($158,312.) came to over $20 million.

What that means is, this one day of generation, Ontario’s ratepayers are obliged to pay for, was $40.8 million or 13.6 cents/kWh yet the 294,000 MWh they actually consumed was produced at a cost of $17.9 million (not including the $2.7 million loss on exporting).

Premier Wynne has admitted her government has made mistakes on the energy file. The “mistake” on that Spring day turned out to be a burden on all of Ontario’s ratepayers (rich and poor) with the extra cost of over $20 million in order for the Minister of the Environment and Climate Change and Premier Wynne to be able to claim the “cap and trade” tax is driving down emissions in the energy sector, by reducing generation from fossil fuels (gas).

They are not likely to mention that anyone using electricity from Ontario’s generators would have had to more than double — 13.8 cents/kWh instead of the 6.1 cents/kWh — so they could make that claim!

* Lower gas generation will allow Glen Murray, Minister of the Environment and Climate Change to claim the “cap and trade” tax is working.

Found! Where the Wynne government spent $36 billion!

Not all of it useful.

March 26, 2017

Ontario Energy Minister Thibeault claimed the government spent $35 billion on the electricity sector while Premier Wynne says it was $50 billion. But neither of them provided an accounting as to exactly what the money was spent on, and what the value was for ratepayers.   They both claim the system was “broken” when the Liberals took over governing, and the money spent fixed the system.

If Minister Thibeault’s $35 billion is factual it would represent spending $8,000 per residential ratepayer; if Premier Wynne’s $50 billion is true it means $11,000 per ratepayer. Bear that in mind as you travel through my computations.

The spending via directives from the Energy Minister’s office were, and continue to be, frequent (well over 100 to the OPA [merged with IESO], OPG, OEB and Hydro One); the directives often had no connection to fixing anything, or generating electricity.

Here’s a look by category. Some of these are estimates but the estimates come from reasonable and reliable sources. 

Billions Spent to December 31, 2016

Category: Frills and shiny baubles *

1.Spending on “smart meters”!                                      $2 B

(Ontario’s Auditor General in her report of December 2014 basically said we have wasted the money spent!)

2.The “smart grid” aimed to work with smart meters!  $1.2 B

(We are all billed for the costs of developing the “smart grid” but the benefits accrue to only a few select individuals and companies.)

3. “Closing the coal plants” requiring OPG to write off the     $ .6 B

(This meant the OPG had to write off the remaining value of those plants including their scrubbers for removing emissions!)

4.“Conservation” spending, $3-4 million/year       $2.5 B

5. Moving the gas plants                  $1.1 B

TOTAL spending for frills and shiny baubles: $7.4B

Category: The unreliable and intermittent**    

The IESO’s 18 Month Outlook covering April 2017 to September 2018 provides approximations of grid and distribution connected wind and solar which are:

Wind generation as at March 31, 2017 will be approximately 4,650 MW and at a capitalcost of $2.2 million per MW had a cost of                                                                             $10.2 B

Solar generation as at March 31, 2017 will be approximately 2,389 MW and at a capital cost of $2.6 million per MW had a cost of                                                                             $ 5.2 B

Transmission spending by Hydro One to connect wind and solar to the grid and for embedded connection expenditures is estimated to have had a cost of                                  $5.0 B

TOTAL spending for unreliable and intermittent $20.4B 

Category: Photo-op generation***

1.“Big Becky” which went $600 million over budget in an effort to squeeze 150 MWs of capacity from Niagara Falls at a cost of   $ 1.5 billion

2.“Mattagami” originally a $1.6 billion dollar project to increase the rated capacity by 438 MW (NB) it went over budget by $1 billion reaching a cost of    $ 2.6 billion

TOTAL spending for Photo-Op generation $4.1B

Note: In 2010, before both of the above were completed, OPG produced 30.6 TWh (terawatt hours) of hydro generation; so, despite adding the above 588 MW of capacity, hydro generation in 2016 fell to 29.5 TWh.  A quick look at the generation from the Mattagami units on March 21st indicates they generated power at about 8% of rated capacity, while all other hydro was operating at an average of about 50% of rated capacity.

Category: Value for money

It appears that some of the claimed investments in generation did actually provide some value. The Bruce Nuclear refurbishment (NBB) of two units came at a cost of $4.8 billion but according to Ben Chin, former VP of the OPA, the cost to ratepayers was limited to   …        $ 3.4B

Note: Bruce Nuclear over the four (4) years (2013 to 2016) have annually generated an average of 10 TWh above their 2012 generation, prior to the refurbishment, at a cost of about 6.6 cents per kWh.

TOTAL spending for Value for money: $3.4B

TOTAL estimate for all spending to the end of 2016:                                                            $36.7 B                                                   

This estimate comes reasonably close to the $35 billion Energy Minister, Glenn Thibeault claimed was spent in his September 13, 2016 press release.

Category: What’s still to come?

The IESO Outlook referenced above indicates we have contracted for additional generation which will be added to the grid in the next 18 months (April 2017 to September 2018) including:

Another 500 MW of wind capacity with an estimated capital cost of                                   $ 1.1 billion

Another 100 MW of solar capacity with an estimated capital cost of                                    $   .3 billion

Another 1,300 MW of gas (assumption is single cycle @ $.75 million/MW) at a cost of $0.9B  

TOTAL for What’s still to come? $2.3B

 Even if one includes the money still to be spent, the total investments (most of them wasted) is shy of the $50 billion Premier Wynne claims has been spent, by $11 B.

We still need to see Minister Thibeault’s accounting, and Premier Wynne’s too, to allow the taxpayers and ratepayers of the province to determine whether all of the spending has provided the value for our tax dollars claimed by the Premier and Energy Minister.

___________

NOTES

*Money spent that created no generation nor improved transmission nor reduced blackouts or brownouts.

**Refers to the intermittent and unreliable nature of wind and solar, which are unable to deliver generation when the wind isn’t blowing and the sun’s not shining.

***Money spent on large hydro infrastructure projects that produce little power but presented great photo-op situations for Ontario Liberal Energy Ministers and even Premiers.

 

 

 

Ontario Power Generation report: good news and bad news

Ontario Power Generation (OPG) just released its annual report for the year ended December 31, 2016.

It’s a mix of good and bad news.

For example, gross revenue (net of fuel expenses) increased by $137 million and $34 million of that increase found its way to the bottom line, for a $436 million profit.

Generation from 2015 increased slightly from 78 terawatt hours (TWh) to 78.2 TWh, with nuclear generation increasing by 1.1 TWh and hydro decreasing by .9 TWh, which was further exacerbated (see next paragraph) by spillage due to surplus base-load conditions.

The bad news was that 4.7 TWh of hydro was “spilled” or wasted in 2016, up from 3.7 TWh in 2015. Those wasted 4.7 TWh of power could have supplied more than 500,000 (approximately 11% of all residential ratepayers) average Ontario homes with electricity for the full year.

The spillage by OPG didn’t affect their revenue, however, as they are paid for spillage at an average of about $44/MWh or $44 million/TWh. That means they received $207 million for wasted power and paid the Ontario Ministry of Finance the “water rental” fee for the spillage (although the latter wasn’t disclosed in the report).

Other “good/bad” news indicates OPG sold their Head Office on University Avenue in Toronto with closing scheduled for the second quarter of 2017. They expect the sale will generate an after-tax profit of $200 million.  The bad news is, OPG is obligated to turn over the profit to the Consolidated Revenue Fund. The land, building and maintenance costs fell to the ratepayers of Ontario to pay for via the electricity rates, yet the profit generated on its sale will be tossed into the bottomless pit of the Finance Ministry, instead of going towards reducing OPG’s costs of generation which could have benefited ratepayers.  That $200 million won’t even pay the interest on Ontario’s debt for a week!

SOLD! But the money won’t help you ..

The previous Energy Minister Bob Chiarelli on June 9, 2016 (four days before he was replaced by Glenn Thibeault) also issued a “declaration” to OPG instructing them: “to transfer, sell, dispose of or divest all of the Corporation’s interest in the Lakeview Site, comprised of the Municipal Park Lands and the Uplands”.  The Lakeview site is 67 acres running along the Lake Ontario shoreline and the Municipal Park Lands are the remaining 110 acres of the Lakeview Site.  Any excess revenues associated with the sale is to be transferred to the Government (Consolidated Revenue Fund), again rather than going to reduce electricity rates.

Ontario’s ratepayers absorbed the impairment costs of closing the coal plants in 2003, absorbing a “loss of $576 million as a result of the termination of cash flows from these stations after 2007.” The ratepayers of the province deserve to benefit from any recovery resulting from the write-off of the plant closings!

All this is more evidence of the “shell game” being perpetrated on Ontario ratepayers and taxpayers and the continuing legacy of the McGuinty/Wynne-led governments.

More to come …

Where did our $50 billion go? Or, how Ontario citizens lost $18 mil in just 2 days

Premier Wynne making her announcement: no accounting for costs [Photo: PostMedia]
Almost a week after Premier Wynne announced her plan to reduce our electricity bills by 25%, the wind was blowing!  On March 8, six days after the cost shifting  announcement (from ratepayer to taxpayer), potential power generation from wind was forecast by IESO to produce at levels of 80/95% of their capacity, for many hours of the day.  IESO was concerned about grid stability and as a consequence, curtailed much of the forecasted generation.

When the Premier made her announcement about reducing hydro bills, she also claimed “Decades of under-investment in the electricity system by governments of all stripes resulted in the need to invest more than $50 billion in generation, transmission and distribution assets to ensure the system is clean and reliable.”

It is worth noting that much of that $50 billion was spent acquiring wind and solar generation and its associated spending on transmission, plus gas plants (to back them up because the power is intermittent), and distribution assets to hook them into the grid or embed them with the local distribution companies. It would have been informative if Premier Wynne had had Energy Minister Glen Thibeault provide an accounting of exactly what the $50 billion was spent on.

As it turned out the amount of curtailed wind generated on March 8 was 37,044 megawatt hours (MWh) was just short of the record of 38,018 MWh set almost a year ago on March 16, 2016 (estimated by my friend Scott Luft).  The curtailed wind on March 8, 2017 cost Ontario’s ratepayers $120/MWh or $4,445,280.

The cost on March 16, 2016 was $4,562,160.

What does it mean? Curtailing or restricting power output but paying for it anyway means a portion of the $50 billion spent was simply wasted money. It went to the corporate power developers that rushed to sign those above-market contracts for renewable power.

The other interesting aspect of the surplus power generation on March 16, 2016 and March 8, 2017 is revealed in IESO’s Daily Market Summaries: the hourly Ontario energy price (HOEP)  March 16, 2016 was negative at -$1.25/MWh and on March 8th, 2017 was also negative at -.49 cents/MWh. This meant ratepayers paid for surplus exports sold to our neighbours in New York and Michigan, etc. Net exports (exports minus imports) on March 16, 2016 were 52,368 MWh, and on March 8, 2017 were 37,944 MWh. Total costs of their generation (HOEP + GA) fell to Ontario’s ratepayers along with the cost of any spilled hydro, steamed off nuclear and idling gas plants.

Millions here, millions there = a whole lot of wasted money

So, bear with me here, if we price the cost of the net exports at $110/MWh for those two days, ratepayer costs were approximately $9.8 million with $5.7 million for March 16, 2016 net exports and $4.1 million for March 8, 2017 net exports, not including the $84,000 we paid our neighbours to take our power.

How much did it cost you? Two days out of 729 (2016 was a leap year) cost Ontario ratepayers about $18.1 million for power not delivered (curtailed wind) or needed (net exports).

I hope this helps Minister Thibeault in his calculations for a long overdue accounting to Ontario citizens as to where the other $49.982 billion went.

 

Behind the scenes at Premier Wynne’s news conference

While the Premier was promising relief for Ontario electricity customers (and blaming lots of other people), more proof of the government’s mistakes was occurring …

The press conference and press release on March 2nd for Premier Wynne’s announcement on reducing electricity bills by 25% took a full hour — she and Energy Minister Glenn Thibeault hung around to answer questions from the media.

The speech and the press release were a mea culpa — she apparently hadn’t noticed rates had climbed and referred to those high rates as the “elephant in the room.”  She laid the blame on all previous governments in her answers to questions, for example:

Decades of under-investment in the electricity system by governments of all stripes resulted in the need to invest more than $50 billion in generation, transmission and distribution assets to ensure the system is clean and reliable.

The decision to eliminate Ontario’s use of coal and produce clean, renewable power, as well as policies put in place to provide targeted support to rural and low-income customers, have created additional costs.

If the premier was genuinely interested in the cause for high electricity bills she could have looked no farther back than her immediate predecessor, Dalton McGuinty. Premier McGuinty brought Ontario the Green Energy Act and the misinformed, unfounded belief that getting power from industrial wind turbines and solar panels, while paying at price multiples of other available reliable power, would work!

Those wind turbines and solar panels were generating power out of phase with Ontario demand even during her news conference, for which ratepayers are paying as much as 80.2 cents a kilowatt hour (kWh).

During the news conference hour, Ontario ratepayers consumed 17,300 megawatt hours (MWh); 85% of that consumption was provided by nuclear (10,000 MWh) and hydro (4,900 MWh).  The balance came from gas, wind, solar and biomass. The average generation cost of nuclear and hydro generation was about $59/MWh (5.9 cents/kWh) and $191/MWh (19.1 cents/kWh) for the 15% provided by gas, wind, solar and biomass.   The former costs include the “water tax” on hydro generation and the “decommissioning and fuel disposal” costs of nuclear whereas the latter does NOT include the cost of curtailed wind, idling costs of gas plants or the costs of moving those two gas plants from Oakville and Mississauga to save Liberal seats during the McGuinty era!

Also during that hour, Ontario exported 1,075 MWh to Michigan and 1,203 MWh to New York.  Those 2,078 MWh (20% of Ontario’s demand) were sold to our neighbours at an average of $11.38/MWh (1.14 cents/kWh). The exports cost about $202,000, under the contract terms, yet resulted in just $23,000 of revenue to offset that cost. Ontario ratepayers picked up the loss of $179,000.

In fact, for that whole day, “net exports” hit Ontario’s ratepayers with a cost of $2.4 million.

Admitting she made a “mistake” while blaming decades of previous “governments of all stripes” is not a solution. And the 25% reduction in bills isn’t real, either: Premier Wynne is kicking the can down the road and laying the burden of her mistake on taxpayers.  She still doesn’t appear to have the political courage to admit she, Mr. McGuinty and their governments made a mistake believing the environmental non-government organizations who persuaded them to believe in a green dream that has now, negatively affected all ratepayers in the province, driving away jobs in the private sector.

The herd of elephants is still in the room. Premier Wynne should start clearing them out by cancelling all wind and solar contracts that have not put a shovel in the ground!