Ontario electricity costs 4 times inflation under Liberal rule

“Provincial benefit”: is this another one of Premier Wynne’s “stretch goals”?

Parker Gallant maps power price increases under the Ontario Liberal government

Back in February 2011, IESO announced in their publication the Electricity Insider that a line item on some electricity bills would be changed.  The message was: “For all consumers that pay for electricity on market prices or who have signed a retail contract, the line item Provincial Benefit on your electricity bill will be renamed Global Adjustment starting in 2011.” 

 For those who relied on their local distribution company to bill them, the term “Provincial Benefit” or “Global Adjustment” never appeared on their bill. It was hidden in the “electricity” line! 

Presumably as a result of the change someone at IESO went back to 2007 and changed all the monthly summary reports to read Global Adjustment rather than “Provincial Benefit”. Since then the term Global Adjustment has gained a certain infamy, commencing with the 2011 Auditor General’s report, the December 9, 2014 report and again in the December 2, 2015 report.

In 2007, the first year the GA term first appears in IESO’s annual consumption reports, one notes Ontario’s consumption was 152 terawatts (TWh). The GA was $3.95 per MWh and the HOEP (Hourly Ontario Energy Price) or market price was $50.51 bringing the average cost for the raw commodity; electricity, to $54.46/MWh or 5.4 cents per kilowatt hour (kWh) for the year.  That means the cost of the raw electricity consumed was about  (152 TWh X $54,460,000/TWh = $8.27 billion) $8.3 billion.  Another $300 million was required to cover the cost of 5.1 TWh of imports and  12.3 TWh of exports (5.1 TWh X $50.51 million/TWh + 12.3 TWh X $3.95million/TWh = $$306 million) making the all-in costs of the commodity $8.6 billion.

Electricity used to be cheap

What that means is, even though the Liberal government had been in power for four years, the price of generating electricity was relatively cheap, increasing at a rate of about 3% annually from $47.82/MWh in 2003 to $54.46/MWh in 2007. While the increase came in higher than inflation, ratepayers were told repairing the system because of its reputed neglect under the previous government was the reason.

Fast forward to 2015 and see what the next eight years under the Liberal government brought ratepayers for the raw commodity’s cost, in comparison to the first four years.

Read more

Amherst Island appeal resumes

Amherst Island is a favoured spot for owls, and other birds
Amherst Island is a favoured spot for owls, and other birds

Community alleges wind power project will harm environment and wildlife, and impact residents’ health

Kingston Whig-Standard, January 25, 2016

by Elliot Ferguson

STELLA — After more than a month-long hiatus, the Environmental Review Tribunal’s hearing into the Amherst Island wind energy project resumed Monday.

The tribunal began three days of hearings in Stella this week and included a tour of 16 points around the island.

Read the story here

Wind power projects should be put to community vote: U Ottawa researcher

Dismissing concerns of communities not helpful, says research team. Sensitive landscapes need protection

Community protest at Dutton Dunwich.
Community protest at Dutton Dunwich.

Globe and Mail, January 25, 2016

Renewable energy developers – and those who regulate them – need to be more sensitive to the concerns of residents who are going to have massive wind turbines built near them, a group of Canadian academics says.

In a paper published Monday in the journal Nature Energy, the eight authors – six of whom are university professors or researchers – analyze why there is so much debate over the placement of wind turbines in Ontario.

Ontario has the greatest number of wind turbines of any province, and their construction has created considerable conflict between developers and those opposed to the installation of large industrial machinery in rural environments. Often these fights end up pitting neighbours against neighbours, and they can become big political battles at the municipal level.

Ontario has altered its rules since it first encouraged wind farms in its Green Energy Act in 2009, said Stewart Fast, a senior research associate at the University of Ottawa and one of the paper’s authors. But even though the new rules encourage more input from local governments and residents near proposed turbines, these changes haven’t been enough to stop the disputes, he said. …

Read the story here.

“The idea of some sort of community referendum on whether or not the municipality should support a project is probably a good thing.” –Stewart Fast, University of Ottawa

Turbine neighbours in Wisconsin: noise means “life of agony”

 

fdlreporter January 24, 2016

Group says wind farm causing health issues

Photo by betterplan.squarespace
Photo by betterplan.squarespace

Joan Lagerman likens the sound to “shoes in a clothes dryer,” or “someone shutting a dumpster lid over and over.”

The Malone woman is among a group of residents who are suffering from a variety of ailments they believe are caused from living in the shadow of wind turbines.

On certain days, when the blades are coated in ice, the noise is so bad it shakes the walls of her home.

Calling themselves Concerned Citizens of Fond du Lac County, the group plans to attend the next meeting of the Fond du Lac County Health Department at 6:30 p.m. on Feb. 2 to voice health concerns they say are caused by the whirl of the seven-ton blades.

Their main goal is to shut down the turbines at night so residents can get some sleep.

Blue Sky Green Field is a WE Energies, 88-turbine wind farm set on 10,600 acres, spread between the townships of Calumet and Marshfield in Fond du Lac County, not far from the east shore of Lake Winnebago. Lagerman and her neighbors are surrounded by the 44 towering turbines spinning in Marshfield.

The wind farm generates energy for the southeastern Wisconsin power grid, producing enough for service to 35,000 homes, according to WE Energies.

Choking back tears, Lagerman, 55, said Thursday she can’t take it anymore – the constant headaches, insomnia, hypertension and anxiety that came on after the wind farm was erected in 2008.

“Doctors can’t find what is causing my health problems, but I can tell you …

Read the full article here

Good money after bad: mismanagement of Ontario’s power system

Environment Minister Murray will say, it's all for the environment! Problem: wind power does nothing for the environment.
Environment Minister Murray will say, it’s all for the environment! Problem: wind power does nothing for the environment.

January 23, 2016

This “Op-Ed” appears in the current edition of Ontario Farmer. It is not available online.

Good money after bad: how mismanagement of Ontario’s power system affects you

By Parker Gallant

It’s been several months now since the Auditor General of Ontario released her 2015 report, in which she levelled scathing criticism of how the Ontario government has mismanaged the electricity sector. In what will be her last report to include the management of Hydro One because the government has partially privatized the electricity distributor, Auditor General Bonnie Lysyk condemned the planning and policy implementation processes that have resulted in Ontario’s electricity consumers paying too much for power.

The report made specific mention of the fact that Ontario has a surplus of power, a situation that is likely to continue, if the government continues to give out expensive contracts for “renewable” power sources wind and solar, which provide only a small amount of Ontario’s power and then only intermittently.

The Auditor General said, “The Ministry’s attractive guaranteed prices program has been one of the main contributors to the surplus power situation Ontario has faced since 2009, in that it has procured too many renewable projects, too quickly, and at too high a cost.” The Auditor General’s office also found that Ontario paid “double the current average cost” in North America for wind power.

Her estimate was that Ontario’s electricity customers paid out $9.2 billion just for wind and solar contracts. Worst of all, perhaps, is the fact that Ontario is paying top dollar for renewables –and then selling the power at bargain bin prices—because of the power surplus.

Readers may recall that in most parts of Ontario, we had a very windy Christmas Eve. That breezy situation cost us plenty; because we are forced to buy wind power even when we don’t need it, wind power makes up a substantial portion of the surplus power we sell off. On Christmas Eve, that was about $9.4 million, which is not counting what we paid Bruce Nuclear to “steam off” power, or what we paid some wind power producers to limit or “curtail” power production.

What would your local hospital have done with even a small part of that $9.4 million?

What could Ontario have done with the $339 million the Auditor General says we paid for curtailing surplus electricity between 2009 and 2014?

What would you have done with the $360 extra you paid last year (assuming you use only 800 KwH per month of power)?

Read the full article here. Good money after bad-January7

Parker Gallant is a former vice-president with TD Bank. He resides in Prince Edward County, and is vice-president of Wind Concerns Ontario.

 

Wynne government minister not completely honest in mandate letter responses: Parker Gallant

Take another look at your energy minister's claims to have fulfilled his mandate, Parker Gallant tells Premier Wynne
Take another look at your energy minister’s claims to have fulfilled his mandate, Parker Gallant tells Premier Wynne

What follows is an excerpt of a letter sent by Parker Gallant to Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne. We present this because of the role of wind power generation in causing Ontario’s electricity bills to rise, causing increasing hardship for Ontario’s citizens and business.

January 11, 2016

The Honourable Premier Kathleen Wynne, Queen’s Park, Toronto Ontario

Dear Premier Wynne,

I noticed your government’s press release of January 11, 2016 dealing with the “Ministers Report on How They Are Delivering on Mandate Letter Priorities”.

In particular I noted your objective to bring “Ontario closer to its goal of becoming the most open and transparent government in Canada” and felt that someone should alert you that not all of your Ministers are being completely honest with you in their reports.

I have only looked at the Energy Minister’s response but if it is indicative of some of the other reports, perhaps it is time to admonish them. They may not be doing what you told them. I will below highlight a couple of your Energy Minister’s responses to demonstrate.

Mandate: Mitigating Electricity Prices for Residential Customers

Your instruction of September 25, 2014 was: “You will continue to look for savings and efficiencies that will help keep electricity costs affordable for residential consumers.” His response was: “For a typical Ontario residential consumer, current electricity prices are below those forecast in the LTEP.”

My comment: That forecast was his and it must have been particularly bad (I think Bob has trouble with math). The reason I say that is because just 13 months (November 1, 2015) after you instructed him, the cost of the basic commodity (electricity) had increased 15.7%. He also announced late last year that he was dropping the “Ontario Clean Energy Benefit” (OCEB) which bumped the increase to 25.7% effective January 1, 2016 (just days ago). So, less than 16 months after you gave him his mandate he has caused rates to rise by that much!

Minister Chiarelli went on to note: “Beginning January 1, 2016, the Ontario Electricity Support Program is providing ongoing assistance directly on the bills of eligible low-income electricity consumers.”

My comment: he has taken action on this one by announcing a complex program for people living in what is commonly called “energy poverty.” But he has changed the rules for the agencies handling those families and individuals placed in a “heat or eat” situation and made access extremely difficult. Prior to Bob’s creation of the OESP, local social agencies like United Way, etc., dealt effectively with those families who had been threatened with electricity service cut-off. Bob changed the rules, taking away responsibilities from the Minister of Community & Social Services where the support program should rightly be!

He can’t claim he is “Mitigating Electricity Prices for Residential Customers” when he is increasing the price of electricity driving more and more people into “energy poverty”. I would bet he didn’t tell you that the Ontario Energy Board in a report released early last year indicated Ontario had 570,000 households living in “energy poverty”! That is about 12% of all Ontario households.

Another one of your mandated actions were related to removing the DRC; here is how that has worked out. Minister Chiarelli claims: “We have also removed the Debt Retirement Charge (DRC) from all residential consumers’ bills.”

My comment: Minister Chiarelli did do what you instructed on this one, but the average household will save about $67 annually, whereas dropping the OCEB increased their bill by about $240. That means the net additional cost to the average household jumped by close to $170 annually from just these two actions They came into effect January 1st of this year, along with a charge for the OESP of about $12.00 per annum.

I presume this wasn’t what you had in mind when you conveyed your mandate? In any event I think you will see that the Energy Minister is not following your full intent on these matters. He also left the DRC on small businesses which employ many of those people forced into energy poverty who work part-time or at minimum wage. Continuing to charge small businesses the DRC means many are unable to afford to give their employees raises.

Mandate: Transparency

The other issue you pressed on your ministers was related to an Ontario with an “open and transparent” government. I notice the Minister of Energy didn’t once mention the words “transparent” or “open” in this context. He also is in direct control of provincially owned entities who fail miserably to be open and transparent, not to mention in breach of the Acts that created them.

I could cite other issues where Minister Chiarelli failed to honour the presumed intent of your mandate but I won’t tight now as I am sure the competent people in the Premier’s office will be examining the reports from each Ministry for that evidence.

Yours truly,

Parker Gallant

A concerned citizen

 

 

EDITOR’S NOTE: Mr. Gallant informs us that the Premier has replied to his letter, to say she was referring it to Energy Minister Chiarelli for response.

 

Wind power shifting to Western Canada

Renewable Energy News

Ontario taking a back seat as the green energy industry shifts to the west

Its oil industry may be in the tank, but Western Canada is taking some of the wind out of Southwestern Ontario’s green energy sails.

After a boom that made Ontario the front-runner for wind energy in Canada, with both the largest number of wind farms and the biggest ones located in the wider London region, opportunities for the green energy industry are shifting outside the province, the head of the industry umbrella group says.

The outlook for wind energy in Canada is continued strong growth, but that’s thanks mainly to Alberta and Saskatchewan, says Robert Hornung of the Canadian Wind Energy Assocation.

“We are going to see the focus of the industry shift westward to some extent,” he said.

Ontario added 871 megawatts of wind energy in 2015, bringing its total installed capacity to 4,361 megawatts.

Quebec has been the other major driver for the industry, adding 397 megawatts in 2015 for a total of 3,262 megawatts.

“Those jurisdictions now look ahead and are facing low electricity demand growth and currently have some surpluses of electricity. The opportunities for new development will be slowing down,” Hornung said.

While highly controversial in Ontario, wind energy makes up only a fraction of the province’s power.

Latest figures from Ontario’s Independent Electricity System Operator show wind energy makes up eight per cent of the province’s power-producing capacity, which is dwarfed by nuclear and gas-fired power.

The giant Bruce Power complex near Kincardine is the world’s largest operating nuclear plant.

In Southwestern Ontario, where most of Ontario’s wind farms have been built, wind energy has been especially divisive, in part because the province took control away from municipalities over where the giant, highrise-sized wind turbines could be built.

Deep subsidies paid to energy producers under long-term contracts after Ontario plunged headlong into green power with its 2009 Green Energy Act didn’t help, causing a political backlash to the projects in many areas of the province.

Those projects came on stream as the Liberal government finally shut down the province’s dirty coal-fired power plants years later than planned, including one near Sarnia, that fuelled summer smog.

Ontario Auditor General Bonnie Lysk last month reported Ontario power customers paid $37 billion for the government’s decisions to ignore its own planning process for new power projects. She also noted consumers will pay $9.2 billion more for wind and solar projects under the province’s, 20-year guaranteed-­prices program for renewable energy than under an old ­program.

In the latest round of wind energy contracts, with suppliers required to bid on price rather than be paid the fixed rates of the past, Ontario plans to accept bids for only an extra 300 megawatts of power. The contracts were expected to be awarded last year, but were delayed until March after a flood of bids to build wind farms were received.

Officials said they needed more time to evaluate the submissions.

Western Canada is expected to pick up the slack.

In response to commitments to reduce greenhouse gases, Saskatchewan has announced plans to increase its wind energy capacity from its current 221 megawatts to more than 2,000 MW by 2030. Initial procurement is expected to start in 2016.

Alberta, already Canada’s third-largest wind energy province, is expected to add thousands of megawatts of wind energy capacity as it moves to replace two-thirds of coal-fired power generation with renewable energy.

Hornung said there could also be opportunities for Canada’s wind energy industry to export power to the U.S., as more places there replace coal-fired power in an effort to reduce greenhouse gases.

“They have made it clear that imports from Canada are one way they could potentially do that,” he said.

Wind energy also is becoming more competitive as costs continue to drop, Hornung said. ­CanWEA estimates the cost of utility-scale wind projects has plunged 60 per cent in the last six years.

john.miner@sunmedia.ca

Ostrander Point wind farm developer stuns appeal hearing Friday

On last hearing day, developer alleges bias and asks Tribunal panel to step down. Then the MOECC demands new criteria be used for the decision

January 16, 2016

The multi-year saga of the appeal of a wind power project approval at Ostrander Point on the South Shore of Prince Edward County continued yesterday in Toronto, at what was supposed to be a hearing of final oral submissions.

The day began slowly with the usual formalities.

Appellant lawyer Eric Gillespie said at the outset of the day that the purpose of the hearing was to review the proposed remedy to avoid killing endangered turtles. The developer needed to prove that the remedies will work, Gillespie said, and they have not.

Lawyer Chris Paliare said that the wind power project at Ostrander Point will be a costly experiment, with wildlife suffering as a result.

Then, counsel for the power developer Doug Hamilton stunned the audience and panel with his assertion that the panel was biased and should recuse itself. While both lawyers for the appellant and Intervenor objected, Chris Paliare said that this was the result of a “sinister plot” by the developer who saw that “things aren’t going their way.” It was preposterous to bring up such an unfounded and serious motion at this stage of the proceedings, Mr Paliare asserted.

Stunning tactics by lawyers for the developer, MOECC
Stunning tactics by lawyers for the developer, MOECC

Even more amazing was the introduction of the concept of “public interest” into the decision process, by Ministry of Environment and Climate Change lawyer Sylvia Davis. “It’s OK to kill turtles,” Ms Davis told the panel, if it’s for wind power because the project will reduce greenhouse gases and that is in the public interest.

“Are you saying that ‘public interest’ trumps everything?” asked panel chair Robert Wright.

“I’m not saying that,” Ms Davis answered, then said she didn’t have any further information.

Eric Gillespie said that in light of the issues now raised by the MOECC, he would be asking for an adjournment of the Amherst Island, White Pines, and Settlers Landing appeals until the issues were resolved.

Lawyers were directed by the panel to file final submissions by Wednesday January 20th.

Here is a report from the appellant, Prince Edward County Field Naturalists.

 

The drama continues

by Cheryl Anderson, Prince Edward County Field Naturalists

On Friday Jan 15 Heather Gibbs and Robert Wright of the Environmental Review Tribunal (ERT) panel, convened yet another day of hearings into the Prince Edward County Field Naturalists’ (PECFN) appeal of the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change (MOECC) Renewable Energy Approval (REA) of the Gilead Power Industrial Wind turbine project at Ostrander Point Crown Land Block.

This hearing was held to hear final oral submissions from Eric Gillespie, representing PECFN, Chris Paliare representing the South Shore Conservancy or SSC (intervenors supporting PECFN), Douglas Hamilton, representing Gilead Power and Sylvia Davis, representing MOECC.

This so-called re-hearing was brought about by the Court of Appeal decision last year which confirmed the original ERT decision, but sent the matter back to the ERT for consideration of Gilead’s proposed remedy to serious and irreversible harm to the Blanding’s Turtle — that is, to install gates on the turbine access roads. Arguments about this issue were heard throughout the late summer and fall and were remarkable for the admission from the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry (MNRF) Blanding’s Turtle expert, Joe Crowley, admission that he had recommended against the project when it was first proposed due to the danger it would cause to the population of Blanding’s Turtles at the site.

The final submissions of the Gilead Power legal team included two issues that began the hearing. One was the assertion that the time for making any decision about the remedy to the project had expired. The other was that the panel, specifically Mr. Wright was biased and that as a result the panel should recuse itself. This assertion was based on the fact that after giving the decision on Ostrander, Mr Wright was on the panel for another appeal where the ruling quoted from the Ostrander decision. On that panel with him was the ERT vice chair Jerry DeMarco, spouse of Anne Bell, Ontario Nature’s director of Conservation and Education.

In contrast to the usual, Ms. Davis did not agree with Mr. Hamilton in these two matters. Eric Gillespie and Chris Paliare spoke, also disagreeing with Mr. Hamilton. The panel reserved their decision (they will let us know later what they have decided).

We then came to the main arguments for the day which were oral presentations which essentially set out again all the reasons that PECFN (Eric Gillespie) and SSC (Chris Paliare) had for denying the remedy. This evidence relied on and reiterated the information given by Dr. Fred Beaudry and Ms. Kari Gunson at the hearings in the fall. Arguments were presented against the position of the approval holder (Gilead) and the MOECC that gates on the roads would save the turtles from serious and irreversible harm.

After lunch Mr. Hamilton and Ms. Davis had their turns to respond to the arguments presented by PECFN and SSC. This was, as expected, a reiteration of the written material which was sent before Christmas. Both commented that by installing gates serious and irreversible harm to the Blanding’s Turtle will be reduced to merely ‘universal’ harm and therefore the project should be approved.

However, in her written submission Ms. Davis had introduced a new issue which she now emphasized. That is, the MOECC is asserting that it was acting in the public interest by approving the Gilead power project because it involves renewable energy. There ensued a “discussion” between Mr. Wright and Ms. Davis regarding the MOECC’s Statement of Environmental Values (SEV). Mr. Wright has required Ms. Davis (and all other legal representatives) to submit to the Tribunal by Wednesday January 20 the arguments she is using to support her contention that approving the Ostrander Point project satisfies (or doesn’t) the Statement of Environmental Values of the MOECC.

Eventually the Tribunal will issue a decision on the issue of timing and bias. The final decision on the remedy issue will follow.

For more information and for a link to help out with fundraising in this important legal action, please go to: http://savethesouthshore.org/overview-of-issues/#sthash.b2k6ItFm.dpbs