Wind power vs. natural gas: why a cost-benefit study would have been nice

Two Ontario Auditors General chided the Ontario government about not doing cost-benefit studies. Consumers have overpaid by billions for intermittent renewable energy

November 13, 2018

Independent energy commentator Parker Gallant took a tour of the Lennox power plant in Bath, Ontario, last week, and was amazed at the capacity of the facility and its ease of ramping up in case of power demand.

He also learned that this natural gas power generation plant can fulfill any shortfall in Ontario’s power supply if needed, during the period when nuclear power plants are being refurbished.

And the cost? Amazing.

He will have more details soon but for now, his learning points out again the wisdom of two Ontario Auditors General who chided the McGuinty-Wynne governments on never having done any cost-benefit or impact studies before they launched and continued to carry out their ideology-based “green” energy program.

Now, Ontario ratepayers are carrying the burden via punishing electricity rates, and a new government is facing a dire financial situation.

Read Parker Gallant’s account of his Lennox tour, here.

End unnecessary wind power project and save $400 million: WCO to Premier Ford

 

A new wind power project will be a huge expense to Ontario consumers, and has worrisome environmental features, too. End it, Wind Concerns Ontario says.

October 31, 2018

At the meeting of the Standing Committee on Social Policy at Queen’s Park on Monday, October 29, the president of the wind power industry’s trade association and lobbyist, the Canadian Wind Energy Association (CanWEA) spoke against ending the Green Energy Act in Ontario because, he said, wind power is now the cheapest option for power generation.

He claimed that contracts in Alberta now average 3.7 cents per kilowatt hour, which actually excludes support payments funded by carbon taxes in that province. We leave analysis of this almost certainly false claim to the usual analysts (Parker Gallant, Scott Luft, Steve Aplin, Marc Brouillette and others), but we have questions:

Why did Ontario contract for wind power at Nation Rise for 8.5 cents per kWh?

Why is this project going ahead at all, when there is no demonstrated need for the power?*

And,

Why will Ontario electricity customers have to pay more than $400 million for a power project we don’t need?

The Nation Rise project in North Stormont (between Cornwall and Ottawa) is an emblem of everything wrong with Ontario’s renewables policy, under the former government. The 100-megawatt power project, being developed by wind power giant EDP with head offices in Spain, is minutes away from the R H Saunders Generating Station, whose full 1,000-megawatt capacity powered by the St. Lawrence River is rarely used.

Wind power, on the other hand, unlike hydro power, is intermittent and not to be relied upon — in Ontario, wind power is produced out-of-phase with demand (at night and in the spring and fall when demand is low).

And, it’s expensive.

Lawrence Solomon, executive director of Energy Probe in Toronto wrote Monday in the Financial Post that Ontario’s renewables are a significant factor in the mess that is Ontario’s power system. Renewables, he said, “which account for just seven per cent of Ontario’s electricity output but consume 40 per cent of the above-market fees consumers are forced to provide. Cancelling those contracts would lower residential rates by a whopping 24 per cent”.

Nation Rise may cost Ontario  as much as $451 million over the 20-year contract, or $22 million a year.**

But there is more on Nation Rise, which again highlights the problem with many wind power developments — the dramatic impact on the environment for little benefit.

Serious environmental concerns have arisen during the citizen-funded appeal of the Nation Rise project, including the fact that it is to be built on land that contains many areas of unstable Leda or “quick” clay, and it is also in an earthquake zone. No seismic assessments were asked for by the environment ministry, or done. In fact, a “technical expert” for the environment ministry did not visit the project site as part of his “technical review” it was revealed during the appeal, but instead visited quarries outside the area.

He testified in fact that he didn’t even know Leda clay was present until after his inspection, until after he filed his report with the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change, and until after he filed his evidence statement with the Environmental Review Tribunal.

Nation Rise received a conditions-laden Renewable Energy Approval just days before the writ for the June Ontario election.

It is Wind Concerns Ontario’s position that the Renewable Energy Approval for this project should be revoked, and the project ended, to save the environment, and save the people of Ontario hundreds of millions of dollars.

 

We don’t want to pay $400+ million for the power from Nation Rise.

#CancelNationRise

*CanWEA and others neck-deep in the wind power game recite a statement purportedly from the Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO) in a Globe and M<ail article that Ontario will be in a power shortage in five years. This is false, of course, as the IESO hurried to correct.

**Thanks to Parker Gallant for these calculations.

The unconvincing spin on wind power in Ontario

September 19, 2018

Ontario: not the perfect picture for industrial-scale wind power

Parker Gallant’s latest posting is in response to a new document from Canada’s wind power lobbyist, the Canadian Wind Energy Association or CanWEA.

CanWEA is carrying out an energetic campaign of persuasion as it is concurrently trying to promote a massive build of wind power in Alberta and Saskatchewan and defending its record in Ontario. With a new government that has pledged not only to cancel new contracts for huge unnecessary wind power projects (mostly, but not quite, done–Romney and North Stormont are still in process), but also to renegotiate existing contracts where possible.

That’s bad news for the trade association hoping to keep the gravy train going.

So, they have created a detailed characterization of the “success” wind power has been in Ontario. There is no mention of the inarguable environmental impacts, or of the thousands of formal reports of excessive wind turbine noise and adverse health effects–in some cases, so extreme people have been forced to leave their homes.

While the wind power projects may be able to “prove” compliance, using a very flawed protocol, the fact that hundreds of complaints are filed each month is a sure indicator of serious problems.

Here is Parker Gallant’s take on the CanWEA promotion piece.

WIND CONCERNS ONTARIO

contact@windconcernsontario.ca

 

NOTE: If you are experiencing problems with wind turbine noise/vibration/sensation, stray voltage from wind power infrastructure, or disturbed well water, it is absolutely imperative that you file complaints with the Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks. The new government needs to know there are problems, and the public service needs to understand it is not status quo from the previous, pro-wind at any cost government.

Call the Spills Line 1-866-MOE-TIPS any time, be sure to get an Incident Report number, and keep a record of your call and the circumstances leading to your call. You may also call the individual wind power operator for the power project you believe is affecting you.

Wind turbine angst on Amherst Island: will the island community heal?

“Friend against friend”: Of the 420 people on Amherst Island, 350 opposed the “Windlectric” wind power project, Farmers’ Forum reports. The result is a community ripped apart, that may never come together again

Turbines on tiny Amherst Island. [Photo from Association to Protect Amherst Island]
September 8, 2018

Republished from

FARMERS FORUM

By Tom Collins and Patrick Meagher

Amherst Island — The blades on 26 new wind turbines on Amherst Island started turning in mid-June following a decade-long battle that divided the small island community west of Kingston and turned friend against friend.

Some people still don’t wave to neighbours. Others decline to buy products from those who hold an opposing view, at the Saturday morning market.

The island (population 420) is now home to the fourth operating wind energy project in Eastern Ontario. About 350 islanders joined an association to stop the turbines. There are 86 turbines on the next island over, Wolfe Island, five more turbines just west of Kingston [Ernestown], and 10 at Brinston, 20 minutes southeast of Kemptville.

A Prince Edward County project that was under construction was recently cancelled by Premier Dog Ford as a cost-saving measure.

Several people said the Amherst Island community–you take a ferry to get there–was mostly split between two factions: the anti-turbine group included those who moved to the island since the 1990s and don’t own much land. The pro-turbine group consists of generational families with plenty of space to host turbines.

Sheep farmer Dave Willard, whose family has lived on the island since 1850, has two turbines on his farm and said while things have gotten better, there are still four people who won’t wave to him when he passes by.

“These are not people I grew up with,” he said, adding that turbines are divisive because of the visual aspect. “It’s just the way it is. It doesn’t bother me much.”

There are 17 landowners hosting the 26 turbines. Willard says while there will be good years and bad years, he estimated he won’t earn less than $10,000 a year from each turbine. “It doesn’t matter. If it were $2,000 a year, that would be fine by me,” he said.

Sheep farmer Cherry Allen at Flat Foot Farm is Willard’s neighbor and used to have 1,600 ewes. But they had to cut back to 600 because of the turbine construction on land they rented.

Allen, who runs the farm with partner Mark Ritchie, said they run a closed flock and it will take about three or four years to get back to 1,600 ewes.

Allen, who opposes the turbines, said that one of Willard’s turbines is 700 metres from her house. She said she can hear the turbine but it’s far enough away that she blocks out the noise.

While she doesn’t find them an eyesore, “they remind me of all the angst that has gone on before this and is still going on,” she said, adding that she doesn’t think the community will heal for a generation. “It’s going to take that long to rebuild. It’s pretty sad.”

Sheep farmer Ian Murray of Topsy Farms said his farm was approached several times by Algonquin Power to host a turbine. The farm is run by five partners and Murray said one of the partners didn’t like the look of the turbines.

Too much control by the power developer

Murray felt the wind companies wanted too much control. “We felt it was inappropriate for Amherst Island,” he said. “Saying that, I have no problem with my neighbours…. I have a big problem with the previous Ontario government, making things so lucrative.”

Homeowner Laurie Kilpatrick said the wind carries the noise that can sound like an airplane that never arrives, or a constant “swish, swish, swish.”

The last of Brian Little’s four children headed off to university this year,so Little put the family’s island home up for sale. He can see eight turbines from his back deck and hasn’t had an offer in the six months he’s tried to sell. He’s also close to a substation where all the turbine electricity is collected.”

They don’t do anything

“Prior to the Green Energy Act, you couldn’t build within 1,100 metres of a residence or school. In our case, the substation is 400 metres from our house and 700 metres from an elementary school.”

“It frustrates me that they don’t do anything. We have more than enough electricity in this province.”

Little has a point. Other sources of energy can provide enough power in the province. As it stands, Ontario sells excess power at a loss to U.S. states and Ontario has the most expensive electricity in North America.

Looking at one weekend in July, Ontario’s wind power produced 1.3 per cent of Ontario’s demand for energy, and there were 2,515 turbines operating in Ontario, as of December, the vast majority in Western Ontario, said Parker Gallant, a green energy critic who writes an energy sector blog.

He estimated that wind power costs Ontario taxpayers a net loss of $1.9 billion per year.

 

 

 

How to save $2 billion a year in Ontario on the energy file: Parker Gallant

Re-posted with permission from Parker Gallant Energy Perspectives.

Parker Gallant : Has a few ideas [Photo: Metroland Media]

If I were the new Minister of Energy …

On June 8, after the Ontario election, Ontario’s new premier – whoever that is – will be thinking of selecting a new Minister of Energy. With the challenges in that portfolio, the immediate question for anyone considering accepting the job would be, how can one fix the electricity side of the portfolio after the damage done over the previous 15 years by my predecessors?

Here are a few “fixes” I would take that to try to undo some of the bad decisions of the past, if I were the new energy minister.

Green Energy Act

Immediately start work on cancelling the Green Energy Act

Conservation

Knowing Ontario has a large surplus of generation we export for 10/15 per cent of its cost I would immediately cancel planned conservation spending. This would save ratepayers over $433 million annually.

Wind and solar contracts

I would immediately cancel any contracts that are outstanding, but haven’t been started and may be in the process of a challenge via either the Environmental Review Tribunal) or in the courts.    This would save ratepayers an estimated $200 million annually.

Wind turbine noise and environmental non-compliance

Work with the (new) MOECC Minister to insure they effect compliance by industrial wind developers both for exceeding noise level standards and operations during bird and bat migration periods. Failure to comply would elicit large fines. This would save ratepayers an estimated $200/400 million annually.

Change the “baseload” designation of generation for wind and solar developments

Both wind and solar generation is unreliable and intermittent, dependent on weather, and as such should not be granted “first to the grid rights”. They are backed up by gas or hydro generation with both paid for either spilling water or idling when the wind blows or the sun shines.

The cost is phenomenal.

As an example, wind turbines annually generate at approximately 30 per cent of rated capacity but 65 per cent of the time power generation comes at the wrong time of day and not needed. The estimated annual ratepayer savings if wind generation was replaced by hydro would be $400 million and if replaced by gas, in excess of $600 million.

Charge a fee (tax) for out of phase/need generation for wind and solar

Should the foregoing “baseload” re-designation be impossible based on legal issues I would direct the IESO to institute a fee that would apply to wind and solar generation delivered during mid-peak and off-peak times. A higher fee would also apply when wind is curtailed and would suggest a fee of $10/per MWh delivered during off-peak and mid-peak hours and a $20/per MWh for curtailed generation.  The estimated annual revenue generated would be a minimum of $150 million

Increase LEAP contributions from LDCs to 1 per cent of distribution revenues

The OEB would be instructed to institute an increase in the LDC (local distribution companies) LEAP (low-income assistance program) from .12 per cent to 1 per cent and reduce the allowed ROI (return on investment) by the difference.  This would deliver an estimated $60/80 million annually reducing the revenue requirement for the OESP (Ontario electricity support program) currently funded by taxpayers.

Close unused OPG generation plants

OPG currently has two power plants that are only very, very, occasionally called on to generate electricity yet ratepayers pick up the costs for OMA (operations, maintenance and administration). One of these is the Thunder Bay, the former coal plant converted to high-end biomass with a capacity of 165 MW. It would produce power at a reported cost of $1.50/kWh (Auditor General’s report). The other unused plant is the Lennox oil/gas plant in Napanee/Bath with a capacity of 2,200 MW that is never used. The estimated annual savings from the closing of these two plants would be in the $200 million range.

Rejig time-of-use (TOU) pricing to allow opt-in or opt-out

TOU pricing is focused on flattening demand by reducing usage during “peak hours” without any consideration of households or businesses. Allow households and small businesses a choice to either agree to TOU pricing or the average price (currently 8.21 cents/kWh after the 17% Fair Hydro Act reduction) over a week.  This would benefit households with shift workers, seniors, people with disabilities utilizing equipment drawing power and small businesses and would likely increase demand and reduce surplus exports thereby reducing our costs associated with those exports.  The estimated annual savings could easily be in the range of $200/400 million annually.

Other initiatives

Niagara water rights

I would conduct an investigation into why our Niagara Beck plants have not increased generation since the $1.5 billion spent on “Big Becky” (150 MW capacity) which was touted to produce enough additional power to provide electricity to 160,000 homes or over 1.4 million MWh. Are we constrained by water rights with the U.S., or is it a lack of transmission capabilities to get the power to where demand resides?

MPAC’s wind turbine assessments

One of the previous Minister’s of Finance instructed MPAC (Municipal Property Assessment Corp,) to assess industrial wind turbines (IWT) at a maximum of $40,000 per MW of capacity despite their value of $1.5/2 million each.   I would request whomever is appointed by the new Premier to the Finance Ministry portfolio to recall those instructions and allow MPAC to reassess IWT at their current values over the terms of their contracts.  This would immediately benefit municipalities (via higher realty taxes) that originally had no ability to accept or reject IWT.

Do a quick addition of the numbers and you will see the benefit to the ratepayers of the province would amount to in excess of $2 billion dollars.

Coincidentally, that is approximately even more than the previous government provided via the Fair Hydro Act. Perhaps we didn’t need to push those costs off to the future for our children and grandchildren to pay!

Now that I have formulated a plan to reduce electricity costs by over $2 billion per annum I can relax, confident that I could indeed handle the portfolio handed to me by the new Premier of the province.

Parker Gallant

Surplus wind power costs millions: Parker Gallant

March 5, 2018

Parker Gallant : hydro and nuclear could have done the job and saved millions mismanagement. [Photo: Metroland Media]
Being asked to do a presentation at Wind Concerns Ontario’s annual conference this past Saturday, to describe the costs associated with industrial wind turbines was something I relished!

The presentation I developed used IESO information for 2017.

Discovered in the preparation of my presentation was the fact that that nuclear and hydro power alone could have supplied over 100% of all grid-connected consumption for 2017, at a average cost of about 5.9 cents per kilowatt hour.

The cost for Class B ratepayers in 2017 however, was almost double, coming in at 11.55 cents per kwh.

So why the big jump? Have a look at the presentation to see why and look at Slide 6 in particular where you get an inkling of how IESO view the reliability of industrial wind generation in their forward planning process!

PresentationParkerPPT final

(Reprinted with permission from Parker Gallant Energy Perspectives)

Ontario’s energy policies mean expensive, disappointing Christmas Day

Wind power a bonanza for power corporations on Christmas, but meant a bad day for ordinary consumers

December 29, 2017

Ontario had enough surplus power to provide millions with free power for Christmas Day … but that’s not what happened

 

A quick review of IESO data for Christmas Day 2017 shows our Energy Ministry delivered lumps of coal to all Ontario’s electricity ratepayers, whether they were good or bad.  Those lumps of coal can be seen as a gift from all past and present Energy ministers who signed contracts for the industrial wind turbines liberally sprinkled throughout the province.

This year, the IESO data shows about 54,327 MWh* was curtailed (paid for but not delivered to the grid) and paid $120/MWH. That means wind power corporations were paid over $6.5 million  ($6,519,240 to be more precise) for NOT delivering that power.

The curtailed or wasted power was enough to supply almost 2.2 million average homes with power for the day, free.

Meanwhile, the IESO accepted about 25,680 MWh, so the curtailed/suspended generation was actually 2.1 times as much as grid-accepted wind power. Wind power corporations were paid $135 per MWh — that’s another $3,467,800 so the total bill for wind power for the day was $9,987,040.

What you paid them: 39 cents a kWh

Here’s what else it means: the 25,680 MWh of power actually accepted by IESO into the grid cost $388.77/MWh* or 39 cents a kWh!  And, that 39 cents a kWh doesn’t include the costs of gas plant backup, spilled hydro or steamed-off nuclear, all of which applied on Christmas Day.

What you got paid: 1.9 cents

That’s not all: at the same time, the IESO was busy exporting surplus power to our neighbours in New York and Michigan at an average of 1,993MW (net-total exports less imports) per hour. We practically gave away 48,000MWh (rounded) at a cost to Ontario ratepayers of over $4 million.  So, Christmas Day, the day of giving, ratepayers coughed up $14 million for unneeded power whether they could afford it or not! That $14 million raised the cost to electricity customers by about $40/MWh or 4 cents/kWh.

Christmas Day is supposed to be a day of joy and giving. In Ontario though, it was a day when the result of government energy policies and mismanagement furthered hardship for many.

(C) Parker Gallant,

December 27, 2017

 

* Calculation is simply $8,083,200 + $3,467,800 = $11,551,000/25689 MWh = $449.80/MWh

Too much wind power means millions wasted for Ontario

December 3, 2017

From Parker Gallant Energy Perspectives

Ontario’s electricity ratepayers paid more than $500 million in 2017 for nothing

With only one month left in the current year, the bad news on the electricity sector keeps getting worse.

Well before the official sources such as IESO report on how much power industrial wind turbines generated and how much was curtailed (constrained, or paid for but not added to the power grid), my friend Scott Luft has published his estimates for both the former and the latter for the month of November.

As he reports (conservatively), curtailed wind in November was over 422,000 megawatt hours (MWh) — that could have supplied 562,000 average Ontario households with free power for the month.

Instead, no one got free power; the cost of the 422,000 MWh of undelivered wind power to Ontario ratepayers was $120/MWh.  That $50.7-million cost for the month was simply added to the costs of the electricity bills ratepayers will be obliged to pay, while some of it will deferred to the future as part of the Fair Hydro Plan.

Somebody’s enjoying cheap power — not you  

No doubt the wasted wind power presented itself when it wasn’t needed; if it had been accepted into the grid, that extra power could have caused blackouts or brownouts, so it was curtailed.  At the same time, much of the grid-accepted wind was exported to our neighbours in New York, Michigan and elsewhere, at discount prices!  Curtailed wind for November 2017 compared to 2016 was almost 55% higher.

How bad is it? Let’s review the first 11 months of the current year, compared to 2016.

So far in 2017, curtailed wind is about 786,000 MWh higher (+33.8%) at just over 3.1million MWh.  The cost of all the curtailed wind so far in 2017 is approximately $373.6 million, or $94.3 million more than 2016 costs.

Read the full article here.

 

 

WIND CONCERNS ONTARIO Note: the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change is currently reviewing documents for five more wind power projects which received contracts in 2016, totaling $3 billion more for electricity costs for intermittent wind power, produced out-of-phase with demand in Ontario

Wind wasted again — millions spent on unneeded power last weekend

October 16, 2017

Wind turbines near SS Marie: power not needed but cost us millions (National Post photo)

October 15, 2017 was quite a windy Sunday.   Being a mild fall day too, that meant Ontario’s demand for electricity was low according to the IESO’s Daily Market Summary.  Total Ontario demand was only 313,000 MWh for the whole day.

Unfortunately for ratepayers, it was a beyond the norm windy day — industrial wind turbines spread throughout the province were spinning well beyond their yearly average of 29/30% of capacity.

According to the IESO’s daily generator report, the wind turbines could have supplied almost 84,000 MWh* of power, or about 27% of all the power consumed by Ontario’s ratepayers (approximately 83% of their capacity).  As it turned out, IESO curtailed or did not accept 42,500 MWh for which wind developers were paid $120/MWh anyway, and the 41,200 MWh grid-accepted power generation got them the standard $135/MWh.

What the foregoing means is wind developers were paid approximately $10,660,000 for curtailed wind generation and grid-accepted power.  That works out to a cost per MWh of $260 or 26 cents a kilowatt hour — almost double the current generation cost, for which 25% is being refinanced under the Fair Hydro Act.

As it turned out, the grid-accepted wind generation really wasn’t needed: as the IESO “Summary” report indicates, Ontario’s net exports averaged 2,110MW per hour or 50,640 MW at a negative price of $0.99. That means Ontario’s ratepayers picked up another $50K to provide our neighbours (principally Michigan and New York) with cheap power.

No doubt Ontario was also spilling hydro and steaming off Bruce Nuclear which ratepayers were also paying for on that windy October Sunday.

More proof that wind power provides costly, intermittent and unneeded power. More proof that the Green Energy and Economy Act should be tossed out!

 

 

*All numbers are rounded.

More proof: wind power produced out of sync with demand in Ontario

Wasted. [Photo Gary Moon/Moonlight Photography]
October 11, 2017

Friday October 6th, 2017 was a work day just before the Thanksgiving weekend. At 10 AM that morning, Ontario’s electricity ratepayers had much to be thankful for. Power generation from wind amounted to just 27 MWh, but that 27 MWh wasn’t really needed as nuclear, hydro and a little gas were providing all the power we needed.  And, both hydro and gas were capable of producing lots more if Ontario demand required it.

The hourly Ontario energy price (HOEP) during that hour was $13.50/MWh (megawatt hour) so the value of the 27 MWh that wind produced in that hour cost ratepayers about $365.

Two days later, Thanksgiving Sunday was a different story: at 3 AM wind power was working in the night, generating 1,145 MWh with another 2,797 MWh curtailed (wasted, held back, not added to the grid). Ontario’s ratepayers were paying $135/MWh for the grid-accepted wind and $120/MWh for the curtailed wind.

The HOEP was a negative $3/MWh so the grid-delivered wind was costing ratepayers $415.95/MWh or 41.6 cents/kWh! In total, that one hour cost ratepayers $476,274 for unneeded generation. On top of that, because Ontario demand for power was low (most of us were fast asleep so the LED lights were out), Bruce nuclear was steaming off excess generation (we pay for that), OPG was probably spilling water (we also pay for that), and we were exporting 2,802 MWh to Michigan, New York and Quebec and picking up the $3/MWh cost.

So, comparing the two hours suggests we didn’t need wind generation on October 6th during a business day and we didn’t need it on October 8th in the middle of the night!

This is more proof that wind power is produced out of sync with demand.

The time has come to stop all contracting for additional wind generation and to cancel any that are not under construction.

 

Parker Gallant