Billion-dollar burden: how Ontario bungled green energy

Wind turbines near SS Marie: power supply saturated by Ontario buying more wind. (National Post photo)
Wind turbines near SS Marie: power supply saturated but Ontario buying more wind. (National Post photo)

Worthy of a repost, from the National Post, this opinion from a renewable energy insider.

September 2, 2016

Ontario set an all-time peak electricity demand of 27,005 megawatts (MW) 10 years ago this summer. At the time, rising demand and plans to retire its coal-fired power plants dominated provincial energy policy. What followed was optimism for a new energy policy, focused on the ambitious procurement of large wind and solar installations. I felt great pride in helping to lead an industry that would make Ontario’s power system clean, responsive and cutting edge.

What a difference a decade makes. Intrusive policy and poor implementation are largely responsible for the energy market debacle Ontarians face today. But there is no excuse now for buying more mega-projects when our power supply is saturated and hydro bills are skyrocketing.

Coal-fired power generation effectively disappeared after 2010, by which time Ontario’s electricity demand had already started to plummet. Demand has fallen 13 per cent in the past 10 years, including consecutive reductions in each of the past five years. In 2016, Ontario will consume less electricity than in 1997.

Peak demand exceeded 23,000 MW only one day this summer, despite parts of the province seeing 35 days with temperatures above 30 C. Yet our installed capacity approaches 40,000 MW. The system will have reserves above extreme summer peaks well into the 2020s. The Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO) reinforced this point recently when it confirmed “Ontario will have sufficient supply for the next several years.”

Against this troubling background, the Ontario government is procuring an additional 1,300 MW of large wind and solar generation under the Large Renewable Procurement (LRP) program. This decision is indefensible. It makes the frequency of negative pricing (paying our U.S. neighbours to take Ontario energy during periods of low demand) and curtailment (paying wind developers for energy production even when the grid can’t use the power) even worse. These problems have become billion-dollar burdens for Ontario electricity customers.

Sweet contracts, painful electricity bills

Offering sweet contracts to large renewable energy developers while demand stagnates has helped push hydro bills higher. Electricity prices have increased by seven per cent a year since 2009. Costs have risen faster than Ontario’s inflation rate in each of the past several years. The province’s electricity rates are increasing faster than any other jurisdiction in North America.

It’s clear that change must begin with the renewable industry, since our industry alone benefits from the continued overprocurement of electricity. The fact is large wind and solar developers have been pampered by Queen’s Park for far too long. Although solar installation costs dropped 70 per cent in the past decade, the government froze prices for years at a time. When permitting delays enabled projects to be built as much as five years after contracts were awarded, multi-millionaires were created overnight.

Today, with no logical reason to build more wind and solar mega-projects in Ontario, renewable developers must confront the economic damage they are doing to their families, friends and neighbours, and to the next generation of citizens who will bear the brunt of this green corporate welfare.

Renewable energy companies must confront the economic damage they are doing.

We need to make four changes. First, Ontarians must demand a return to basic electricity policy principles: safety, reliability and cost effectiveness. Second, the government should revisit the IESO’s legal obligations associated with the current LRP process and exit this procurement process without paying the ransoms that characterized Ontario’s gas plant debacles. Third, the IESO should restrict renewable procurement to the smaller rooftop and distributed energy projects that actually benefit customers. Fourth, Ontario renewable energy firms must learn to export their pioneering expertise and target new domestic and international markets.

The global renewable energy revolution has just started. Solar energy is increasingly the cleanest, cheapest and most environmentally sustainable option. The advent of battery storage, smart grids and the Internet of Things will catalyze innovative economies that embrace change. Renewables have a bright future in this world, but we need to regain control of Ontario’s failing electricity policies — and do it soon — to ensure we seize the energy opportunities of the 21st century.

National Post

Jon Kieran is a Toronto-based renewable energy consultant. He is  a member of the Canadian Solar Industries Association’s board of directors. He declines LRP work from clients.

Comments

Don Higgins
Reply

A likely multi millionaire is now confessing that it was a grand mistake. Where was he 5 years ago? I expect he was busy collecting money along with the foreign controlled developers. The Ontario liberal government are comprised of environmental fanatics who will die before they admit they were and are wrong. There is no accountability by Government never mind the money hungry developers and their consultants and other related fools.

Other European countries, such as Germany, are finding the same issues with over generation and how to control the mess.

There needs to be a great uprising of concerned citizens on a massive scale before the Liberals will start to rain in their bankrupt energy policies.

Barbara
Reply

Again the “advent of energy storage and smart grids”.

Don’t bring up the zero reliability issues.

notinduttondunwich
Reply

Don Higgins….. let’s do it… let jam downtown toranta with 10000 angry rural hydro customers tired and fed up of taking it in the keaster from hyrdo none and Ole Katty Wynnd and her merry band of greenies!!!!

Tracy..call me Polly Crackers..
Reply

I do wish you luck Don.  I made a similar proposal earlier this year and didn’t get even one response. 
More importantly for myself, renewable energy companies must confront the negative health impact they have imposed on people as myself who were forced to live amongst the turbines and have been harmed by exposure to infrasound. 
The government is banking on our demise-as in death. They will never admit to the sickness and death they have caused. 
However, as in the past, years may go by and this will not be forgotten. They will be held accountable as did those who committed war crimes of the past. 
People are beginning to squawk now that their electricity bills are through the roof. 
Well I’ll say it again, “I told you so.” There it is again..that “greed” factor. 
Does anyone read the Bible and believe in God? People are sucked in and brainwashed by scum bags here on earth, yet seem to snub Jesus Christ. In the end,  just ask for mercy I guess and all will be good.
Don, focus on the negative health impact in your protest and you can count me in. I have been suffering for years, since 2008, from the effects of exposure of lfn from the wind turbines. When I am dead, I do not care about how much money this scam has cost me. 
What I do care about, and am currently concerned about is the state of the world: the lack of ethical values and disregard for one another. 
If I were God looking down on the people of and in Toronto as they were gathered in their protest, I would liken them to an ant colony with many busy little beings scrambling around, in their futile effort to survive.  
The peoples motivation would be “greed.” the Bible refers to it as sinful.
Just as the Bible states, in the end, the waters will not flood the land. We will burn, (from the electromagnetic field we have created and live in). Has anyone ever thought of that? We will eventually be exterminated under God’s magnifying glass, we know it as the sun.

As a little girl, I remember sitting on the back step of the Clear Creek General Store. It was built by my mother’s parents.  I spent many Sunday afternoons in Clear Creek, often alone outside looking for something to do. I had an older brother and a younger brother at the time. Of 21 cousins, there were few girls; I saw them on occasion as they lived far away. So..I either tried to tagged along  with the boys which was not favorable at times. Paul ran over me on grandma’s long gravel driveway with his go cart. Another time they coaxed grandpa’s pony Champy over to the fence and convinced me to climb the wooden fence rails and get on. The fall to the ground wasn’t far, so it was not so bad.  As I grew older, and smarter, I became content with being alone. 
This particular day, as I was sitting on the step watching the ants scrambling around on the cement in their busy little community,  I thought about how their little life and how my brothers and my cousins would use a magnifying glass to direct the sun’s rays to chase them around and eventually kill them. Based on what had gone on in the past, the wars and sacrifices made, (my family was very much involved in the Air Force), the little battle with an ant colony was nothing.
I remember thinking about the short little “useless to me” lives these insects had; and how I had the power to eliminate them at any time. But I didn’t. I preferred to burn holes in paper with my magnifying glass! 
I also thought about the life I had and how long some of my days seemed; and how maybe someone bigger and more powerful then myself was looking down on our little existence as well. We were a part of a bigger picturr, a universe I had yet to discover. It is out there.
Some, perhaps Mike Crawley and Dalton McGuinty may be planning to use all their easy  earned, on the hard backs of the people as myself.. money,  to go live on Mars after they have destroyed our beautiful planet; reality will trump their ignorance when they find their “Mars” or reality will be hell.
They will leave this existence on Earth, the same as when they arrived, just like me..with nothing…yup!  
There is a difference, my soul will be on the high road, unlike theirs. 
Karma is a bitche.

Jon Kieran
Reply

Don Higgins: Pay attention, and don’t flatter yourself. I’m not “confessing” renewable energy in Ontario was a mistake, or anything of the sort. Read the article. I’m saying replacing coal with renewables made sense 10 years ago, when demand was increasing and coal accounted for a fifth of Ontario’s energy supply. I’m saying the procurement today of more mega wind and solar is dumb, because the system has a huge surplus. Five years ago, I was making a contribution to reduce smog alert days in southern Ontario. Today, I’m speaking out that additional renewable capacity is politically motivated and a bad idea. As for me being a multi millionaire, I laughed out loud at that one. My public stance is costing me work in the industry, but I’m proud of taking this position. Criticism from Liberals is the same to me as criticism from anti-renewable groups — I don’t care. I took an ethical stand, and I’m proud of it.

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