$13 million wasted on windy last day of March: Ontario pays to get rid of excess power

These spring windy days are costing you: Ontario’s Wynne government  pays millions for power it can’t use including wind, produced exactly when we don’t need it.

More than $13 million wasted on windy last day of March

By Parker Gallant

March 2016 left like a lion with the wind roaring mightily. Wind on March 31st could have generated over 90% of its IESO posted capacity of almost 3,900 MW— but it didn’t.  Demand  was relatively low in Ontario that day, with users requiring only 359,000 MWh. That meant the IESO folks were busy getting nuclear to steam off (about 26,000 MWh), spilling hydro, and actively curtailing wind.

Curtailed wind generation on that day exceeded both Ontario’s net exports of 31,400 MWh, and wind-generated electricity actually delivered to the grid.   Our exported surplus was sold at a negative average price of the HOEP (hourly Ontario energy price) as we paid New York, Michigan, Quebec, and others $1.71/MWh to take our excess power.

We also paid wind power generators in the neighbourhood of $120 per MWh to curtail an estimated 40,500 MWh.

Our production costs for the month of March are collectively estimated at $117/MWh, suggesting the Global Adjustment (GA) will average about $112/MWh and the HOEP will average around $5/MWh. That means the cost of the day’s full generation of 400,224 MWh (Ontario Demand + exports) at an estimated $46.8 million. Included in that figure are costs for net exports,  steamed off nuclear, spilled hydro, curtailed wind, and idling gas plants, needed to back up wind and solar.

The one-day costs included in the $46.8 million are: an estimated $1.5 million for Bruce Power to steam off nuclear; $3 million to pay idling gas plants; $3.7 million to pay for our exported surplus; and about $4.8 million for curtailed wind.

Without including costs for spilled hydro, the total costs for energy not needed for just one day came to about $13 million.  We should be grateful the sun wasn’t shining too or we would have been paying for solar generation at even higher prices.  We also saved about $15/MWh or $600,000 March 31st by curtailing wind generation or the $13 million daily cost would have been higher.

Now, try to imagine how that $13 million might have helped out our health care system, perhaps by retaining nurses at many hospitals such as Windsor, North Bay, etc., where recent staff reductions have occurred. No wonder an Ontario Health Coalition study a year ago stated:  “we have been deeply disturbed at the devastating cuts we are seeing to needed public hospital care all across Ontario.”

The money that should be earmarked for health care is finding its way into the pockets of the mainly foreign wind turbine and solar panel developers instead of actually helping out Ontarians.

Time to scrap the acquisition of more intermittent wind and solar generation and earmark the money where it belongs. Ontarians don’t want to see $13 million wasted daily, just to pretend wind and solar are better than emission-free nuclear and hydro.

©Parker Gallant,

April 3, 2016

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Comments

Jim McPherson
Reply

Keep on exposing this foolishness, Parker. Surely one fine day, someone will pull the plug on Ontario’s silly “renewable” windpower.

Ron Higgins (Mayor North Frontenac)
Reply

Parker would you enough information to give me a year’s worth of information? I am putting together a white paper and would love to include a chart with a commentary.

Linda
Reply

As I’ve said before Parker, hydroelectric that uses headbands and reservoirs is not emission free. There are numerous studies reporting that reservoirs, both in tropical and temperate climates are responsible for approximately 4 to 7% of all sources of GHG emissions worldwide. These headbands change rivers from a GHG sink into a source of emissions. Most hydroelectric facilities are using reservoirs/headponds in order to store water for peak demand and peak pricing. Our report “Hydro Impacts 102: The Trade-offs” explain it all very well – here: http://www.ontarioriversalliance.ca/hydro-impacts-101-the-trade-offs/

Agneta Sand
Reply

Thank YOU. I wish more people, especially those who have some ‘power’ to do something about it, would read and try to understand this ! ! !

bfretts
Reply

Its a flabbergasting situation. I don’t suppose IESO/OEB could possibly foresee the surplus based on forecasted weather and instruct our damned ‘smart meters’ allow a few free- electricity hours in minor compensation for this disaster called Ontario? Or how about a hydro bill rebate/ credit if, with a a few hours notice, we customers could take a bit of the excess? Wouldn’t it be great to splurge and run the drier, or to run the dishwasher once again. We could call them Wynn hours. – I say take this $$ out of their sunshine bonuses and pensions. That kind of reverse incentive MIGHT get their attention.

Patricia Diaz
Reply

I guess Norway is wrong then. Uh???

Kevin
Reply

Why can’t we have someone fix this. So people can start living again and give money to pay there hydro bill. There got to be someone out there that can help.

Sommer
Reply

This curtailment might be causing an improvement in the noise levels from turbines. The infrasound radiation is still a problem. People are still reporting the horrible effects.
The ultimate solution to adverse health impacts and adverse property value losses for neighbours is to turn them off and keep them off.

Questionable Impact
Reply

Yes, electricity is generated at time of demand and if there is excess then it is wasted. By your own figures above, almost 7 times of nuclear power was wasted yet your headline is only on wind. That is extremely misleading. Perhaps you should write an article about power generation and the challenges it faces, and not be narrowly focused on one form.

Parker Gallant
Reply

Not sure where you picked up 7 times nuclear wasted. The figure was clearly stated as about 26,000 MWh of nuclear steamed off versus 40,500 MWh of curtailed wind. The headline talks about a “windy day” which we tend to have more of during the spring and fall seasons when demand is low. That means IWT generate electricity when it adds no value to our needs. At that time we often pay out of province parties to take it off our hands in order to ensure the grid doesn’t crash. When we really could use more generation during the hot summer days, wind generation is absent. This pattern is repeated around the world where IWT operate. Electricity generated by IWT is very old technology invented by Sir James Blyth of Scotland in 1886. It wasn’t seen as great then and still isn’t. It also has a habit of killing birds and bats and for a percentage of the population causes lots of negative health effects.

Questionable Impact
Reply

Sorry Parker, my bad as I was looking at the 3,900 MW capacity instead of 40,500 MWh generated (being lazy as it was in the same paragraph with nuclear generated). The point however remains, there was a significant amount of nuclear power also wasted along with any run of river hydro. This is a problem because electricity is time of use generation, with no storage capacity.

ALL forms of power generation have problems, you conveniently ignore the issues around nuclear and hydro. You are aware that fish are killed in hydro turbines all the time, they are essentially blenders that make fish tartar. Much more serious is the problems of upstream fish migration that has been cutoff by hydro dams; where birds can fly around windmills fish often are cut off entirely or mostly by hydro dams. Even in run of river dams there have been major issues that took decades to notice, and then try and build workaround solutions (e.g. the American eels at the Beauhanois dam near Montreal).

I agree that we need to address the challenges with wind power generation, but pretending that everything else is rosy is what I take exception with. Modern wind turbines are very far removed from anything Sir James Blyth built,. Yes the biggest challenge is the intermittent nature of wind power, that is why it can only be part of the solution needing complementary sources where the prime mover has some storage (e.g. burning fuel, hydro reservoir, etc.). This is however no silver bullet that provides the total solution.

Parker Gallant
Reply

Mr/Ms. Questionable Impact, In response to your comments:

“there was a significant amount of nuclear power also wasted along with any run of river hydro. This is a problem because electricity is time of use generation, with no storage capacity.”

The steaming off of nuclear on this day was caused because we had excess supply. Nuclear is considered baseload power as is wind & solar. The former because (except in respect to 2 Bruce units) they would have to be shut down and would take 2 days to ramp back up, The excess power we got March 31st came to a large extent from output from IWT and if they were absent that day nuclear would not have been steamed off. What that infers is they are not needed. There is no truly reliable storage with the exception of dams combined with other generation (intermittent or otherwise). Ontario’s geography for those purposes has pretty well been all used up. Batteries are simply not the solution!

“ALL forms of power generation have problems, you conveniently ignore the issues around nuclear and hydro. You are aware that fish are killed in hydro turbines all the time, they are essentially blenders that make fish tartar. Much more serious is the problems of upstream fish migration that has been cutoff by hydro dams; where birds can fly around windmills fish often are cut off entirely or mostly by hydro dams. Even in run of river dams there have been major issues that took decades to notice, and then try and build workaround solutions (e.g. the American eels at the Beauhanois dam near Montreal).”

Lots and lots about the hydro “issues” but nothing about nuclear ones. Yes, hydro does have issues but they are not as severe as wind turbines. Birds and bats don’t always fly around them hence the need for the IWT developers to get a permit to “kill, harm and harass” them. Wolfe Island has the 2nd highest kill rate in North America and they only search a small area around the turbine base and don’t count the ones eaten by scavengers. Putting up wind turbines will not save the fish!

“I agree that we need to address the challenges with wind power generation, but pretending that everything else is rosy is what I take exception with. Modern wind turbines are very far removed from anything Sir James Blyth built,.”

I never said “everything else is rosy” but I have said the OLP have made a mess of Ontario’s electricity system. I agree with you that the turbines erected today are very far removed from the late 1800 but that doesn’t mean they are better-they are simply bigger needing 400 tonnes of concrete to hold them in place and stand over 500 feet tall with a blade sweep of 2 acres and all to generate power ONLY when the wind is blowing. Would you buy a car or any machine if you were told it would only operate 30% of the time and not necessarily when you wanted it to work? I think not!

“Yes the biggest challenge is the intermittent nature of wind power, that is why it can only be part of the solution needing complementary sources where the prime mover has some storage (e.g. burning fuel, hydro reservoir, etc.). This is however no silver bullet that provides the total solution.”

Wind generation is only suitable in remote, non grid connected areas to supplement diesel generators until we have some useful cost competitive storage ability. Even than they should not be anywhere near migratory bird paths or human habitation unless they are of the small variety.

Questionable Impact

No need to be formal and use Mr. Impact, just call me Questionable 🙂

I agree on some days the base load is too high and some has to be wasted (steamed off, sold at a discount, etc.). That applies to ALL forms of base load generation. Provisioning power however is not for low use days, it is to meet peak demand days. It is imperative that we over provision because there will be failures that bring some sources offline, peak demand cannot be reliably predicted, and we must have new sources available prior to retiring old sources (e.g. when Pickering shuts down there will be a massive shortfall). These new sources are indeed needed, even if they are not ALWAYS used.

I didn’t want to get into a long post on the issues with all forms of power generation, but since you pointed out nuclear then I will mention a few. The two primary issues with nuclear are long term waste management, and consequences of failures. We have had commercial grade nuclear power generation for at least 40 years in this country, and research grade at least another 20 years, but have yet to properly address long term waste management. I am very familiar with the subject and would agree that political issues are large than the technical ones, but that doesn’t make them any less important. I am also very familiar with the differences between the installed CANDU systems and General Electric Mark 1 systems, but on the day before the tsunami nobody was demanding that Fukushima be closed. It is not the hindsight I have a problem with, it is the consequences of lack of foresight. Beyond that if you want to get into specific practical issues, here is one I suggest. You brought up the concrete associated with windmills, and I would agree that is an issue. Have you done a comparative study on the concrete associated with nuclear power (tons per MWh produced), including the useable lifespan of the concrete infrastructure (I expect a lot more refurbishment of windmill infrastructure is practical than nuclear).

Yes, wind turbines can only be used 20-30% of the time (location dependent). My car is used far less than that (in my case less than 1%), and when it is used there is expensive fossil fuel consumable where there is no consumable for wind. Your analogy is simplistic, perhaps purposely so. The last time I calculated the usage in Ontario, hydro came out at about 45%, and nuclear at about 80%, and natural gas was in the low 20’s.

I disagree that wind is only suitable for remote locations. in 2014 in Ontario there was a total of 6.8TWh of wind power generated which represented 4.4% of the total. Yes, some of that was surplus, but much of that was also useful. As you pointed out, our hydro resources are limited. No new nuclear stations have been built in decades, and it doesn’t look like any will be soon. A significant amount of nuclear will be retired in a few years. Where will the slack be picked up?

Parker Gallant
Reply

Hey Questionable: Check out the bad news about the last quarter of 2015. It’s not just one day!

Harry Keller
Reply

Nice to see someone exposing this sick government when it comes to energy..I can not help wonder where all this high overpricd help that is running hydro are..>Certainly they are asleep at the switch..

Sommer
Reply

It’s time for a serious examination of what the people who are being paid to manage these energy issues for Ontario are doing. How can we make this happen?
I’m impressed with the level of conversation in response to this article.
This is why I keep saying that we need a team of experts in the various fields to manage the energy portfolio.
In the next election, we need to insist on this change. The situation we’re in is so distressing.
Thanks to all who are spending their time exposing the mess we’re in.

Sonja in Alberta
Reply

Article never states how Alberta is affected by this, Just more money blown out Ontarios back door is what I read. Does not seem economically or environmentally friendly, as far as I can tell from this article.

Barbara
Reply

Sonja, nice to hear from an Albertan.

As far as I know, we don’t have Alberta contacts to know much about what your situation there is.

We get a few Alberta news articles but that’s about it.

Albertans are welcome to share information with Ontarians.

Janet Robertson
Reply

Why didn’t anyone figure this out BEFORE all the wind turbines were built?

the Bear
Reply

The only thing I see here is— support mental health, to think that some people actually believe,(including our great leader) that this is sound economics, is way out, anyone with basic education would know that wind and solar needs backup, that means Gas, that means a gas plant idled on windy days, that means someone has to pay for the plant– guess who?
I could go on but the tree huggers aren’t good listeners.

the Bear
Reply

The only thing here is—Support mental health, to think that some people believe, (including our great leader), that this is sound economics, is way out, anyone with a basic education would know that wind and solar need backup, that means gas that means a gas plant idled on windy days, that means the someone has to pay for the idled plant–guess who?
I could go on but the tree huggers, (mentioned above), are not good listeners

T
Reply

Thanks for posting this. The most encouraging Ontario Power information I have seen in months.
I did not know renewables were capable of powering the whole province on occasion. This is a fantastic opportunity. A great problem to have. Storage and moving to more flexible base load generators will allow us flexibility to shed load on the days when wind energy is bountiful. The potential for negative pricing is out there regularly even before wind and solar got connected. Hopefully at some point they will sell to consumers with compatible meters and contracts at the negative cost tariff.

Parker Gallant
Reply

You have got to be kidding! We will need a lot of batteries to store what is required to keep the lights on in the province particularly if we have a couple of cloudy days without any wind. Selling to consumers at negative prices is another laughable suggestion as the contracts are all fixed price ones whether you produce or curtail. Someone has to pay the bill for those contracts and that my friend is why rates continue to increase at above inflation rates. The OEB will shortly be telling us how much rates will increase starting May 1st–they won’t be announcing an decrease!

T
Reply

Negative pricing is certainly a topic at EUCI conferences *( at which I have been a speaker). If the dollars wasted are high as this indicates that even selling at discount could be a feasibility in some new contracts. Part of the problem is that Nuclear is not very flexible in shedding load when the base load changes .If we replace those aging plants hopefully it will be something “more nimble”As for battery storage, not saying it is here today .Hopefully Musk can get the price point down and an an embedded battery system will begin to morph. Cheers

Scott Luft
Reply

Spending with the hope Musk will do something wonderful to make it of value.
This is what you speak to conferences about?

June
Reply

Why are paying Michigan and Quebec and wherever else to take out excess away. They should be paying for to get our debt down. This whole hing is just foolish. If a private business was run this way….they would be out of business. No bank or other financial institution would ever touch them. Tired of all this..time to move to another province.

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