Ontario’s power giveaway: why rates keep going up and up and up

The Ontario experience of just two hours recently illustrates why electricity rates keep climbing, says Parker Gallant

More wind power not needed
More wind power not needed

 The early morning hours of June 12th demonstrated clearly why Ontario’s electricity rates keep climbing.  The two hours commencing at 5 AM had IESO forecasting wind power generation of over 5,100 megawatt hours (MWh), but actual generation for the two hours was less than 600 MWh —  IESO curtailed most of what they forecasted.

Ontario’s electricity ratepayers picked up the cost of the 4,800 MWh of curtailed generation, and also paid the cost for steaming off about 2,400 MW of nuclear power.

IESO doesn’t disclose how much hydro was spilled and paid for, but they did report we also exported almost 4,800 MW to Michigan, New York and Quebec in those two hours. And we paid them to take it! The hourly Ontario energy price was negative (-$4/81 & -$4.85) for those two hours.

Taken together, the curtailed wind generation, steamed off nuclear and the inability to collect the Global Adjustment for the exports added about $1.4 million in costs for just two hours.

On the demand side Ontario consumed less than 22,000 MWh for those two hours and the generators of those MWh will be paid about $2.6 million, raising the total costs to Ontario ratepayers to $4 million for the 22 million kWh.  If you calculate the cost per kWh it works out to over 18 cents/kWh.

The 18 cents/kWh is 104.5% higher than the current “off-peak” rate of 8.7 cents/kWh ratepayers will be charged for those two hours. The cost for those two hours (and all the other similar hours) will filter through the system and cause our rates to increase on November 1, 2016 when the Ontario Energy Board resets prices for the following six months.

So tell us again, why did (now former) Energy Minister Bob Chiarelli told IESO to contract for another 600 MW of utility-scale wind power?

The Ontario government seems determined to ensure Ontario’s residential electricity rates soon surpass both Alaska and Hawaii, so Ontario can claim to have the highest rates in all of North America.

© Parker Gallant

June 13, 2016

 

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

Wind power exec confirms: contracts to miss key performance date

"I'm a problem?"
“I’m a problem?”

The top executive for Gilead Power, the firm that was seeking to develop Ostrander Point in Prince Edward County into a wind power generation project, confirms what Wind Concerns Ontario has known for some time: there are projects in Ontario that are approaching, or have even passed, their key contract date to be supplying power to the grid.

The Wynne government has the option of now cancelling these contracts.

In an interview with the Picton Gazette, interim Gilead president Dan Hardie said the company is now “in limbo” with the decision by the Environmental Review Tribunal going against the project, and the “drop-dead” date approaching. (Actually, Wind Concerns Ontario’s information is that the key contract date was May 12, 2016.)

“We were supposed to be up and running by a certain date this year,” Hardie told the Gazette. “We are running out of time and that’s due to the Blanding [sic] turtle problem that we had.”

Asked if the ERT decision could mean the end of the company, Hardie replied, “Probably.”

According to WCO information, the cost to the government of getting out of the Ostrander Point contract would be $420,000 at most to terminate.

FIT Contract status: estimated from FIT contract source documents

Project 20 Year Cost Termination Cost (Max) Status/ Estimated

Key Contract Dates

Nigig/Henley Inlet, Parry Sound $2,057 M $1.0 M Pre-submission – Default Date =   Sep 24, 2015
Trout Creek, Parry Sound $68.6 M $420,000 Default Date = Nov 6, 2015
Fairview, Clearview $126.2 M $436,000 Default Date = Nov 6, 2015
Skyway 126, Grey Highlands $68.6 M $420,000 Default Date = Nov 6, 2015
Ostrander Point, Prince Edward $154.3 M $448,000 ERT – 24 months of Force Majeure = May 12, 2016
White Pines,

Prince Edward

$411.5 M $520,000 ERT – Default Date = 57 days after favourable ERT
Amherst Island, Loyalist $514.4 M $550,000 ERT – Default Date = 18 days after favourable ERT
Settlers Landing, Kawartha Lakes $68.6 M $420,000 Remedy ERT – Default Date = May 6, 2016
Majestic, Kincardine $13.7 M $408,000 Default Date – May 11, 2016
Meyer, Kincardine $27.4 M $404,000 Default Date – Jun 17, 2016
Total $3.5 B $5.0 M

 

 

 

Chiarelli out as Energy Minister; Murray retains environment post

Long-serving Liberal MPP Bob Chiarelli has been freed from the energy hot seat in the Wynne government. His post will now be taken over by Sudbury MPP and former NDP Glenn Thibault.

Glenn Murray remains in Environment and Climate Change.

Mr Thibault has a diploma in developmental services, and was executive director for the United Way, but has no experience in energy or the power system.

No experience in energy
Thibault: No experience in energy

Previous to this Cabinet appointment, he was Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of Environment and Climate Change.

 

For more details on the Cabinet shuffle, read the story from the Globe and Mail here.

Feedback on wind power contracts now up on IESO website

IESO Corporate Logo

The Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO) asked for feedback from stakeholders on its Large Renewable Procurement I program, prior to launching the next phase, set to begin in August this year.

The feedback documents include a lengthy document from Wind Concerns Ontario.

Among other commenters was the biogas association, which pointed out that the LRP I process had only one successful biogas contract; the association further commented, as Wind Concerns Ontario did, n the lack of coordination between IESO direction and various other government policy documents.

Find all the feedback links here.

Adding up Ontario’s climate change plan numbers: Parker Gallant

The Wynne government's climate change dream: giant noise-emitting wind turbines in downtown Toronto
The Wynne government’s climate change dream: giant noise-emitting wind turbines in downtown Toronto

The cost of Ontario’s giant climate change plan is promised to be only $13 a month–but overspending is a Wynne government hallmark, says Parker Gallant

 

Despite the news about the Pan Am Games being over budget by $342 million, the media was swept up with the formal release of the 86-page climate change action plan ushered in by Premier Kathleen Wynne and Minister of the Environment and Climate Change, Glen Murray.

The initial leak of this document caused a stir based on the autocratic way it was seen to impose changes to the way Ontarians live, work and play. As a result, some of the initial proposals proved to be absent in the final presentation.   This begs the question: was the leak of the document intentional?*

We were told the cost to households would be only $13.00 a month and the benefits would be a reduction of carbon emissions that would benefit our children and grandchildren.  In an effort to assuage criticism, the rollbacks on the leaked document became a daily occurrence.  This was reflected in a speech Tuesday night at the C. D. Howe directors’ dinner when Premier Wynne defended her government’s approach to climate change, insisting “cap and trade is the best way forward.  It puts a price on pollution. Some costs will rise modestly. Other costs, like electricity, will not because Ontario’s electricity sector now emits almost no pollution.”

When the big event occurred on Wednesday morning at the Toronto Brickworks, the weather failed to cooperate and the Premier arrived in a gas-guzzling SUV. She also ended the press conference early because “everyone is freezing”!  Perhaps “Mother Nature” was demonstrating her frustration?

Looking at the “Climate Change Action Plan” one finds a dazzling array of subsidies including: $14,000 towards the purchase of an electricity vehicle (EV), $1,000 for a charging station, a rebate to replace older cars, free electricity to charge your EV, money to replace your wood stove, pre-sale home energy audits, retrofits for apartments and social housing, money to install geothermal and heat pump systems for homes, rebates for people who build or own net-zero emission homes, money to offset the cost of climate change initiatives on residential and industrial electricity bills, money to help businesses switch to low-carbon technologies, money to increase walking and cycling, etc. etc.

Curiosity got the best of me so I added up the costs of the planned incentives/subsidies (per the release); they came to over $8 billion, which is at the high end of the estimates announced by Minister Murray.   Knowing the ability of the Ontario Liberal government to exceed their major spending plans, we should all be concerned with the potential cost overruns (61% for the Pan Am Games, according to the Auditor General).

There is a caricature of utopia (seen through the eyes of the Ontario Liberal government) in 2050, depicting wind turbines, solar panels, green industry, sustainable agriculture, etc., surrounding Queens Park. In 2050, apparently, a river will run behind Queens Park — perhaps the glaciers melted?

Anyone reading this plan would think Finance Minister Sousa suddenly found the estimated $5.9 to $8.3 billion to provide these subsidies in his back pocket, and Premier Wynne and Minister Murray are simply handing it back to the taxpayers of the Province.   Not true!

The annual cost to pay for these gifts will come from households who will, according to Minister Murray, pay $13.00 per month or $156.00 annually for all these benefits. Now, if Minister Murray does the math, the 4.9 million households in the province will have to cough up $760 million (via an additional tax on gasoline and natural gas heating) leaving a very large shortfall.  One assumes the additional money will come from the suggested “cap and trade” revenue the government says will generate $1.8 to $1.9 billion paid by Ontario’s remaining carbon spewing industries.

Incidentally, that is what California planned too, but they have just experienced a severe failure in an auction of carbon credits — it generated only 10% of the funds anticipated.

Why should Ontario expect to do better?

© Parker Gallant

June 10, 2016

 

NB: The “Document Properties” indicate the PDF was created 6/8/2016 9.06:02AM and modified on 6/8/2016 9.06:47AM.  Simply amazing!

 

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

Wind power slipping in popularity poll finds

Pollster tells Ottawa radio 1310 host Mark Sutcliffe today, the farther you are away from a wind ‘farm’ the more likely you are to support it.

People are getting it, says Wind Concerns Ontario president, Jane Wilson: “wind power is high impact for very little benefit.”

Most of those supporting wind power don't live anywhere near a wind power project, says pollster Mainstreet/PostMedia
Most of those supporting wind power don’t live anywhere near a wind power project, says pollster Mainstreet/PostMedia

London Free Press, June 8, 2016

By John Miner

Seven years after Ontario’s multi-billion-dollar, headlong plunge into wind energy, residents of the province are deeply divided on the project, a new Mainstreet/Postmedia poll has found.

The survey of 2,537 Ontarians, released Wednesday, found an even split on wind power, with 43 per cent of respondents having a positive opinion about it and 43 per cent a negative view.

But there was a big difference in the two opinion camps.

“The people who don’t like wind power right now really, really don’t like wind power, and the people who do like wind power are only somewhat okay with it,” said David Valentin, executive vice president of Mainstreet Research.

Out of those with a negative view, 28 per cent had a “very negative” opinion and another 15 per cent had a “somewhat negative opinion.”

For those with a favourable opinion, 18 per cent were “very positive” and 25 per cent “somewhat positive.”

Valentin said rising electricity bills are part of the reason for the weak support, but mishandling of contracts and reports of disputes involving wind energy developers and the Liberal government are also having an impact.

More than 60 per cent of respondents believed wind power has contributed to higher power bills and 59 per cent expect the charges will keep increasing over the next 12 months.

Other findings of the poll, conducted May 18, included differences in opinions based on age, gender and geography.

Younger people tended to be more supportive of wind energy than older Ontarians, and women were more favourable to it than men.

“There is a generational gap. The older you are, the less likely you are to be responsive to wind power right now,” Valentin said.

That’s potentially bad news for the Liberals, because it’s older people who tend to vote, he said.

The good news for the government is that wind energy has its highest support in vote-rich Toronto, where there’s a single industrial wind turbine. Torontonians show their attitude with people putting signs on their lawns to boast their electricity is supplied by Bullfrog Power, a green energy provider, he said.

“For a lot of people in Toronto, wind power fits their values,” Valentin said.

But the poll also suggests political trouble ahead with the potential for wind energy to be a greater albatross for the Liberals, he said.

“It is bad news if it continues along this trend. Wind energy is supposed to be a net positive for the Liberals, it is supposed to be about the fact they created a whole new green energy sector, shut down the coal plants, but it hasn’t turned out that way.”

Instead, people are reminded of the higher costs every month when they get their power bill.

“There is the potential for this to really rear its head during a general election,” Valentin said. “It is good news for them in Toronto, but it is bad news for them everywhere else.”

Opposition to wind farms

In Southwestern Ontario, home to the largest wind farms and more of the highrise-sized turbines than anywhere else in the province, rural divisions over wind energy have run high, including some communities declaring themselves “unwilling hosts” for the mega-projects.

A particular irritation to many communities is that the Liberal government took away local planning control over where wind turbines can be built.

Reaction: Jane Wilson, president of Wind Concerns Ontario, a coalition of groups opposed to wind energy, said attitudes have shifted more against utility-scale wind power as people learn about the impact on home electricity bills, Ontario’s business competitiveness and wildlife.

“There is also a better understanding of the fact that, because wind power is intermittent and needs backup by natural gas, it isn’t really getting us off fossil-fuel power generation, and it certainly doesn’t reduce greenhouse gas emissions. What people are realizing is that wind power is high-impact for very little benefit.”

Read the full story here.

 

Final arguments in Amherst Island appeal: danger to turtles and people?

The Whig-Standard, June 7, 2016

By Elliot Ferguson

The public waits for the start of the final day of the Amherst Island ERT. Elliot Ferguson/The Whig-Standard
The public waits for the Amherst Island hearing to begin June 7th. Photo: Elliot Ferguson/Whig-Standard

STELLA — The two sides in the legal battle over the Amherst Island wind energy project laid out their final submissions Tuesday.

The Association to Protect Amherst Island (APAI) is seeking the revocation of a conditional approval of Windlectric’s wind power project.

The hearing comes after the association appealed an August decision by the Ontario government that gave the project conditional approval. The Amherst Island Island Environmental Review Tribunal is expected to be the largest such hearing since the process was established.

Island resident Amy Caughey led off the final submissions by arguing that the negative effects on children’s health have not been studied collectively.

Caughey said the proximity of a proposed concrete batch plant near Amherst Island Public School would hurt pupils’ health.

But Caughey said such effects can’t properly be studied unless the children are first exposed to the dust and noise from the plant and the changes in their health documented.

“In Canada, in 2016, we do not permit such trials on children,” she said. “The burden of proof cannot fall on a parent.”

APAI’s lawyer, Eric Gillespie, said the evidence has met the burden of proof needed to show wind turbines are detrimental to human health.

“This case advances the health claims further than any other case this tribunal has heard,” he said, before outlining the key evidence his witnesses presented about the potential negative impacts of the wind turbines.

Gillespie said expert testimony showed Amherst Island is home to many species — birds, bats and turtles — that could be negatively affected by the project.

“This island is a stronghold for species that is under pressure,” he said of the local bobolink population.

Gillespie saved his final submission for the Blanding’s turtle, which has taken a special place in ERTs in this area.

The closing of the Amherst Island ERT came the day after a similar process rejected a wind energy plan for Prince Edward County.

On Monday, an ERT upheld an appeal of a nine-turbine project by the Prince Edward County Field Naturalists (PECFN), saying the installation of gates on access roads won’t adequately protect the population or habitat of Blanding’s turtles.

Gillespie said island residents called as witnesses have testified to have seen the turtle on the island. …

Read the full story here.

Testimony concludes at Clearview appeal: aviation safety reduced

 

 

A small plane lands at the Chatham-Kent airport. "Reduced" safety at Collingwood
A small plane lands at the Chatham-Kent airport. “Reduced” safety at Collingwood

Even the expert witness for the power developer admits there would be “reduced” safety for pilots using the Collingwood Regional Airport if the wind power project is built.

Simcoe.com, June 6, 2016

By Ian Adams

A tribunal hearing an appeal of the province’s decision to approve an wind turbine project in Clearview Township has moved on to the next phase of the process.

The final witness on Friday, aviation expert Ed McDonald, told the tribunal the eight turbines proposed for an area north and south of County Road 91 would have “no incremental impact on departure procedures” at the Collingwood Regional Airport.

The Town of Collingwood, Simcoe County, and Clearview Township are among six appellants to the project, on the basis several of the turbines could pose a danger to pilots flying into and out of the regional airport.

However, McDonald, testifying on behalf of WPD Canada, told the tribunal that approach procedures at the airport could be modified in order to mitigate the presence of the proposed 500-foot turbines.

“I hope to put to bed that the turbines put into the area would not allow access to the airport,” he testified. “It just has to be mitigated.”

That would include moving a waypoint used by pilots flying under Instrument Flight Rules, moving the ‘circuit’ used by student pilots from the south of the airport to the north of the airport, and essentially creating a ‘no-go’ zone south-east of the airport where the turbines would be located.

However, he acknowledged that “one turbine becomes a factor” in the case of the privately-owned Stayner Aerodrome on County Road 91.

“There is a negative impact, and there’s nothing we can do about that,” McDonald testified, adding there are other obstructions to that aerodrome, such as trees and buildings, that a pilot flying in and out “would have to be very skilled.”

McDonald said modifying approach and take-off procedures at Stayner Aerodrome, however, would mitigate the presence of the turbines.

On Thursday, another WPD expert witness, risk assessment consultant Dr. Raymond Cox testified that an aircraft in the area of the turbines experiencing one of several issues, such as mechanical failure or pilot fatigue, and flying at the same level as the turbines “would likely impact the ground in any event.

“If (a pilot) is in a situation where they have run out of fuel, have a mechanical mishap, and they’re at (500 feet), they are in a dire situation,” Cox told the tribunal via Skype from his home in England. “If you’re in a car and you go over a cliff and don’t hit a boulder, you will hit something else.”

Cox also testified that any turbulence coming from the turbines would have a negligible effect on planes flying a distance equal to the diameter of five rotor blades.

However, under cross-examination by Collingwood and Simcoe County counsel Julie Abouchar, Cox acknowledged that under certain circumstances a pilot could make it to the airport should there be an issue.

“So, if the turbines are between an airplane and the airport, his or her options for a safe landing would be reduced,” Abouchar questioned the witness.

“Yes,” Cox responded. …

Read the full story here.

Ontario’s IESO: reporting data missing by directive?

Information missing by accident, or design?
Information missing by accident, or design?

From Parker Gallant:

The Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO) claims it “works at the heart of Ontario’s power system – ensuring there is enough power to meet the province’s energy needs in real time while also planning and securing energy for the future.” IESO claim its “Vision” is “Powering a reliable and sustainable energy future for Ontario.” 

The “Mission” will accomplish their vision by “Operating and shaping the electricity system and market in an effective and transparent manner”.

This claim of transparency is worth a closer look — transparency is not something you should claim unless you mean it and your actions support the claim.

Visit the IESO website and simply enter either “transparent” or “transparency” in the search bar; you get 1,860 or 1,870 hits. You could be impressed by that but for those who really crave transparency and have an interest in the results, IESO is disappointing, particularly in the energy environment Ontario now finds itself .  The myriad of generators of all types, different rate classes, time-of-use pricing, conservation programs, low-income support programs, curtailment, spillage, steam-off, etc., etc. have also created a demand for meaningful and “transparent” data.

So, is the data on the IESO website “transparent” and useful in the context of disclosing the effectiveness of their immediate boss, Energy Minister Bob Chiarelli and his policies/directions on the “energy portfolio” and the policy costs?   The “burden of proof” should rest on the shoulders of IESO to provide information in a format allowing anyone to analyze the “data” but instead, the IESO fails to deliver. Hard for Ontario ratepayers to discern why their monthly hydro bill keeps rising.

That monthly bill includes a hidden charge for IESO’s operational costs along with a hidden “smart grid” development charge!

Here are other examples where the concept of “transparency” either eludes IESO personnel capabilities or perhaps masks political mandates from the Energy Ministry.

  • The amount of generation produced by wind and solar generators connected to local distribution companies (LDC) are referenced as “Dx” or “embedded” generation.  IESO: “At the end of 2015 there were nearly 3,000 (MW) of IESO-contracted embedded generation”.   IESO are required to use the data to determine monthly payments to those contracted parties, yet they fail to provide details on how much energy was produced (principally solar and wind) or the costs of that generation.
  • Since September 11, 2013 IESO have had the right and ability to curtail both wind and solar generation when they felt the grid might be impacted. They have been doing that on a regular basis since.  IESO even installed meteorological stations (paid by ratepayers) to measure curtailed production by wind generators yet they don’t disclose how much wind and/or solar is actually curtailed and how much it is costing ratepayers.
  • IESO also has the right to instruct Bruce Nuclear to “steam off” nuclear generation but again don’t disclose the amount of generation steamed off or the cost of that wasted generation.
  • Spilling hydro is also a common and regular occurrence and again IESO fails to provide the information that would enlighten us.  The only information in respect to spilled hydro comes from OPG (Ontario Power Generation), not from IESO or other private sector hydro generators. OPG report, being paid for 1.7 terawatts (TWh) in just the 1st Quarter of 2016 which is enough to power 570,000 average households for the quarter.
  • IESO also fails to provide the actual MW capacity of industrial wind turbines in their “Hourly Generator and Output Capability” claiming some are not fully “commissioned,” so the capacity levels provided change hourly.
  • IESO fails to provide the necessary data allowing ratepayers to see on a daily, weekly or monthly basis how much of the Global Adjustment (GA) they are forced to pay because of the sale of surplus electricity to markets outside of the province.
  • IESO fails to provide daily or weekly data on their “summary reports” that would allow ratepayers to be aware of just how much their extra costs are due to the portion of the GA that is picked up by Class B consumers in support of Class A consumers.
  • IESO fails to provide the costs of production by generation source which should include: spilling of hydro, steaming-off of nuclear, curtailment of wind and solar, fixed payments for gas plant idling, fixed prices paid for biomass contracts, etc., etc.
  • IESO fails to provide natural gas generation costs which would include total costs associated with idling and production allowing a calculation to determine the cost per kilowatt hour.

 

The above list could be expanded with a closer look or perhaps by a visit from Ontario’s Auditor General, Bonnie Lysyk; however, I think most will agree even without a report from the AG’s office the transparency claimed by IESO is sadly lacking.

I leave it to others to decide if the lack of transparency by IESO reflects incompetence, or is intentional and perhaps directed by the Ministry they report to.

© Parker Gallant,

June 7, 2016

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

Victory for environment, community at Ostrander Point

Ontario Coat of Arms

The people of Prince Edward County have been battling a wind power project planned for–and supported by the Ontario government–for more than six years. An Important Bird Area and staging area for hundreds of thousands of migratory birds, and home to endangered species, Ostrander Point was a fragile environment— not suitable, most thought, for a huge, utility-scale, wind power project.

The Environmental Review Tribunal released its decision today, prepared by co-chairs Robert Wright and Heather Gibbs.

Here is a news release from the Prince Edward County Field Naturalists and their lawyer, Eric Gillespie.

TORONTO, June 6, 2016 /CNW/ – The endangered Blanding’s turtle has come out ahead in its race to protect the species and its habitat in Prince Edward County.

The Ontario Environmental Review Tribunal ruled today that the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change permit related to proposed industrial wind turbines on the Ostrander Point crown lands should be revoked.

“This is a great outcome for everyone involved and for the environment” said Myrna Wood of the Prince Edward County Field Naturalists, the appellant. “It’s taken some time, but with this result the effort has clearly been worthwhile” said Eric Gillespie, legal counsel.

SOURCE Eric K. Gillespie Professional Corporation

A key point in the decision was the concepts that there must be balance between preserving the natural environment and wildlife and the goals for “renewable” power generation.

The Ontario government has approved wind power projects in other areas where environmental protection is a concern.

Will the government of Ontario do the right thing and now cancel contracts for utility-scale wind power in these locations?

ToughonNature