Knighthood within the Eco-royalty

The latest issue of the magazine, Corporate Knights is, as always, about clean capitalism and the latest issue does not deviate from that theme.  No matter which article you read it’s all about “climate change” and reducing emissions.  The magazine is published quarterly and distributed by the Globe and Mail and Washington Post.  Advertising dollars seem to come from those companies endorsed via their “rankings”. This issue contains a “Global 100 Progress Report” and many on that list have placed ads.

An article in this issue was written by Gideon Forman an analyst with the David Suzuki Foundation. For over 11 years Forman was Executive Director of CAPE (Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment).  CAPE was and still is a relatively small charity with annual revenue of $386K (June 30, 2019 CRA filing) and received $107K of that from the Federal government. Nevertheless they claim many victories including phasing out coal plants, cosmetics pesticides, etc., etc. The David Suzuki Foundation on the other hand in their CRA filing for 2018 show revenue of $11.7 million and spent $1.8 million of those revenues on fundraising activities.

Forman’s article in Corporate Knights is titled “The man of wind, water and sun” and is a fawning article about Brian Iler, a lawyer who appears to reside on the Toronto Islands. Iler is an environmentalist and the article notes he “has been the creative legal mind behind a host of cutting-edge renewable energy projects, social ventures and co-ops that have challenged received wisdom.” The article goes on to note Iler was “the go-to counsel for Ontario’s cooperative sector,” and he “received a call from an engineer who wanted to erect wind turbines in Toronto. That was the start of the development of the iconic TREC wind turbine* at Exhibition Place now owned by Toronto Hydro. Finding a location for the wind turbine was difficult “until a naturalists’ group proposed Exhibition Place, but the zoning didn’t work.” A city official suggested; “Call it an amusement device” and “That’s what appeared on the building permit.”

Iler in April 2013 wrote an article about industrial wind turbines and in it he claimed “Scientists agree that the noise emitted by wind turbines ‑- the chief source of alleged health effects -‑ is basically indistinguishable from normal background sounds we experience in everyday life, whether we live in an urban or rural area.”

While Iler made the foregoing claim about wind turbines he was very upset about other noises and for several years fought against the Island Airport due to the “intolerable” noise.   An article in The Bulletin Iler penned June 6, 2018 stated: “That airport is a legacy heavy industrial use, completely out of step with the dominant recreational and residential character of our waterfront today.”  Iler was castigated in a letter from the CEO of Ports Toronto who, in his letter to Mr. Iler stated: “You are in fact the founding Chair of an organization dedicated to the airport’s closure, a position I might note that is clearly out of step with the sentiment of the vast majority of Toronto residents.”

The airport closes at 11 PM so one assumes the noise ceases at that time. Perhaps if Mr. Iler spent a few windy nights 500 metres from a 500 foot high wind turbine, he might not think of them as “an amusement device”!

Another part of the article commends Iler stating; “Iler is an expert on innovative funding models. Thanks in part to his efforts, Ontario has become a hotspot for renewable-energy-based community bonds, including SolarShare (a co-op that floats bonds to finance sun-powered arrays throughout Ontario) and ZooShare (a biogas co-operative).  Both of the foregoing have negatively impacted ratepayers and taxpayers in Ontario.

Ilier himself claims he played a major role in convincing the McGuinty led Ontario Liberal government to enact the GEA (Green Energy and Green Economy Act) in his biography (posted on his firms website).  He and other self-appointed luminaries such as Bruce Lourie, Marion Fraser, etc. were members of both OSEA and/or the GEAA (Green Energy Act Alliance) who convinced former Energy Minister and Deputy Premier, George Smitherman, to push the GEA through the provincial legislature.  Ratepayers of the Province have been paying the price of that “Act” since its enactment!

While Corporate Knights and environmentalists of the Gideon Forman ilk want to crown themselves and others such as Brian Iler; it is the ratepayers/taxpayers of Ontario who continue to suffer the consequences!

Perhaps it’s time for those who self-label themselves as knights to recognize they are charlatans.

NB: A contact of the writer disclosed the following suggesting another fact was untrue!

“The OPA called out Exhibition Place for claiming the wind turbine was the source of energy for charging their electric golf cart type vehicles. In fact, both turbine and charging stations were connected to the grid with separate accounts. As I recall, this was likely because the kWh payment for power delivered to the grid was higher than their kWh cost for the charging. Our point was that their claim about the wind turbine charging the golf carts was misleading to the public who might consider something similar.”

NBB: The Exhibition Place turbine was also created for the purpose on indoctrinating our children as this excerpt from a  August 28, 2012 indicates: “The Exhibition Place wind turbine doubles as the linchpin of a large-scale education program. In the 2008/2009 school year TREC reached more than 4,000 grade 5, 7 and 9 students.”

*The Trec Co-op Exhibition Place wind turbine is an abysmal economic failure as noted in an article penned in July 2014.

Pan-Canadian Expert Collaboration, Phase Four

As Yogi Berra once said, “it’s déjà vu all over again”!

My somewhat relentless review of the electricity sector started about 10 years ago as Ontario embarked on the unmitigated disaster that was the Green Energy Act and its focus on acquiring unreliable wind and solar generation. I was recently reminded; many of the ENGO names and individuals associated with my research back then are still around and have become more verbose. They are imbibing in more of the panic exercised years ago and using more tax dollars in the process. That conclusion was reached by researching the “collaborators” participating in the captioned, connecting names, reviewing websites and CRA’s Charities files to see where the money comes from and where it goes.  Those ENGO and individuals have moved on from renewable energy worship to “carbon tax” endorsement!

One example was one of those chosen as an expert collaborator highlighted in Phase Three.  MaRS Discovery District, a creation of the McGuinty led, Ontario Liberal ruling party. In 2014, MaRS received $26.7 million from the province and zero from the Feds. In 2018 the province gave them $31.7 and the Feds coughed up $2.9 million.  In other words, our tax dollars to them increased $7.8 million (29.2%) in four years.  Most readers will recall Ontario’s taxpayers bailed out MaRS failed real estate deal to the tune of $308 million. MaRS also receives revenue from other charities ($2.8 million in 2018) and hands out money to other charities such as Evergreen, (somewhere between $100/$500 thousand) one of the other “collaborators” in the P-CEC group.  MaRS also handed out grants to CEGN (Canadian Environmental Grantmakers Network), a Bruce Lourie creation renamed Environment Funders Canada. Lourie is President of the Ivey Foundation another “collaborator” in the P-CEC group.

From outward appearances the chosen ones are destined to tell PM Trudeau’s government and his new “Environment Minister”, Jonathan Wilkinson, how much to UP the “carbon tax”!  MaRS, as noted in Phase Three, also received grants from the Trillium Foundation (provincially owned) and were granted money from another McGuinty creation; Friends of the Greenbelt (FOTG)–funded by taxpayers and another member of Environment Funders Canada. FOTG hand out grants to ENGO’s such as Environmental Defence where Lourie once held a vaunted position. As an aside the CEO of MaRS earns a salary north of $350,000 annually-not too shabby for a registered charity!

Now let’s look at two more of the “collaborators” connected with the Ivey Foundation:

Evergreen and Future Cities Canada—a P-CEC “collaborator”

It’s unclear what Evergreen brings to the table as a collaborator as their focus for almost 20 years has been to convert an old brickworks plant into what is an urban farmer’s and garden market.  Their CEO doesn’t appear to have a degree related to “climate” issues but according to their filing with the CRA it appears he may be paid in excess of $250K per year. Evergreen have done a remarkable job at raising charitable funds over the years, so, maybe that is the key to being chosen.  Revenue in 2008 was $5.758 million and in 2018 was $21.762 million, an increase of 277% in only 10 years.  Their 2018 annual report shows they received over $1 million from both the Provincial and Federal governments and over $500K from the Trillium Foundation (Lourie was a former Director and Trillium are members of Environment Funders Canada). The J. W. McConnell Foundation is also included in the same contributing group as Trillium and also have been a major grantor to one of the Lourie creations (more on that one in the future) and are also members of Environment Funders Canada. They donated $1.1 million in 2017 and $775 thousand in 2018 to Evergreen. In reviewing the Trillium grants listing, it shows they have granted over $1.8 million over the past few years to Evergreen.  MaRS (another collaborator) is credited with donating somewhere between $50K to $100K in 2018 and the same in earlier years. The Ivey Foundation has granted them at least $60K in the past few years.

Adaptation to Climate Change Team (ACT), Simon Fraser University—a P-CEC “collaborator”

Often when researching individuals involved in predicting the end of the world due to “climate change” one finds the parties leading the predictions have little or no affiliation with the sciences needed to logically develop that line of thought.  In the case of ACT, it is led by Deborah Harford.  Ms. Harford is the Executive Director of ACT and her formal training indicates she holds an SFU “Bachelor of Communications and English, Communication and Media Studies”.  Ms. Harford is active in posting any articles favouring the concept of “climate change” as one would expect from her degree, but she posts none on the ACT website with a differing view. SFU prides itself on its affiliation with similar institutions including Clean Energy Canada (launched by Tides Canada) as they attract donations from charitable institutions such as the IVEY Foundation* (over $1 million since 2014), $900K from the McConnell Family Foundation, $2.3 million from the Trottier Family Foundation (another P-CEC “collaborator”!   Both of the latter are members of Environment Funders Canada.

Perhaps if one augments the perceptions of those handing out the grants, the money will continue to flow, to those who produce the prejudicial and supportive reports the grantor sought!  Just an abstract thought!

While Phases one through four of this series have raised the connection concept of the Ivey Foundation’s relationship with six of the P-CEC named “collaborators” there are a few more of interest. The tale of the tangled web will continue in the next Phase!

*A few hundred thousand dollars was also granted to Tides Canada.

Gerald Butts might not be happy

Ontario Power Generation is making some moves that may make Gerald Butts both happy and unhappy

[Photo: Delsan AIM Environmental Services]
Former McGuinty major domo and Trudeau chief of staff Gerald Butts posted a Tweet about the demolition of the Ontario Power Generation (OPG) Nanticoke coal power plant with this somewhat off the wall claim.

Gerald Butts @gmbutts Aug 23  When Dalton McGuinty was elected in 2003, everyone (including OPG) told him this couldn’t be done. Then he and @DwightDuncan did it. This is what progress on #climatechange looks like. The end of 7550MW of coal in Ontario.”

He was inspired apparently by David Hains of the Globe and Mail who Tweeted about the demolition that “This is quite something not just for the spectacular visuals, but also how it closes the book on what was once the largest coal plant in North America, and the largest single source of greenhouse gases.”

So, here are some facts, to put Nanticoke into perspective with renewables.

Nanticoke versus solar

The 4,000 MW Nanticoke coal plant was able to produce 21 million MWh annually,* had 600 employees and has now been replaced by a 44 MW solar array that might produce 58,000 MWh** annually. This would make Gerald Butts happy!

Nanticoke could have produced 364 times more power than the 44 MW of solar panels! The 44 MW of solar panels sit on 260 acres and produce power when the sun shines, whereas the Nanticoke coal plant could produce power when needed. If OPG’s objective was to replace the 4,000 MW with solar (generating at an average of 15 per cent of capacity) they would require 364 times more solar panels and almost 96,000 acres*** of land! (One wonders if OPG had made that move how many employees would be required to sweep the snow off the panels come a blustery winter?)

Replacing Nanticoke’s potential generation with solar panels would have cost about $9.4 billion**** annually versus approximately $630 million at a cost of 3 cents/kwh.

Nanticoke vs. wind power   

Another OPG announcement in late May indicated they would abandon their one  industrial wind turbine (IWT)  and dismantle it.  The press release suggested: “At full power, it could produce enough energy to power about 330 homes.” What that implies is, the 1.8 MW turbine (located on the Pickering Nuclear plant site) operated at about 19% of its capacity to produce intermittent power for those homes. Had OPG opted to replace the Nanticoke coal plant with IWT generation operating at 30% of capacity they would have required 8,000 MW. As a matter of interest CanWEA reported 5,076 MW in operation in Ontario at the end of 2018. Those 8,000 MW of IWT may have supplied the 21 million MWh the Nanticoke plant was capable of generating but, only 35 per cent of the time when Ontario demand required it! The land needed for the 8,000 MW would be about 6,000 acres or twenty-three times the land Nanticoke used.

The annual cost of replacing Nanticoke’s generation with IWT would be north of $2.8 billion***** versus $630 million.

OPG back into fossil fuels

A very recent OPG announcement will surely make Gerald Butts very unhappy! An OPG subsidiary reached agreement with affiliates of TC Energy to acquire natural gas assets at a cost of $2.87 billion.  They are acquiring full ownership of the Napanee plant (900 MW) involved in the McGuinty/Liberal gas plant scandal, Halton Hills (683 MW) and the 50% (275 MW) of Portlands they don’t own.  In total, the 1,858 MW they are acquiring will cost $1.54 million/MW which appears on the high side; however, one would assume OPG would also retain the contracts.

In the case of the Napanee plant they will receive $15K per turbine per month for simply idling, meaning annual revenue should be $162 million.  It one assumes the remaining 958 MW will be paid at a lesser rate of say, $12K per turbine per month, that would add another $138 million annually.  In simple terms OPG should recover their full costs in just under 10 years!  What that hopefully means is the effect of the acquisition should be negligible in respect to ratepayers; however, it appears the Napanee plant has not been commissioned.  Ratepayers should hope the OPG agreement to purchase requires commissioning!

 

So, in summary, OPG is getting back into the fossil fuel business instead of adding renewable energy in the form of either solar panels or wind turbines. We ratepayers/taxpayers should remember the reason we needed the gas plants in the first place was to back up the intermittent and unreliable wind and solar plants that collectively represent about 7,500 MW of sporadic capacity and were instrumental in driving up electricity costs by a factor in excess of three times inflation rates.

PARKER GALLANT

*Enough to supply 2.5 million average Ontario households.

**Enough to supply 6,400 average households.

***That is almost equal to the area the City of London, Ontario currently occupies.

****At the current average cost of solar generation estimated as $$440 per MWh not including back-up

*****Estimated at a cost of $135 per MWh but without back-up.

Wind power: not in evidence on Ontario’s hot summer days

Looking for wind power for fans and A/C? Don’t bother

While the wind power lobby claims it could supply as much as one-third of our power, the hot summer days tell a different story — wind is pretty much nowhere to be found

A post on the wind power lobbyist the Canadian Wind Energy Association/  CanWEA’s website about seven months ago (December 6, 2018) stated:  “The Pan Canadian Wind Integration Study* – the largest of its kind ever done in Canada – concluded that this country’s energy grid can be both highly reliable and one-third wind powered.”

Based on the hot days of July 2, 3, and 4 we have just experienced here in Ontario, the “one-third” of wind generation required would have been 482,430 MWh meaning wind capacity would have to be quite a bit larger than the 4,486 MW* currently grid-connected.

On top of that, the wind turbines would have to operate well in excess of the level they operated at during those three days.

Over the three days, total electricity demand was high-averaging just under 483,000 MWh per day. While nuclear, hydro and gas provided almost all of the power (1.448 TWh) needed the 4,486 MW of grid-connected wind generating capacity contributed 12,056 MWh in total over those three days.

That output represented a meagre 0.83% of total demand.

What that suggests is this: operating at that level would require in excess of 86,000 MW of wind capacity (2.3 times Ontario’s existing total grid connected capacity) to simply meet the “one-third” claim.

It would be a big stretch to ever see them contribute the self-proclaimed “one-third” of power the wind power lobby claims.

Hot muggy summer days and very cold winter days when electricity demand is at its highest is generally when industrial wind turbines take the day off!

One-third wind powered would be the antitheses of a “highly reliable” grid.

PARKER GALLANT

*Partially funded by taxpayer dollars

**4,486 MW of capacity operating at 100% would produce approximately 323,000 MWh over three days

 

The “great day for Canada”

The recent headline on the website North American Windpower read, “CanWEA Applauds New Carbon Pricing: ‘A Great Day For Canada’ “!

The article below the headline, as one would expect, had a cheering section from Robert Hornung, the President of CanWEA as follows:

“This measure sends a clear signal to investors,” comments Robert Hornung, president of CanWEA. “Ensuring that new natural gas-fired electricity generation will have all emissions exposed to the price on carbon by 2030 means that more carbon-free options like wind energy and solar energy will be deployed instead of fossil-fueled electricity generation, creating thousands of jobs and bringing investments into Canadian communities while protecting our climate. This is a great day for Canada.”

Instead of luring investors with the hope of riches in the wind, one might hope that Hornung’s diatribe sends a clear message to politicians and those responsible for managing the electricity grid (in the provinces affected) that they shouldn’t buy into the rhetoric! The reason most provinces have gas plants is to ensure there is power available when the wind doesn’t blow and those turbines sit idle (those forced to live close to the noisy machines love when that happens).

Ontario has seen high demand in recent days as temperatures rose and air conditioners were fired up to cool homes and businesses.   On July 2, total demand was 463,656 MWh and wind generation delivered to the grid from the approximately 4,500 MW of wind capacity in Ontario was 4,054 MWh over 24 hours or — that’s less than 1% of total demand.

While wind turbines were sleeping on that day, gas generators were required to fill in for them and supplied almost 34,000 MWh (7.3% of total demand).

In my view, all ratepayers (industrial, commercial and residential) should lobby the federal and (affected) provincial governments to alter regulations in respect to the “carbon tax” charge. The regulations should require both the wind and solar generators to produce power when required and if they are unable to do so, the applicable “carbon tax” should be charged to them during hours when producing power surplus to demand.

Presently that surplus generation is disposed of by either exporting it or curtailing it. Both of those actions currently come at a substantial cost to ratepayers. The regulation change would direct revenue from the charge applied to offset the additional cost ratepayers would be picking up from the carbon tax charge on gas generators when wind and solar are not generating needed power and they are called on to fill the gap.

To paraphrase CanWEA’s president, then a carbon pricing announcement wouldsend a clear signal” to the intermittent and unreliable wind and solar power generators that ratepayers are fed up with electricity rates that have soared in part due to costly and intermittent renewable wind.

That “carbon-free option” touted by Robert Hornung has cost ratepayers in Canada billions, to the benefit of mainly foreign owned companies.

It is time to reverse the trend!

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

“Quebec Inc” scoops up Ontario renewable energy projects

Valuable contracts with above-market rates for wind and solar power are attracting investor attention

Perhaps unbeknownst to many, Ontario’s electricity ratepayers are accumulating debt in the electricity file (Fair Hydro Plan or FHP); that debt will reappear in future years to ensure electricity rate increases exceed inflation by a wide margin.

The cause of the FHP debt can be traced to the Green Energy Act (GEA) and the FIT and MicroFIT contracts handed out by the Ontario Liberal Government under Premiers McGuinty and Wynne.  Those lucrative above-market (confirmed by the Auditor General) contracts were granted to mainly foreign-owned companies. The companies rushed to Ontario to take advantage of the above-market rates offered for renewable energy of the wind and solar variety.

Many of those foreign-owned companies are now leaving Ontario, cashing out on the lucrative contracts by selling them to willing buyers. Our provincial neighbour “Quebec Inc.”, with its cheap electricity prices, is rushing in to scoop up many of those contracts along with others like the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board (CPPIB). The latter purchased NextEra’s portfolio (Head Office Florida) of 396 MW of wind and solar contracts, paying $1.871 million per MW for a total of $741 million CAD and assuming the debt (US $689 million).

“Quebec Inc’s” acquisitions are more “under the radar” and most costs are unknown, but some of the bigger investment players with Quebec headquarters are very active.

The one recent acquisition from “Quebec Inc.” caught the attention of many in Eastern Ontario was the purchase of a controlling interest in the unbuilt 100-MW Nation Rise wind power project in North Stormont, south of Ottawa. When newly elected Premier Ford’s government announced they were cancelling 758 renewable wind and solar energy projects, most Ontarians thought Nation Rise would be one of: it wasn’t. Somehow the bureaucrats in the former Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change managed to issue the REA (renewable energy approval) just a few days before the election writ was dropped despite wind power and this project in particular being a prominent election issue.

To top things off, the IESO (Independent Electricity System Operator) were satisfied that EDPR had met their “key development milestones” and issued the NTP (Notice to Proceed) on June 13, 2019, days after the election and weeks before the Ford government announced the new cabinet.

When the approval became public, community group Concerned Citizens of North Stormont, stepped up their fight to stop the power project.

Project developer EDPR then sold off controlling interest in the Nation Rise project along with other existing operating projects. Before that happened however, EDPR submitted an application dated October 11, 2018 to the Ontario Energy Board (OEB) for a electricity generation licence. Question 13 of the application asks the question; “Has the applicant secured financing?”

EDPR ticked the NO box.

The OEB appears to have overlooked the lack of secured financing (based on the application) and granted the licence December 20, 2018 without comment.

EDPR is a subsidiary of EDP a global energy company with its headquarters in Portugal and with significant renewable energy assets in North and South America. With 2,300 industrial wind turbines in the USA, EDP rank third in installations.

EDP has been a takeover target for several years by Three Gorges, a Chinese state-owned company who are already a significant shareholder. Because of the Chinese state ownership the US government expressed concerns with the possible purchase by Three Gorges. The principal concern is the volatility of US electricity grids and security issues surrounding them. Other EU countries with EDP electricity generation assets are also concerned with grid security issues in the event of a takeover by Three Gorges.

In the midst of takeover buzz, EDPR suddenly sold off controlling interest in some of their North American generation assets to a Quebec-based company, Axium Infrastructure Inc. Eight days after the OEB blessed the EDPR licence application for Nation Rise, Axium issued a press release announcing they had closed an agreement to acquire an 80-percent interest in three wind power projects, totaling 499 MW in the U.S. and Canada from EDPR.

Nation Rise was one of those acquired.

A month and a half earlier, Axium was the lead investor in the purchase from U.S.-based Pattern Energy Group of a 90-MW minority interest in the 270 MW K2* wind generation project. The purchase price was CAD $216 million.

Following OEB’s approval of the EDPR Nation Rise generation licence, Axium Infrastructure submitted an application to the OEB dated January 14, 2019 seeking approval of their majority (80 percent) acquisition. The application form asks no questions about financing, nor does it ask questions about bankruptcy or criminal issues for either the company or individual officers, unlike the “generation licence” application format.

The application to the OEB indicated Axium held investments in seven of Ontario’s wind turbine developments and 19 solar projects. It also included the following: “After completion of the Proposed Transaction and the Project, Axium and its affiliates will have a generation capacity of 1,050 MW** on a gross basis and 563 MW on a net basis within the Province of Ontario.”

On February 28, 2019 Axium issued a further press release reporting they acquired a 50-percent interest in a 101-MW solar portfolio in Ontario from Mitsubishi Corporation.

In short, Axium has been very aggressive in acquiring Ontario’s foreign-owned wind and solar projects and Ontario’s regulator, the OEB, have blessed everything Axium has done.

That’s obvious if one reads the short letter dated February 14, 2019 from the OEB notifying  Axium about their Nation Rise acquisition: “the OEB does not intend to issue a notice of review of the proposal.”  Was this due diligence?

Tomorrow, in Part 2 of my look at the “Quebec Inc” acquisition spree, I will attempt to explore who is behind Axium Infrastructure, the interaction with the Ontario Energy Board and how the latter executes its Vision: “The OEB supports and guides the continuing evolution of the Ontario energy sector by promoting outcomes and innovation that deliver value for all Ontario energy consumers.”

PARKER GALLANT

 

*K2 was a Samsung project commissioned in September 2015 so has about 17 years left in its contract and if it operated at 30% of capacity would generate approximately $540 million in gross revenue over the remaining term of its contract for the 90 MW of capacity now owned by the Axium consortium.                                                                                                                                 **That amount of renewable generation would represent approximately 14% of all current operating renewable wind and solar in Ontario.

 

 

 

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

5 reasons not to believe wind power lobby spin-Part 2

CanWEA points to Denmark as a fine example of “affordable” wind power — great if you think 47 cents a kWh is affordable [Photo Pioneer Institute]
In Part 1 of this series, I dealt with two of the five claims CanWEA makes for industrial-scale wind power development in its October 11, 2018 blog post, “Five reasons why wind energy is Ontario’s best option for new electricity supply”.

Refuting those two claims for omission of facts was relatively easy.

Here are the details on the remaining three.

3. CanWEA claim: “Wind energy will be necessary if Ontario is to keep Ontario’s electricity supply reliable through the next decade.”

CanWEA says the IESO “forecast a need for significant new electricity generation, especially from 2023 onwards, as the Pickering Nuclear station shuts down, other nuclear units are being refurbished, and generation contracts expire.”   Well, that is true as IESO did suggest a shortfall, but here are the facts: the forecast shortfall is 1,400 MW. The OPG Lennox generation station with 2,100 MW has a contract expiring that year. So the question is, will the contract be extended? I was recently taken on a tour of the Lennox facility where I observed they were in the process of refurbishing one of the four 525-MW units which suggests they anticipate a renewal of the contract. With the anticipated renewal the “need for significant new electricity generation” is simply a figment of CanWEA’s imagination.

This claim goes on to suggest: “New wind energy would help keep Ontario’s electricity supply reliable, as well as more affordable.” And, “Other jurisdictions around the world are proving this – for example, Denmark now produces more than 44 per cent of its electricity from wind turbines on an annual basis.” The Denmark example ignores the cost of residential electricity on Danish households which is the highest in Europe. Denmark’s household electricity price is 312.60 Euro/MWh or $471.10 CAD/MWh, based on current exchange rates.

Is CanWEA suggesting is that if Ontario’s ratepayers were paying 47.1 cents/kWh it would be affordable? That seems like a big stretch and would push many more households into energy poverty!

The same applies to the claim of it being “reliable.” As noted in a June 2017 peer-reviewed report by Marc Brouillette, wind generation in Ontario presented itself when needed only 35% of the time. If one considers that wind’s annual generation averages about 30% of capacity, it is therefore “reliable” about 10.5% of the time it’s actually needed. (Note: IESO values wind generation at 12% in their forecasts)

4. This CanWEA claim suggests: “Wind energy provides many services to system operators to keep electricity supply flexible.” Their view of “flexible” fails to align with what the grid operator IESO would consider flexible. As Marc Brouillette’s report noted, “… wind output over any three-day period can vary between almost zero and 90 per cent of capacity.” That variance often requires clean hydro spillage or nuclear steam-off or the export of surplus capacity or full curtailment.

All of those actions cost ratepayers considerable money. Wind is unable to ramp up if demand increases and is the reason Ontario has over 10,000 MW of gas/oil plant capacity, with much of it idling in case the wind stops blowing or clouds prevent solar from generating. CanWEA needs to review the definition of “flexible.”

Another amusing statement under this claim is that: “Wind energy can also provide a suite of electricity grid services, often more nimbly and more cost effectively than conventional sources, helping to ensure reliable and flexible electricity supply. These services include: operating reserve, regulation, reactive support, voltage control, primary frequency response, load following, and inertia and fast frequency response.”   The bulk of those “suite of electricity grid services” are requirements for any generators on the grid. The ones suggesting operating reserve, reactive support, load following and fast frequency support are really referencing the curtailment of wind generation as noted in the preceding paragraph.

5. CanWEA’s final claim is:Wind energy is essential to reducing greenhouse gas emissions” and goes on to suggest: “Ontario has achieved a 90 per cent reduction in electricity sector greenhouse gas emissions over the past 15 years, and wind energy has been an important contributor. Wind turbines do not emit greenhouse gases, just as they do not pollute the air.” If CanWEA bothered to be truthful, the trade association would not claim “wind energy has been an important contributor” in reducing greenhouse gas emissions.   If you review year-end data as supplied by IESO for the year 2004 and compare it to the data for 2018, you are obliged to reach the conclusion that wind generation played absolutely no role in the “90% reduction in the electricity sector greenhouse gas emissions.”

Ontario demand in 2004 was 153.4 TWh (terawatt hours) and in 2018 was 137.4 TWh representing a drop in demand of 16 TWh. Nuclear generation in 2004 was 77 TWh and in 2018 was 90.1 TWh for an increase in generation of 13.1 TWh. The drop in demand of 16 TWh, plus the increased nuclear  generation of 13.1 TWh, equals 29.1 TWh. Those 29.1 TWh easily displaced the 2004 coal generation of 26.8 TWh!

Ontario didn’t need any wind turbines to achieve the 90 per cent reduction in emissions by closing the coal plants, and CanWEA was totally wrong to suggest wind generation played anything more than a very small role.

As the saying goes, “there are always two sides to every story” but if it doesn’t fit the message you wish to convey, you simply ignore the other side! CanWEA has done that consistently while ignoring the negative impacts of industrial wind turbines.

Here are just five:

1.Providing intermittent and unreliable generation,

2. Causing health problems due to audible and inaudible noise emissions,

3. Driving up electricity costs,

4. Killing birds and bats (all essential parts of the eco-system), and

5. Possible link to contamination of water wells.

I could list other negative impacts, but I would first invite CanWEA to attempt to dispel those five.

Needless to say, the anticipated response will be “crickets”!

PARKER GALLANT