Minister Chiarelli: words of wisdom [The musings of Bob Chiarelli]
Ummm…uhhhh…er… [The musings of Bob Chiarelli]
In the approximately one and a half years that Bob Chiarelli has been Energy Minister, he has made many observations about the electricity sector in Ontario. I thought it might be amusing to see a collection of them, altogether.

  • When Minster Chiarelli announced the end of the Ontario Clean Energy Benefit (January 1, 2015) he said: “The provincial government is trying to rejig hydro bills to ensure that customers aren’t hit with a sharp increase when the Ontario Clean Energy Benefit is phased out.”  And, “The plan was to also eliminate the debt retirement charge on hydro bills at the same time.”  The announcement of those simultaneous actions raised the average ratepayer bill by $100 annually but in Mr. Chiarelli’s wisdom that wasn’t a “sharp increase”!
  • Minister Chiarelli announced that “wind turbine developers” would be “paid to not produce power” and bragged it would save ratepayers $200 million annually!  He didn’t promise that rates would fall as a result of the savings, however, and he also failed to note that the money paid “to not produce power” would raise the per kWh cost of the actual power produced!
  • The Minister announced that the Samsung contract had been revised and would “save ratepayers money,”  $3.7 billion over the 20-year term.   Once again, no promise of rates falling, just that they wouldn’t increase as much as previously anticipated.
  • Minister Chiarelli told us that “over the next 20 years, rates would increase 3.4 % per year” (after the Samsung announcement) but this writer’s bill increased 9.1% in only one year, as have most ratepayers bills.  We are all looking forward to the 3.4% increase after 10 years of 10% increases.
  • Minister Chiarelli holds the record of the nine Liberal Ministers of Energy for issuing 22 “directives” to the OPA, surpassing Brad Duguid, the previous record holder at 19.  Apparently Liberal Energy Ministers know more than the “experts” running the electricity system!
  • The first directive issued by Minister Chiarelli on June 23, 2023 instructed the OPA to expand FIT and MicroFIT contracts; that was superseded by his most recent directive of August 29, 2014 telling them to scale back, even though they hadn’t achieved his original target.
  • Minister Chiarelli has been consistent in telling all Ontario ratepayers to “conserve” but he recently issued a new directive instructing the OPA to create a new program so large industrial companies would “consume more” at rates at a third of what the rest of us pay.
  • Minister Chiarelli referred to the cost of the gas plant move from Oakville as the “price of a Timmie’s coffee” and uses that analogy often when talking about increasing electricity rates.   Is this a new currency he plans on bringing in if he is appointed Finance Minister for the Province?
  • Minister Chiarelli in his “Minister’s Message” in his long-term energy plan, “Achieving Balance” says, “Ontario has adopted a policy of Conservation First,” and a chart in the plan “Forecast Energy Production (TWh) 2032” claims it will contribute 30 TWh of energy efficiency by then.   I presume he noticed that 30 TWh of nothing won’t toast your bread!
  • The same Minister’s Message also says, “We will work with our agencies and the province’s local distribution companies to ensure they operate more efficiently and produce savings that will benefit Ontario’s ratepayers.”  Meanwhile, the largest and most costly large distributor in the province, Hydro One (owned by the province)is being investigated by Ontario’s Ombudsman for a billing system causing havoc for its 1.1 million ratepayers.  Ironically, the recent budget from Minister of Finance, Charles Sousa, talks about maximizing profits from it to increase revenues to help reduce the budget deficit.  That puts Minister Chiarelli in conflict with Minister Sousa!  Wonder who will win?
  • Minister Chiarelli wants us all to conserve but his “Achieving Balance” plan comes up short as it will actually increase emissions according to the Power Workers Union and the Ontario Society of Professional Engineers.  The Power Workers,  “the plan is short-sighted in its thinking, will leave the province vulnerable to supply shortages and will reverse the decline in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions attributed to the successful restart of units 1 and 2 at Bruce Power by relying significantly more on natural gas generation when the Pickering Nuclear Station closes.”
  • Minister Chiarelli in an interview had this to say about engagement with municipalities:  “Our government wants to ensure that future renewable energy projects will be built in the right place at the right time.”  So, municipalities can have their “say,” they just can’t say “no.”
  • Minister Chiarelli in the same interview was asked a question about the possibility of a moratorium on wind projects until the federal health study was complete. He said, “Dr. Arlene King [former Chief Medical Officer of Health] undertook a review of the potential health effects of wind turbines. Her 2010 report stated that there is no scientific evidence to date to support claims that wind turbine noise cause adverse health effects.”   We know Dr. King’s report was nothing more than a “literature review,” is contentious and outdated, but our Energy Minister pretends it is the last word.

This is a quick review of Minister Chiarelli’s management of the Ontario electricity sector, highlighting his contradictory views, his conflicts, his approach to the addition of wind turbines to Ontario’s energy sector and  their mediocre potential to contribute to Ontario’s electricity needs.   A deeper review of Chiarelli’s performance and that of his predecessors would have turn up more results and more of egregious statements.

What stands out is that the Ontario Liberal government has contrived to make Ontario the most expensive market for electricity in North America, a major factor in Ontario’s mediocre economic performance.

©Parker Gallant

September 29, 2014

The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily represent Wind Concerns Ontario policy.

Plan for 65 turbines right through the heart of Lakeshore

Brian Cross The Windsor Star September 26 2014

A plan to erect as many as 65 giant wind turbines is generating fierce opposition, because the map for possible locations butts up to the urban and suburban areas of Belle River and Puce where most Lakeshore residents live.

“It is a huge concern of mine, it just spoils everything,” Jacques Goulet, a Puce resident who is running for deputy mayor in the Oct. 27 municipal election, and is vowing to oppose any turbines located near developed areas. He said he has nothing against putting these massive windmills on farmland in less-populated areas, but locating them near the growth areas in the northeast corner of the town will stifle future development and devalue the homes people have built in recent years.

“Every single homeowner I talk to can’t stand the things,” he said, claiming that almost every one of the approximately 300 people who attended an open house Tuesday — put on by the companies proposing the turbines — opposes them. Most of the land in the map is farmland between Highway 401 in the south to County Road 42 in the north. But the boundary also reaches further north in the Belle River and Puce areas, into subdivisions and along Notre Dame Street. Just east of Belle River, the boundary reaches right to the Lake St. Clair shoreline.

The area goes all the way west to Manning Road.

“It’s right through the heart of Lakeshore,” said Mayor Tom Bain, who said council has directed staff to see what powers the town may have to oppose the plan. Premier Kathleen Wynne has recently assured municipalities they’d have more power over approval of wind turbine projects, after earlier changes to the approval process that took those powers away, Bain said.

“We’re having staff get clarification,” about what powers council may have, he said.

There are already about 100 turbines in Lakeshore, but most are located in rural areas east of Belle River like Tilbury North and Tilbury West. And farmers have wanted them, because they provide income in the form of land leases. “I guess it’s worked out not too bad, but now they want to expand it,”  into the more populated areas of the town, Bain said.

“Many, many are opposed to it.”

The turbine plan has been in the works for several years under other firms, but this most recent one comes from  Samsung Renewable Energy and Pattern Development. Pattern’s project developer Jody Law said the companies heard at Tuesday’s meeting that people are opposed to the towers being located in urban areas.

“Where that boundary is is a broad preliminary study area, and that’s how it should be interpreted,” Law said. He said the study area has to be large because experts have to do various studies on such factors as wind patterns and  impact on wildlife that require a larger area. Most of the turbines will probably be located on farmland and there are rules that no tower can be within 550 metres of a residence, he said. As for the boundary that reaches up to the shoreline east of Belle River, he expects no towers will be erected there. “Probably not, because we know obviously its a very sensitive thing, and not just socially but biologically, as well,” he said.

Once field studies are completed, final reports will be written and submitted to the Ontario government, probably early next year, along with a specific layout of where the towers will be located. Then it takes considerable time to evaluate the documents and potentially approve the proposal. The firms’ schedule predicts a 2016 construction start with the towers operating by 2017.

Law said the firms have already approached landowners and a lot have signed on with the project. “And they’re excited,” he said.

But Joanne Marcoux, who lives along County Road 22 about five minutes from Belle River, is perturbed about the possibility a neighbouring farmer has agreed to host a tower near her home.

“That would depreciate my house, if I ever wanted to sell it, some people don’t want to live with something like that,” she said. “I just think they’re getting too close to town.”

Read the full story and comments here.

Conserving power in Ontario: who’s really saving?

Energy Minister Chiarelli: spending and saving
Energy Minister Chiarelli: spending and saving

Conservation is a MUSH[y] subject in Ontario

My recent article about “conservation” provided some detail on the presumed consumption of electricity in 2013 by the 4.6 million residential ratepayers in the province.  The estimate was that this rate class consumed 45.5 terawatts (TWh) or 32.3% of total Ontario demand, which IESO reported was 140.7 TWH.  While that is an estimate it at least can be compared to estimates from previous years as in the Yearbook of Electricity Distributors on the Ontario Energy Board’s (OEB) website back to 2005.   All the other data on the Yearbook site is grouped by “consumption” i.e., “General Service: 50 kWh to 4,999 kWh per month, Large: over 5,000 kWh per month”.  Presumably all the government entities from Ministries to Crown Corporations are included in those two groups, so comparing the success or failure of the public sector versus the private sector on “conservation” is impossible.

I set about trying to determine what each sector consumed recognizing the principal ones were:  large industrial clients (referred to as Class A ratepayers), small and mid-sized commercial enterprises (manufacturers, food processors, retail outlets, service companies, etc.), Municipalities, Universities (and colleges), Schools and Hospitals (referred to as the MUSH group), large government crown corps, (OPG, Hydro One, LCBO, OLG, IO, etc.), the Ministry of Justice (court houses, etc.), the OPP and the Ministry offices of Public Health, Transportation (GO Transit, Metrolinx, etc.),  Environment, Natural Resources, etc.

The objective was to determine how effective those groups have been at “conservation” compared to the 4.6 residential ratepayers, but finding information on them proved a hopeless endeavour.  The information  is scattered.  For example, a report in January 2008 prepared for IESO indicated  “Municipalities” consumed 6.6 TWh or 4.3% of Ontario’s consumption, but no other data is available to determine current or past consumption.  Likewise, data is missing for all of the other sectors except for the occasional snippet!  For example, a testimonial on OPA’s saveonenergy website claims Bradford High School reduced consumption by 84,000 kWh (19% of annual usage) through a lighting retrofit, meaning they consumed about 450 MWh.  If one extrapolates the Bradford example to the reported 913 secondary schools in Ontario this group consumed 4.1 TWh but again there is no way to measure that against prior consumption or to determine whether the estimate is even close to actual consumption.

No information on electricity usage in the 3,978 elementary schools could be found.   As for universities, a 17-page report entitled Ontario Universities: Going Greener Report 2011, authored by the Council of Ontario Universities, is a disgrace to higher learning and would be marked by every professor as a fail!  For example, contracting with Bullfrog Power by some universities is seen as a “conservation” initiative.

The search failed to turn up any meaningful data on electricity consumption by hospitals, the OPP, the Ministry of Justice or the big Crown Corporations.

Perhaps the OEB should enlist those “smart meters” and the “smart grid” to generate data that show the public how well government entities are doing on their “conservation” targets.

Reports a rehash

In desperation, I felt a read of the December 5, 2013 OEB’s Conservation and Demand Management Report-2012 Results might provide answers, but that turned out to be a rehash of CDM reports submitted by the 73 local distribution companies who either brag about exceeding conservation targets or make excuses for why they missed them.  It does have claims about Annual Savings such as 2012 “Net Peak Demand Savings” (KW) which totaled 253,086 KW.  It also has a section on “2012 CDM Spending” ($136,211,152) so you can determine the cost of saving a KW of capacity by category.

One example is the “Industrial Program” which produced Net Peak Demand Savings of 75,144 KW at a cost of $10,726,749.  Cost per peak KW saved was $142.75 ($10,726,749/75,144KW = $142.75).  To put that savings per KW in perspective, the U.S. EIA on a chart claims the full capital cost of a KW of on-shore wind capacity is $2,213/KW so the money spent per KW on the “Industrial Program” is equal to the wind turbine operating for 16 years reputedly providing a 16:1 payback.  If discounted for how many kWh wind produced at the wrong time of the day/year (80%) at 29% of capacity, however, that ratio would reduce to less than a 1:1 ratio.  Another example is the Business Program: spending was $89 million to save 98,217 KW of Net Peak Demand Savings at a cost of $907.43/KW.  This is a much higher cost to us ratepayers; it is equivalent to the full capital costs per KW to erect a combined cycle gas plant which would produce power for a minimum of two decades.  That ratio would prove to be about 1:1/20th or, for every dollar spent on conservation, the capital cost savings would be a nickel!

The worst example

The worst example however is related to the Home Assistance Program which cost $6,963.15/KW—more than it would cost to build a nuclear plant ($5,530/KW) that would operate for up to 60 years at an all-in annual cost of $93.28/KW, producing about 8,000 kWh (just over a penny per kWh) every year for those 60 years.

Didn’t Energy Minister Bob Chiarelli and others like Environmental Defence tell us “Conservation provides significant economic and environmental benefits; for every $1 invested in energy efficiency, Ontario has avoided about $2 in costs to the electricity system.”   If they were actually spending the money on “energy efficiency” instead of schemes that avoid a cost/benefit equation, I might be sold but they’re not. Instead the bureaucracy simply throws money at every hair-brained idea crossing their path.

Time for Minister Chiarelli to take a refresher math course and for the Auditor General to have a serious look at our “Conservation” spending, which is scheduled to cost us $483 million in 2014 alone, and has cost Ontario’s ratepayers in excess of $4 billion since 2004.

©Parker Gallant,

September 25, 2014

The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily represent Wind Concerns Ontario policy.


Ontario: insult to injury over the environment

The Ontario government published a news release today in which it claimed it is helping communities “restore” the environment, and also that complaints to its “Spills Line” are being responded to and resolved.

This is a cruel joke for those Ontario communities watching the destruction of the landscape, the altering of waterways and killing of wildlife for the sake of highly invasive wind power generation facilities. Ontario residents are told that if they have a concern about excessive noise they are to call the Ministry of the Environment Spills Line. Those who do, are less than satisfied with the response. The reports from the community on the noise from turbines is NOT included in the Ministry’s annual report on calls made to the Spills Line. There is no transparency or accountability—this has been made clear in various Environmental Review Tribunals, where Environment staff have actually testified that if the computer modelling supplied by the power developer says it “isn’t possible” for a turbine to make noise above a certain level, then they don’t even check the complaint.

Worse, the legislation has been written in such a way that noise complaints will never result in government action.

Here is the news release:

Helping Communities Restore and Protect the Environment

Ontario Supporting Community-based Environmental Projects

Ontario is using penalties collected from environmental violations to fund 12 community projects to restore and protect the environment.

Projects include restoring river banks by planting native trees and plants, protecting ecosystems from invasive species and undertaking environmental health assessments.

The Ontario Community Environment Fund supports environmental improvement projects in the watershed where a violation happened. Environmental penalties are issued to industries that have spilled a contaminant into the environment or that did not comply with regulatory requirements.

Protecting our watersheds is good for the environment and good for the economy and is a key part of the government’s economic plan to invest in people, create jobs, build modern infrastructure and support a dynamic and innovative business climate.

Quick Facts

  • Applications are now being accepted for the next round of Ontario Community Environment Fund grants. Applications for funding will be accepted until November 5, 2014.
  • In 2013, $113,781.20 was collected and added to the Ontario Community Environment Fund.
  • Eligible groups can apply for more than $161,208 available across 15 communities where penalties were collected.


Glen R. Murray

“The Ontario Community Environment Fund invests in communities. It builds capacity for our schools, municipalities, conservation authorities, First Nations and Métis communities to take action to improve the environment in areas where a spill or violation has happened.”

Glen R. Murray

Minister of the Environment and Climate Change

Contact the Ministry here.

Reports may be filed with the Ill Wind Reporting website here.

Road construction Manitoulin Island (courtesy Ray Beaudry)
Road construction Manitoulin Island (courtesy Ray Beaudry)

Clean air day for Ontario means cleaned out wallets for ratepayers

Ontario’s cleanest day: too bad it cost you

The heading on Cold Air energy blogger Scott Luft‘s article read:  “September 20th: Ontario electricity’s cleanest day in my lifetime.”   He was talking about the fact that emissions from the electricity sector in Ontario produced almost no emissions last Saturday.  Why? Low demand meant clean nuclear, clean hydro and clean wind produced more than enough power to satisfy the 13,593 MW average Ontario demand for electricity, as reported by IESO in their Daily Market Summary.

Here are the details: on September 20th, nuclear produced about 270,000 MWh, hydro 82,000 MWh and wind over 40,000 MWh.  Taken together, they produced about 81,000 excess MWh of power which Ontario simply exported.  Ontario was also busy steaming off Bruce nuclear power, and probably spilling hydro and paying those gas plants for sitting idle.   It’s obvious Ontario didn’t need that 40,000 MW of wind but with the “first to the grid” rights of wind and solar, IESO was obliged to accept it.

As it turned out the hourly Ontario electricity price or HOEP performed badly on September 20th and averaged .82 cents per MWh or .00082 cents per kWh.  So, Ontario’s ratepayers were paying wind generators $135.00 per MWh while IESO were busy selling it off to our neighbours in NY and Michigan for .82 cents meaning (without counting in the steamed-off Bruce nuclear, the gas plants $500 per MW of capacity for idling, non-utility generators or NUG-contracted utilities for curtailment, solar generators, etc.) we were losing $134.18 for every MWh of power that those wind turbines produced.

What that means to you is, the 81,000 MWh we sold to our neighbours cost each of Ontario’s 4.5 million ratepayers as our Energy Minister, Bob Chiarelli, might say, a large “Timmies” coffee and a donut!  Please don’t stop your conservation efforts, however, as the Ontario Liberal government would like us to do this more often!

Ontario: truly a great neighbour!

©Parker Gallant

September 23, 2014

The opinions expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily represent Wind Concerns Ontario policy.

Note: Neither Wind Concerns Ontario nor author Parker Gallant is opposed to conservation in power use—it would just be nice if Ontario had an electricity policy that made sense and provided affordable, reliable power for all.

Stay of wind farm construction hearing in London: people vs profits

Supporters gather at the London Court House yesterday
Supporters gather at the London Court House yesterday

The legal proceeding held September 22 in London, Ontario to hear arguments for and against a stay of construction for the K2 Wind and St. Columban wind projects ended in late afternoon.

According to documents filed earlier this month, the “Appellants seek a stay of theconstruction of the St. Columban Energy LP WindProject and the K2 Wind Project, pursuant to Rule 63.02 of the Rules of Civil Procedure, s. 106 of the Courts of Justice Act 2 and s. 24(1) of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms 3 restraining the Respondents St. Columban Energy LP (“St. Columban”), and K2 Wind Ontario Inc., K2 Wind Ontario Limited Partnership (“K2 Wind”) from all construction-related activities until the resolution of the appeals.”

The courtroom was packed with supporters and media.

Lawyer for the Drennan and Dixon families, human rights specialist Julian Falconer, laid out the arguments for the stay of construction, concluding that this was a situation of people vs. profits, where the big money interests of the wind developers had taken precedence over assurances that people’s health and other rights would not be affected.

The hearing adjourned at approximately 5 p.m.; the judge promised she would do her best to render a decision on the matter quickly.

The appeal hearings begin in November.

For more information on the legal action, and for a link to donate toward covering legal fees, please go to the website for Safe Wind Energy for Everyone (SWEAR).

Wind farm turbines take toll on birds of prey: Australia

EAGLES, falcons and other raptors make up to a third of the estimated 1500 birds killed each year at Australia’s biggest wind farm.

Graham Lloyd, Environment Editor, The Australian, September 22, 2014

The finding of an independent report for Macarthur Wind Farm operator AGL follows 12 monthly searches of 48 turbines at the 140-turbine operation in Victoria that found 576 bird carcasses.

After adjusting for birds eaten by scavengers between searches and the total 140 turbines, Australian Ecological Research Services estimated each turbine killed about 10 birds a year.

The analysis said this would include 500 raptors a year.

AGL has confirmed that 64 bird fatalities were found during the official searches and an ­additional 10 carcasses were found near turbines by maintenance personnel, landowners or ecologists when not undertaking scheduled carcass searches.

The total included eight brown falcons, seven nankeen kestrels, six wedge-tailed eagles, one black falcon, two black-shouldered kites and one spotted harrier.

But an AGL spokesman said the report had “shown no significant impact on threatened ­species”. The company said overall ­estimates of bird and bat mortality “are subject to several sources of bias which may result in inaccurate estimates”.

The report recommended more frequent searches of a smaller number of turbines to get a more accurate assessment.

Australian Ecological Research Services said there were several reasons for the high percentage of raptors killed. They were at higher risk of collision with turbine blades possibly due to a combination of factors such as the altitude they mostly fly at, the proportion of time spent flying and flying ­behaviour.

“Raptors tend to glide slowly and are constantly looking downward for potential prey, rather than flying in a single ­direction and looking where they are heading,” the report said. “This may increase their risk of flying through the rotor-swept area of turbines.

“Other studies have also suggested that raptors are more ­likely to collide with turbine blades than many other avian species due to their morphology and foraging behaviour.”

Anti-windfarm campaigner Hamish Cumming said: “If someone shot this many birds they’d be fined and jailed and there would be public outrage.

“But, somehow, we’re expected to just accept it if they are killed by a wind farm.

“And before anyone rolls out the tired old mantra of ‘statistics show more birds get killed flying into suburban windows’, just tell me when was the last time a wedge-tailed eagle flew into your lounge room window?”

Parker Gallant on Energy conservation experiments in Ontario: in your wallet and in your personal life

Here's looking at you (and your power bill), kid
Here’s looking at you (and your power bill), kid

If 90.2% of your customers were purchasing only 32.3% of your product, your marketing department would be working overtime to come up with ways to entice those customers to purchase more, right?

If you are a monopoly operating in the electricity sector in the Province of Ontario you wouldn’t do that, because your boss doesn’t want that to happen.  Instead, he’s telling you to get customers to buy less.

The 2013 Yearbook of Electricity Distributors has data that allows you to calculate total consumption of the residential sector using the “standards” applied by the Ontario Energy Board on usage by the 4,460,593 residential customers.  They represent 90.2% of the 2013 total customers of all local distribution companies (LDC) in the province.

The standards that the OEB use for Hydro One is 1,000 kilowatts (kWh) per month and 800 kWh/month for all the other LDCs, when they apply for a rate increase.  Using that “standard” and applying it to the breakdown of the residential customers it is easy to determine that consumption was about 45.5 terawatts (TWh) in 2013.  Accept that total Ontario consumption was 140.7 TWh as reported by the IESO (Independent Electricity System Operator) in their January 8, 2014 press release, then 45.5 TWh represents 32.3% of total Ontario consumption.

Looking at the Yearbook from 2005, it’s obvious that the average monthly consumption by all customers dropped 11.2% in eight years—that’s just shy of 5 million megawatt hours (MWh) or, using the 800 kWh OEB standard, enough to power 517,000 “average” homes.

Energy Minister, Bob Chiarelli, however, wants more: his message from Conservation First: A Renewed Vision for Energy Conservation in Ontario said: “The government is committed to expanding and enhancing our conservation efforts. With the current Conservation and Demand Management Framework set to wind down at the end of 2014, the time is right to create a new framework and set a policy of putting conservation first. Ontario’s vision is to invest in conservation first, before new generation, where cost-effective.”

And, “Saving energy means saving money – for families, businesses, hospitals, schools and other public institutions.”

The problem with Minister Chiarelli’s premise is that for families to save money they would need to reduce consumption by more than the price increases per kWh that we have seen and will continue to see, due to the renewable energy agenda and the Green Energy Act.   For example, in 2005 the all-in cost for power and distribution, including the debt retirement and regulatory charge, for Hydro One was 10.5 cents/kWh; for 2013 the all-in cost together with the HST was 19.9 cents/kWh. That’s an increase of almost 90% in eight years.   If families decreased their average consumption by less than 11% annually they are paying more.  And, the 1,000 kWh/month standard used by the OEB would need to have been reduced to 527 kWh/month in order to be paying the same monthly bill to Hydro One in 2013 as was paid in 2005.  So in Ontario “saving energy” doesn’t mean you will actually “save money” unless you move to a cave or disconnect from the grid!

What’s interesting is that the schemes concocted by our government to get us to conserve are often weird and include social engineering strategies (any act that influences a person to take an action that may or may not be in their best interest). The three LDCs call it “social benchmarking”!

Horizon Utilities says, “The Program seeks to empower customers to drive energy conservation utilizing behavioural science, gaming mechanics, and rewards, including AIR MILES for Social Change.”  Hydro one has this idea:  “These reports will include a normative comparison that compares that customer to efficient neighbours and other neighbours.” And the third LDC, Milton Hydro, says this:  “[We] will deliver a social benchmarking program to residential customers in Milton, Ont., beginning later this July. Funded by the Ontario Power Authority’s Conservation Fund, the Milton Community Energy Challenge will demonstrate how a community engagement program can deliver behaviour-based energy conservation. Customers who choose to participate will earn rewards for reducing their household energy use. They will also be able to help local schools win up to $10,000 in awards by joining a school challenge team.”

Wow, Air Miles, other rewards and $10,000 for schools because their students will be taught to “shame” their parents for using electricity.  Ordinary residential ratepayers are financing these “social engineering” schemes in the pilot projects via their monthly electricity bills.  The cost of the pilots is not disclosed but comes from the Ontario Power Authority’s “Conservation Fund” which is charged to ratepayers via the electricity time-of-use billings.  The 2012 Conservation and Demand Management Reports for 2012 filed with the OEB for these three utilities carried no information on the success or failure of the initiatives. Toronto Hydro engaged in a nine-month program in 2011, estimated to cost $495,000.

Privacy was on the agenda at the OEB’s Smart Grid Advisory Committee meeting July 16, 2013, which is the other alarming issue associated with these pilots. Has the Privacy Commissioner blessed this social benchmarking concept that will place your neighbour’s power use data in your hands?

Just another example of “transparency” in the Kathleen Wynne government.

©Parker Gallant,

September 21, 2014


PS:  Stay tuned for more on the “conservation” vision.


The views expressed are those of the author.


September 20th: cleanest air day in Ontario

We don’t usually re-post from blogs, but then there is Scott Luft. Here is his recent posting on emissions in Ontario, and what the situation was last Saturday. Ironically, that was the same day thousands of well-meaning Canadians took to the streets to demand lower emissions and a cleaner environment.

September 20th: Ontario electricity’s cleanest day in my lifetime

Today is The People’s Climate March day. Not being much for marching up and down the square, I thought I’d be better to write about the accomplishments and challenges in my province of Ontario, where this weekend may well be experiencing the lowest emissions from electricity generation in over half a century.

It’s certainly the lowest emissions since I started capturing hourly data, which I have from September 1st, 2010. The reason is the scheduling off of non-utility generators, many of which are fueled by natural gas. Prior to yesterday the lowest value I’d seen for generation fueled by natural-gas was 291 megawatts; yesterday it dropped below that level in hour 3 and just rose above it as I write this (hour 8 of the 21st). I’m not certain the now closed Hearn and Lakeview generating stations would have operated at less than 200MW combined, so this really might be as low emission a day as Ontario saw in the past half a century.

The system operator (IESO) schedules curtailments of non-utility generators when Ontario is expected to have surplus supply for an extended period of time [2]. That is the case this weekend. Yesterday the IESO also required the curtailment of supply from Bruce Power’s nuclear units after exporting as much as possible. [2]

My estimates of the supply Ontario ratepayers will pay for – including the curtailed supply

September 20, 2014, Ontario was a net exporter of more electricity than it has been since the market opened on May 1st, 2002.  The average price was approximately nil. On average, net exports were 3,265 MW – much of it to New York where many of today’s marchers oppose the nuclear source that usually powers their sockets without ever cluttering their air.

The combination of high exports at no price, and curtailed supply, prompted my sometimes collaborator Parker Gallant to e-mail me; “it would be fun to calculate what the cost of generating Ontario “demand” is costing per kWh at this moment.”

There’s lots of problems in accomplishing that, but “fools rush in where angels fear to tread” – and it is fun to utilize this data store I’ve built.
So, for Parker and myself, I’ve done it.

I also summarized hourly data by weekday and month, right back to September 2010.

First, to yesterday. My estimations here assume:

  • capacity payments (net revenue requirement and contingency payments) are distributed evenly to each hour throughout the year)
  • solar output and pricing as described in Estimating production from Ontario’s solar panels [3]
  • I haven’t changed my algorithm for estimated non-utility generator (NUG) curtailment, but I have used costs for curtailed estimated of $110/MWh for wind, $100 for NUGs and $60 for nuclear steam bypass

Read more here.

How to spend $4.7 billion ratepayer dollars

$4.7 billion? I'll read it later--the Sens are playing
$4.7 billion? I’ll read it later–the Sens are playing

A Liberal cost/benefit plan or, how to “plan” to spend $4.7 billion ratepayer dollars

Give Energy Minister, Bob Chiarelli a nice pie (chart) and he will be happy.  He gave his blessing to the proposed OPA Business Plan to spend $4.2 billion ratepayer dollars—all nicely pictured in a pie chart that doesn’t include spending $483 million on “conservation” initiatives.

The plan was submitted Friday January 24, 2014 and was approved by Chiarelli on Tuesday, January 29, 2012.  Guess he worked over the weekend studying the chart?  Figure 2 (the chart) in the Plan provides a breakdown of planned 2014 electricity spending on those “generation charges of $4,242 million” plus another chart laying out the $483 million to be spent on conservation.

OPA Business Plan Figure 2.
OPA Business Plan Figure 2.


Green is for clean-23% ($975.6 million);  Blue is for Renewable-32% ($1,357.4 million) and puce is for nuclear-45% (1,909 million)!  The Chart as noted represents $4,242 million ratepayer dollars to be spent in 2014.

The chart from the 2014−2016 OPA Business Plan was filed with the OEB, as file number EB-2013-0326.  The OPA’s budget for their operational expenditures ($60.3 million) was also included in the submission and approved by the OEB December 19, 2013.  The 40-page submission uses buzz words rather than actual economic analysis or a cost-benefit study.  For example, you will find “partner” or  partnership and partners 57 times, “initiatives” 55 times, “ensure” 22 times, “cost-effective” 20 times,  “communication” 24 times, and “solution” 21 times.

The last of 12 listed as “most significant initiatives” is this:  “continuing efforts to further reduce expenses and the cost impact of operations on electricity consumers.”  So “cost impact” on electricity consumers is at the bottom of the heap. Not likely to change with the Liberal majority government.

You also find the OPA’s “Vision” statement in the Plan which is:  “Leading Ontario in the development of North America’s most reliable, cost-effective and sustainable electricity system.”   The vision is certainly leading Ontario, but in the direction of being the most expensive electricity system in North America.  We just need to pass California and New York City and we will have achieved the goal!

The Business Plan also says the OPA will challenge us residential ratepayers to increase our conservation.  How, you ask?   The Plan suggests the OPA will do this: “Two other initiatives of strategic value are a pay-for-performance conservation model and a social benchmarking pilot. This pilot aims to cost-effectively reduce residential electricity consumption by providing residents with information-based tools that allow the comparison of one home’s energy performance to that of another home or group of homes. Results from the social benchmarking pilot will be analyzed and used for recommending next steps on developing such a program across the province.”

What? They are now going to shame Ontario electricity customers by applying the “trained seal” approach and presumably award “pay-for-performance” to those who train us?  Set communities against one another?

This is some “business plan.”

The OPA commits to spending $4.7 billion ratepayer dollars and gets the blessing of the Minister without a single question!   Life is good when Chiarelli is your boss and there are 4.5 million ratepayers to pick up the tab.

©Parker Gallant

September 18, 2014


Views expressed are those of the author.