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The 4,000 MW Nanticoke coal plant was able to produce 21 million MWh annually,* had 600 employees and has now been replaced by a 44 MW solar array that might produce 58,000 MWh** annually.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 and reliability: 180 degrees apart

An article posted on my blog on February 17, 2019 was related to IESO’s release of grid-connected (TX) 2018 Electricity Data. It disclosed the cost of electricity for the average Class B ratepayer had fallen ever so slightly from 2017, reducing costs by about $5 annually.  The savings on the electricity portion of the average bill may have been eaten up by additional delivery and/or regulatory charges, so was probably not even noticed by most ratepayers.

As I noted then, what caused rates to drop was that we consumed more in 2018 than 2019, resulting in less wasted generation. In 2018, Ontario’s total demand was 137.4 TWh (terawatt hours) — up from 2017 when we consumed 130.3 TWh, for an increase of 7.1 TWh or 5.4%.  Nuclear and hydroelectric generation in 2018 generated 92.5% of total Ontario demand, not including spilled hydro or steamed-off nuclear which is paid for via the GA (Global Adjustment).

As an example of less wasted generation, OPG reported in 2018 that due to SBG (surplus baseload generation) they spilled 3.5 TWh, whereas in 2017 they spilled 5.9 TWh. That was 2.4 TWh less wasted hydroelectric generation we didn’t have to pay for!

Since IESO’s release of the grid-connected data, we are now able to see exactly where all Ontario generation came from, including both grid (TX) and distribution-connected (DX) due to the recent release of the OEB report “Ontario’s System-Wide Electricity Supply Mix: 2018 Data”. The OEB report indicates total Ontario generation of 154.4 TWh in 2018 up from 2017 when it was 150.75 TWh.

About the same time as the OEB released their report, the Ontario Energy Report was also released and it includes both TX and DX generation in detail. It also includes specific information on our exports and imports of electricity plus individual capacities of our generation sources.

Looking at some of the specifics causing our electricity rates to soar since the advent of the Green Energy Act (GEA) in 2009, it is relatively easy to see the principal causes. Wind and solar generation’s inability to deliver power when needed, despite its “baseload” designation, has factored in rising costs in two ways. The first is its detrimental effect on the HOEP and the second is its preponderance to create surplus generation that must be exported, curtailed, spilled or steamed off.

The HOEP in 2017 was the lowest ever, averaging 1.58 cents/kWh increasing to 2.43 cents/kWh in 2018. That means our exports of 18.591 TWh in 2018 generated revenue of approximately $451.8 million ($24.3 million per TWh) but cost ratepayers around $2.138 billion.

That means we lost almost $1.7 billion. The bulk of our exports (15.531 TWh) were sold to New York and Michigan so $1.4 billion of the $1.7 billion in ratepayer costs went to provide cheap power to those two US States.

The further driver to increased costs can be blamed on what we pay wind** and solar generators. For wind it averages $135/MWh and for solar $445/MWh. In 2018 TX plus DX wind generation was 12.3 TWh and curtailed wind was 1.9 TWh for which we pay $120/MWh. Total wind generation costs in 2018 therefore were about $1.888 billion. Solar generation in 2018 from DX and TX connected plants was 3.5 TWh and cost $1.55 billion bringing costs for the two intermittent sources of “baseload” generation to $3.438 billion or about 22 cents/kWh.

The combined cost of losses on exports plus the costs of wind and solar was $5.1 billion.   Is it any wonder our rates are so high?

Perhaps the time has come for all energy ministries to recognize wind and solar are not “baseload” power as defined due to their intermittent and unreliable nature.

Wind and solar power’s designation should logically be changed from “baseload” power to “abstract” or “symbolic” power! That change would better reflect their ability to deliver power when needed.

 

PARKER GALLANT

*Includes both the GA and the HOEP (hourly Ontario energy price).

**IESO suggests we can only count on wind to produce at a level of 13.6% of its capacity.  For solar it’s at about the same level suggesting solar is (in IESO’s view) actually more dependable!

Ontario Power Generation: where more means less

Back in late 2013, I noted that Ontario Power Generation or OPG had become the whipping boy for the Ministry of Energy. Now, it’s almost six years later, and not much has changed.  Just before my article appeared on Energy Probe, OPG had applied for a change to their “unregulated hydro”. They wanted it changed to “regulated hydro” which they got approved.  What that meant was they no longer would be dependent on receiving just the HOEP (Hourly Ontario Energy Price) market price for unregulated hydro.  The HOEP by then, had fallen due to the Liberal Government’s creation of the GEA (Green Energy Act) and the climb of the Global Adjustment which fell outside of the HOEP market price.

OPG recently released their 1st Quarter 2019 results. Both revenue and generation were up, marginally, by $19 million (1.3%) and .3 TWh (1.6%) respectively.  Nuclear generation was down, but regulated hydro was up with the latter increasing from 7.7 TWh to 8.2 TWh.

Those 8.2 TWh were produced by OPG’s 7475 MW of hydroelectric capacity in service. If one looks back to their 2008 1st Quarter* it indicated OPG had 3,332 MW of regulated hydro and 3,640 MW of unregulated hydro. In 2008 they generated 9.1 TWh; that means the 6,972 MW in service operated at 59.9% of their capacity and in the 2019 comparable quarter they operated at only 50% of their capacity.

In 2008 there was no spilling of hydro reported, but in 2019 they reportedly spilled 0.3 TWh. Producing less hydroelectric generation with a higher capacity seems strange. OPG spent $2.6 billion increasing capacity on the Mattagami River system and another $1.5 billion to increase generation capacity via “Big Becky” on the Niagara River system.  So, an additional 500 plus MW of clean hydroelectric capacity costing $4.1 billion was added but resulted in less generation (0.9 TWh less) than 2008.

Why?

The higher generation of hydroelectric power in 2008 had nothing to do with water levels as peak levels that year reached 75.3 metres versus 75.9 metres in 2019. In other words, there was no shortage of “fuel” for OPG’s hydroelectric plants in either 2008 or 2019.

What really happened was back in late 2008 former Premier McGuinty bragging about how the Melancthon EcoPower Centre (199.5 MW of wind capacity) had vaulted Ontario up to the point where it had 617.5 MW of wind capacity in operation. The following year Energy Minister George Smitherman rammed through the GEA (Green Energy and Green Economy Act) which led to the 2010 Long Term Energy Plan (LTEP), released by then Energy Minister, Brad Duguid. The LTEP sought 10,500 MW of renewable energy (7,500 MW of wind plus 2,500 MW of solar and the balance in biomass). The LTEP promised utopia with the creation of 50,000 permanent jobs. Duguid also promised us electricity rates would increase by 3.5% per annum and to help defray that increase they gave residential ratepayers a 10% reduction referenced as the OCEB (Ontario Clean Energy Benefit) which has since ended and was sort of replaced with the Fair Hydro Plan. We now know how those plans and events turned out!

As an example if one looks at the May “off-peak”** rate in 2008 and compare it to 2019 you would note it jumped from 2.7 cents/kWh to 6.5 cents/kWh which is a 140.7% increase and almost five times what Duguid told us rates would increase.

The advent of wind and solar contracts granted “first to the grid” rights at astronomical prices drove up the costs of electricity and their intermittent and unreliable nature required excess generation (generally gas plants) to sit at the ready for when the wind wasn’t blowing or the sun wasn’t shining. Those changes drove up the costs of electricity and coupled with the requirement to grant those “first to the grid” rights to wind generation meant hydro was, and still is, treated as “less qualified” renewable energy.

Ontario could have considerably more clean hydroelectric generation if we were devoid of expensive, above market wind and solar contracts! Instead, because of the lack of a cost benefit analysis by the previous government, Ontario’s ratepayers are stuck with expensive electricity until those contracts expire. At the same time, the taxpayer owned entity OPG suffers from revenue shortfalls for the $4.1 billion it spent to increase their hydro capacity, yet we ratepayers must still pick up the costs of that spending without any of the benefits.

The time has come to let OPG use their full hydroelectric capacity!

PARKER GALLANT

 

*The year before the GEA was passed and the recession occurred.

**Off-peak averages approximately 66% of most residential bills.

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

Do wind turbines contribute to flooding?

A look at how water flows are managed brings up a few questions …

[ Ashley Fraser/Postmedia]
The Government of Ontario recently announced their plans to initiate “an internal task force that will consult with our municipal partners and other stakeholders in impacted areas on ways to improve the province’s resilience to flooding.” The announcement occurred as many areas in Ontario experienced water levels approaching the 2017 levels. Since then water levels in Lake Ontario have surpassed those of 2017 as noted in the Democrat & Chronicle: “The water level in Lake Ontario hit a modern-day high on Friday, exceeding by a sliver the record set just two years ago.”

Flooding in Lake Ontario is not a new event as that story noted: it “has happened in seven spring-summer periods since 1918, when record-keeping began: 1993, 1974, 1973, 1952, 1951, 1947 and 1943. The lake’s waters rose very close to 248 feet* on four other occasions dating as far back as 1929.”

The parties involved in managing water levels are numerous and include the IJC (International Joint Commission) which controls the Moses-Saunders dam between Cornwall, Ontario and Massena, New York. That dam controls the water levels in the Great Lakes to try and prevent flooding along the St. Lawrence River.

As well, the Ottawa River Planning Board was established to ensure integrated management of the principal reservoirs of the Ottawa River Basin.  Members on this Board include representation from OPG and Hydro Quebec as well as Federal Government members.  Interestingly, IESO, who manage Ontario’s electricity grid, are not members; yet on a minute by minute basis, IESO determine the flows for generation and spillage of almost all hydro dams in Ontario.

As if all this wasn’t enough to create complexity in water management, back in December 2016 the IJC adopted “Plan 2014” aimed at increasing “wetlands” in the Great Lakes. It was endorsed by Prime Minister Trudeau and President Obama.  Its effect was aimed at raising lake levels to create wetlands after lobbying efforts by people who thought this was good for the environment.  The IJC said, the lake will often be a bit higher than it had been in the spring and fall, and roughly the same in summertime.

Now the IJC and all the other bodies involved in managing the water levels are blaming good old “Mother Nature” for the 2017 and 2019 events! The floods occurred despite the record snowfalls being reported by weather stations throughout the first three months of 2019. Record snowfalls generally signal major spring runoffs.

So, let’s look at 2019 and review the first three months of specific electricity generation in Ontario and compare it to the same three months in 2017 to see what might be different and determine if it raises a question—did wind power generation play a role in causing flooding in 2019?

If you look at the IESO’s “Generator Output by Fuel Type Monthly Report” for the first three months of 2017 you see grid-accepted wind power generation was 3,462.5 GWh (gigawatt hours); in 2019 it was 3,919.7 GWh or 12.9% higher.  Curtailed wind** on the other hand decreased from 635.7 GWh to 225.2 GWh which was a decrease of 410.5 GWh or 64.4%.   Coincidentally, that decrease was almost equal to the higher grid-accepted wind amount and also coincidentally quite close to the decrease in SBG (surplus baseload generation) spillage by hydro dams as noted below.

Looking at grid-accepted hydro for those three months, we note in 2017 it was 9,544.1 GWh and in 2019 was 9,787.5 GWh, an increase of only 243.4 GWh or 2.6%. Hydro spillage for SBG in 2019 was 0.3 TWh (terawatt hours) whereas in 2017 it was 0.8 TWh (also in 2018), a drop of 0.5 TWh or 64%.

So another question is: why was SBG spillage in the first three of 2019 about 500 GWh less, while Ontario’s demand during those same three months was up by 1,411.1 GWh?

One would expect when a major spring melt is anticipated, reducing water levels in reservoirs from mid-February into March would be the accepted practice in order to alleviate flooding later. The spring melt from tributaries deliver the melted snow to places like the Ottawa River basin where its funneled for run-off or held in those reservoirs.

For the 2019 flooding, the question becomes: did IESO favour industrial wind turbines (IWT) over either increased hydro generation or reduced spillage? OPG is paid for SBG spillage as are IWT developments for curtailed wind.  Paying for curtailed wind while allowing more hydro generation and/or spillage may well have resulted in less flood damage costs which in 2017 were estimated at $200 million!  This year’s cost could be higher.

One would hope the Ontario government’s “internal task force” investigates the above issues to more effectively understand all the reasons for the excess flooding and not simply blame “Mother Nature”!

PARKER GALLANT

*Refers to “above sea level”.

**Thanks to Scott Luft who tracks both grid-accepted and distributed curtailed wind.

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 you can’t believe the wind power lobby spin

Part 1 of an analysis of the lobbyist’s claims for low power prices and good times ahead

Since the new Government of Ontario announced it would repeal the Green Energy and Green Economy Act (GEA), the wind power trade association and lobbyist CanWEA, together with the Ontario NDP, Ontario Green Party and numerous environmental groups such as Environmental Defence, Greenpeace Canada, etc., have been throwing temper tantrums.

The consistent claim was “it will have a chilling effect on job creation and investors in the clean economy.” CanWEA have been one of the most outspoken complainers issuing several press releases  with spurious claims about wind power.

One blog post, on October 11, 2018, was the most blatant of the propaganda campaign.  It was titled “Five reasons why wind energy is Ontario’s best option for new electricity supply” and, then, in case you missed it, or to support a new PR onslaught in Ontario, it was reposted via their Facebook page March 31, 2019. The post references selected CanWEA and AWEA claims, including some prepared by others but paid for by CanWEA.

Let’s examine their claimed “five reasons” to choose wind power, starting with two

  1. CanWEA claim: “Wind energy is now the lowest-cost new electricity source” and note: “Alberta recently agreed to procure power from four wind generation projects at an average contract price of 3.7 cents per kilowatt hour – a price that is considerably below the cost of power generation in Ontario today.”

CanWEA fails to disclose that for each MWh of power, wind generators are given a REC (renewable energy certificate) which can be sold to anyone required to either reduce their emissions or purchase a carbon credit/REC. Valuations vary with demand but RECs generally have a value of $15/50 MWh or 1.5/5.0 cents/KWh. If the value of that REC was included in the CanWEA claim, they would have to say the “average contract price” was from 5.2 cents/kWh to 8.7 cents/kWh. Wind power generation in Alberta, as in Ontario, gets “first to the grid rights” meaning whatever is produced, no matter the need, must be accepted by the Alberta Electric System Operator/AESO.

If the wind power isn’t needed, AESO disperses other generation, which they presumably pay for, adding electricity generation costs to ratepayer bills. To make that clearer — In Alberta the AESO in a report notes wind generation negatively impacts pricing. A chart of wind’s capacity factor during “AIL (Alberta Internal Load) peak demand” (in the report) in 2017 shows wind reflected at 6% of its capacity!

That is a clear message that wind cannot be counted on to deliver power when needed.

Those same issues/problems are found in Ontario (wind rated at 12% of capacity) and most other regions around the world where industrial wind turbines represent a minor or major part of grid-connected capacity.

2.CanWEA claim: “Wind energy provides significant economic benefits” and states: “Ontario leads Canada in wind energy operations and wind energy supplies almost 8 per cent of the province’s electricity demand.”

One assumes the 8% refers to 2017, as 2018 results for Ontario were unknown at the time of the CanWEA post in October 2018. Total grid-connected generation, including gross exports in 2017, were 151.2 TWh. Wind accepted generation was 9.2 TWh which represents 6.1% of total demand.

If you include the 3.3 TWh of curtailed wind the wind power owners were paid for, the percentage rises to 8.1% .

That makes the delivered price for grid-accepted wind 17.8 cents/kWh.

And, that 17.8 cents/kWh doesn’t include the 6 TWh of spilled hydro or the 1 TWh of steamed-off nuclear, or the costs of idling gas plants (for when the wind doesn’t blow) which would add another $860 million more driving wind costs to ratepayers to over 27 cents/kWh.

CanWEA’s claim includes several other assertions.

Thousands of well paying, much-needed jobs in manufacturing, construction and local services” and provides a link to a report commissioned by CanWEA by Compass Renewable Energy Consulting Inc. In the Compass report, a chart indicates the economic benefits the 5,552 MW of industrial wind turbines in the province will create. Over the years (2006-2030) “Direct and Indirect Full Time Equivalents (FTEs) [of] 64,500”. They define FTEs as: “Full Time Equivalents refers to full time employment for one year. One FTE = 2,080 hours.” If one calculates the annual jobs the forecast of 64,500 FTE over 20 years (normal FIT contract terms) for 5,552 MW of wind power results in an average of 322.5 jobs annually. This is hardly something to be bragging about.

A stable source of income for landowners” which fails to mention the landowner is committed to a “non-disclosure agreement” meaning if adverse effects occur such as health problems experienced by the landowner families or animals, they can say nothing. Also, if the developer has incurred debt to erect the turbines, the lender will frequently register a lien on the property which may affect the ability of the landowner to borrow funds using the property as security. The landowner is also usually committed to extend the terms of the lease via the agreement for further periods of time in the event the developers contract may be extended.

Property tax revenue for municipalities” which is true, but … the revenue is nominal as the wind turbines are subject to industrial rates that have no connection to their capital costs (approximately $1.5 million per megawatt [MW]) whereas all other industry in a municipality, pay taxes on the full value of their invested capital. This means the decree by former Minister of Finance, Dwight Duncan to MPAC to assess IWT at only $40K per MW is still enforced with only minor adjustments.   The “tax revenue” to municipalities is often much less due to the declined values of households affected by the closeness of those turbines. It frequently causes a net tax loss to municipalities.

Funding for community-based initiatives” is something that was forced on wind developers as many communities wanted to fight back, but were thwarted in Ontario by the GEA. They tried using existing by-laws under their control but usually lost. In order for the developers to proceed with limited objection they proffered “community funding”! The funding was normally less than one half a percent (0.5%) of anticipated revenue so many municipalities accepted the tokenism.

New and sustainable revenue for Indigenous partners” which the Ontario Liberal Government built into the FIT program presumably to suggest support for First Nations by offering higher subsidies if some ownership was held by them. This allowed the developers to negotiate use of First Nations land for the erection of those IWT similar to the “Funding for community-based initiatives”.

Last, this assertion.

Ontario’s wind energy industry is at the heart of a growing wind turbine operations and maintenance business for Canada’s 6400+ wind turbines”. This claim came about because CanWEA established an     O & M (operations and maintenance)“ program to bring together stakeholders to address key challenges facing Canadian wind farm operators. Its key areas of focus are determined by program participants, and include benchmarking data, health and safety best practices, improved networking, and information sharing on critical issues like wildlife and the environment.” Why CanWEA brags about normal maintenance issues is beyond the pale, but claiming “improved networking and information sharing” should be read as their ability to lobby hard for the developers in respect to those “critical issues” that actually connect with the public like noise emissions and health problems, and the killing of birds and bats.

PARKER GALLANT

Soon: Part 2 in this series will deal with the remaining three claims made by CanWEA

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

 

Ontario Energy Board looked the other way on rising electricity bills

After seven years, the Ontario Energy Board has determined that a move by the McGuinty government to shift the burden of electricity costs to smaller ratepayers was “complicated and non-transparent.” What took them so long to find out that out, when it cost Ontario citizens billions?

Where your money went [Shutterstock photo]
Back in 2011, the Dalton McGuinty government introduced the Industrial Conservation Initiative (ICI) with the idea of changing the way Global Adjustment (GA) costs were allocated to different classes of consumers. “The stated purpose of the ICI is to provide large consumers with an incentive to reduce consumption at critical peak demand times. The resulting reductions in peak demand were expected to reduce the need to invest in new peaking generation and imports of electricity from coal-reliant jurisdictions.”

The government had been lobbied hard by the Association of Major Power Consumers of Ontario (AMPCO) who had been feeling the effects of climbing power rates brought on by the Green Energy Act (GEA) and the resulting FIT (feed-in-tariff) contracts for renewable energy (wind and solar).

Needless to say, the Liberal government caved, the ICI was born and officially started September 2011.

Just over a week ago the Ontario Energy Board released a report titled: The Industrial Conservation Initiative: Evaluating its Impact and Potential Alternative Approaches. What struck me immediately was this sentence in the Executive Summary: “In the Panel’s view, the ICI as presently structured is a complicated and non-transparent means of recovering costs, with limited efficiency benefits.”

It took the OEB seven years to come to this conclusion. And they are supposed to be the regulators for the energy sector. Their vision is: “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.”

So, it took seven years to determine the ICI wasn’t delivering value?

The ICI was created via a change in the Regulations* and was posted August 27, 2010 on the Environmental Registry with this statement:  “As a result of the consultation, there was general agreement that the proposed changes would result in a net benefit to electricity consumers, the electricity system and the broader Ontario economy.”

The new OEB report noted the Class B to Class A shift commencing in 2011 “has shifted nearly $5 billion in electricity costs from larger consumers to smaller ones. In 2017, the ICI shifted $1.2 billion in electricity costs to households and small businesses—nearly four times greater than the amount in 2011.”

Wondering what 2018 would bring in respect to the B to A shift and, knowing IESO now posts both consumption and costs of the GA by customer class on their website, it was worth an exercise to determine if the $1.2 billion shift of 2017 would increase or decrease.  Using IESO’s data it appears the subsidy for the first 11 months was about $35.4 million per TWh (terawatt hour).  Based on 36.9 TWh consumed by Class A ratepayers the cost shift is $1.306 billion.  The 4,665,000 residential ratepayers who use 9 MW of electricity annually will absorb approximately 30% of those costs — in other words, it represents an annual subsidy to Class A customers of almost $100 from each ratepayer.

Small and medium sized businesses will pay a lot more absorbing the remaining 70%, or about $900 million!

Now you know why the price of that hamburger and everything else went up!

Electricity price increases have hit all classes of ratepayers in the province and now that we see the shift of costs, it is helpful to look at the cause!

Renewable energy in the form of wind and solar** power generation has played a big part in rising electricity bills, so it is an interesting exercise to do a simple calculation to determine what wind generation and curtailment have cost in the first 11 months of 2018.   My friend, Scott Luft posts actual wind generation and curtailment for grid-connected (TX) and distributor-connected (DX)*** wind.  Calculating the TX, wind generated (9.655 TWh) and curtailed (1.940 TWh) for the 11 months indicates costs were $1.305 billion for grid-accepted generation and $230 million for curtailed (paid for but not used) wind.

That brings total costs of intermittent and unreliable wind to more than $1.5 billion. ****

What this simple exercise really does of course is demonstrate how our costs would be much less without intermittent wind power generation, which is produced out-of-phase with demand in Ontario. Considering first-to-the-grid rights for wind power operators means it also results in spillage or waste of hydro (5.9 TWh in 2017) and nuclear steam-off (1 TWh in 2017) and must be backed up with gas generation — all of which we pay for — wind power simply increases our electricity bills without any significant benefit to the environment or power system.

If solar costs were also included in these calculations, we would be in the $3 to 4 billion range.

Short story: Without all that waste, all classes of Ontario ratepayers would have reasonable and cost-competitive electricity rates.

Conclusion                                                                                                                                       The OEB should have stood up for consumers a lot sooner and called out the government for NOT delivering the “outcomes and innovation that deliver[d] value for all Ontario energy consumers.”  Instead, the OEB simply watched while billions of dollars were removed from ratepayers’ pockets for foreign-owned wind power developments and stood by for seven years while residential, small and medium sized businesses provided increasing subsidies to large industrial companies for a program “with limited efficiency benefits.”

PARKER GALLANT

* Class A was limited to very large consumers with an average monthly peak demand of more than 5 MW (primarily large industrial consumers). Since then, the government has expanded eligibility such that Class A now includes all consumers with an average monthly peak demand of more than 1 MW, as well as consumers in certain manufacturing, industrial and agricultural sectors with an average monthly peak demand of more than 0.5 MW.

**IESO do not disclose solar generation until early the following year                                                                                                                                                      ***Estimated for grid connected but generally very close to actual generation.

****Generated wind at $135/MWH and curtailed at $120/MWh.