Wind Concerns Ontario is a province-wide advocacy organization whose mission is to provide information on the potential impact of industrial-scale wind power generation on the economy, human health, and the natural environment.
Electricity sold off cheap could have powered 50% of Ontario homes; wind clearly not needed
The line of poetry “it’s an ill wind that blows nobody any good” was a reality in November for Ontario ratepayers. The IESO (Independent Electricity System Operator) finally released their November 2016 Monthly Market Report on Friday, January 13, 2017 and there was not much good news in it.
While net exports* were down compared to the same month in 2015, it wasn’t related to the amount of wind power generated and curtailed (estimates of the latter from Scott Luft); that exceeded November 2015 by about 152,000 megawatts (MWh) and clocked in at 1,363,000 MWh. Generated and curtailed power exceeded Ontario’s net exports in 2015, representing 102.7% versus 72.9% the previous year. One should suspect November 2016 also saw spilled hydro and steamed off nuclear, but at 102.7% of our net exports, it is obvious that power generation from wind was clearly not needed.
November 2016 was not the month with the highest combination of generated and curtailed wind, but rather the second highest. The highest, according to Scott’s estimates, was December 2016, but we will save that report for another day.
Exported power could have served half of Ontario
Net exports in November 2016 were equivalent to the power that approximately 150,000 “average”** Ontario households would use in a year, or to put it another way, was sufficient to supply 2.4 million of those same households for the whole month of November. That is slightly more than 50% of all Ontario households.
The net exports of 1,326,960 MWh in November 2016 cost Ontario ratepayers $169 million to generate and sold at an average price of $16.69 per/MWh, resulting in income of $21.4 million. What that means is, Ontario’s electricity ratepayers subsidized the sale, picking up the difference of $l47.4 million, along with another $30.8 million for the 254,000 MWh of curtailed wind. Past and present Energy Ministers in the Wynne-led government would probably claim the deeply discounted sale price for those exported MWh was actually a “profit” but most ratepayers recognize that claim to be untrue.
Cancel the contracts
Current Energy Minister Glenn Thibeault has a chance to make his mark by halting all planned acquisition of wind power generation in LRP I and LRP II, as well as cancelling any wind power projects that have not commenced construction, or which have passed their critical “operational” dates.
Time to treat industrial-scale wind power development as that “ill wind”!
Parker Gallant on his Energy Perspectives blog, has summarized some of the comments made to the Ontario Ministry of Energy, when it requested input for the new Long-Term Energy Plan (LTEP).
Predictably, the wind power trade association and lobbyist said more wind power is needed, but other organizations such as the Canadian Taxpayers, the professional engineers, and the Ontario Chamber of Commerce have different ideas. They think the new plan should focus on cost — otherwise, as the Canadian Manufacturers and Exporters warned, investment and jobs will go elsewhere.
The comments from Strategic Policy Economics were pointed: wind doesn’t work.
Marc Brouillette’s excellent submission on behalf of Bruce Nuclear also carries some sane observations such as “Wind generation has not matched demand since its introduction in Ontario” and, “Over 70% of wind generation does not benefit Ontario’s supply capability.” And this one, which is becoming more evident as ratepayers are forced to pay for curtailed generation: “Wind generation will not match demand in the OPO Outlook future projections as 50% of the forecasted production is expected to be surplus.”
WCO vice-president Parker Gallant and president Jane Wilson speak on Ontario’s mismanaged electricity sector, energy poverty, wind turbine noise regulation, and what’s ahead for 2017
Wind Concerns Ontario
Q:You’ve been telling people about the impact of renewables, specifically wind power, on Ontario’s electricity or hydro bills. How much of our electricity bills is due to the wind power/renewables program in Ontario?
Parker Gallant: I recently reviewed the cost of wind and solar generation relative to its contribution to Ontario’s demand for electricity and its impact on our electricity costs is shocking. Wind and solar in the first six months of 2016 delivered 8% of our generated power and represented 35% of the Global Adjustment which appears set to average over $1 billion per month. That represents a cost of over 36 cents a kilowatt hour (kWh), including the hourly Ontario energy price (HOEP).
Q: Parker, you’ve also been telling people about the Global Adjustment or GA, which is where a lot of charges are hidden. Do you think these charges should be detailed on our bills, or is that even possible?
Parker Gallant: While I believe in principle the GA should be revealed on our monthly bills, in practice, that would require reams of paper. How will the local distribution company explain how much you are billed for curtailed wind generation or the meteorological stations that measure the amount of curtailed wind that might have been generated? How to explain, say, the cost of spilled hydro or steamed off nuclear or the water fuel fee, or how to tell the ratepayer how much they are subsidizing the rates for large industrial clients, or what it is costing under the rural and remote rate plan (RRRP) that transports diesel fuel to remote First Nations, among dozens of other items included in our monthly bills?
Q: The Premier and Energy Minister are now saying that parts of their policies have been a “mistake” and that they need to get bills down. Wind Concerns is saying that canceling wind power contracts is necessary for that to happen. Can you explain? How much are the 2016 contracts worth?
Parker Gallant: Interesting they are now admitting a “mistake,” but when George Smitherman was Energy Minister he was provided with a long-term energy plan that had been carefully developed by “experts” within the crown agencies. He chose to cancel the plan and instead, impose one developed in conjunction with outsiders who were NOT experts. Previous Energy Ministers (Dwight Duncan comes to mind for his “smart meter” for every ratepayer) made mistakes, as did those who followed such as Brad Duguid and were roundly criticized by both the media and by ratepayers. The canceling of wind power projects not yet built or even contracted is only “step one” and will slow the climb in our bills. The current Minister, Glenn Thibeault has only suspended Large Renewable Procurement or LRP ll, and needs to cancel it, as well as LRP I and any of those contracts now past their agreed-to start date. There are ways to reduce costs almost immediately.
Jane Wilson: Wind Concerns Ontario prepared a detailed document for the IESO on the Long-Term Energy Plan, suggesting ways they could save $1.7 billion annually. That would have an immediate cost reduction impact.
Q: The Energy Minister says that now, Ontario is a “net exporter” of electricity like that’s a good thing. He claims we’re making money: is that true?
Parker Gallant: Being a “net exporter” of 16.8 terawatts (TWh) in 2015 is simply a demonstration of being a bad planner and manager of the system. If one adds the spilled hydro and curtailed wind to the net exports, the 21.2 TWh could have provided over half of all average Ontario households with power for a full year, yet we sold it 2.36 cents/kWh while we paid 10.14 cents/kWh for its generation. Ontario contracted for far too much intermittent and unreliable wind and solar power creating a domino effect the increased our costs of generation. Paradoxically, if Ontario ratepayers consumed more of the annual excess power (15.5% in 2015) it would help reduce our per kWh cost.
Q: What is WCO’s stance on climate change?
Jane Wilson: Our position is that everyone wants to do the right thing for the environment, whether that is preventing air pollution or using the most efficient forms of power generation — but that isn’t industrial-scale wind. For example, the Ontario Society of Professional Engineers or OSPE says that the proliferation of large-scale wind will actually increase greenhouse gas emissions, therefore not achieving the government’s stated goals. In the OSPE’s most recent report, they say “Wind generation offers less GHG reduction value in Ontario because base-load generation is already carbon-free and wind generation often displaces hydroelectric and nuclear base-load generation.”
Q: Why does the Ontario government continue to force wind turbines on communities that don’t want them?
Jane Wilson: The government is acting on an ideology that is not supported by fact and to do that, it erased communities’ right to local land-use planning with the Green Energy Act. We think that’s wrong, and are supporting the now 116 municipal governments that have demanded a return of that control and also that community support be mandatory for wind power contracts. There is a concern too about communities in the North where there may not be elected municipal governments, where contracts can be awarded for wind power projects that have a significant negative impact on the natural environment, for little or no benefit.
WCO worked with Ontario municipalities on the mandatory support resolution.
Q:Can the government really cancel wind power contracts? Can a new government cancel the subsidy programs?
Jane Wilson: Yes. There are clauses in the contracts under LRP I that are “off-ramps” in the case of cancellation, and which set out the financial steps needed to do that. For example, the contract with EDP for the “Nation Rise” project south of Ottawa in North Stormont, worth $430 million over 20 years, would cost $250,000 plus reimbursement for development costs that must be justified, to a maximum of $600,000. And yes, government can cancel subsidy programs. The LRP II, now “suspended”, should be cancelled outright.
The other opportunity is to cancel wind power projects that do not have a “Notice-to-Proceed”: this is straightforward. WCO has also suggested to the IESO that the government look seriously at all contracts and review them for opportunities to cancel. Even costly negotiated buy-outs will reduce hydro costs significantly, due to the high cost of disposing of surplus power.
Q: What is WCO doing to help people already living with wind turbines, and the noise they produce?
Jane Wilson: We support the public health investigation being done by the Huron County Health Unit, and hope that other municipalities will take similar action. We are also looking at how research can be done to help change the Ontario regulations on noise –which are not based on current science and in fact, are completely inadequate to protect health. We prepared a detailed document on how to revise noise enforcement regulations, another on how the approval process must be changed to protect health, and we submitted a document to the World Health Organization which is preparing global noise regulations for wind turbines. In short, we take every opportunity possible to explain the situation for people living in communities where wind turbines and their noise emissions have been forced, without consent, on the people of Ontario, with the goal of having regulations and processes changed.
Q: What’s ahead in 2017?
Jane Wilson: It’s a very different world for wind power now, than in 2009 when the Green Energy Act was passed. People are genuinely questioning the benefit of high-impact, large-scale wind power development, especially when there seem to be few, if any, benefits, and we are seeing the shocking results of the government’s complete mismanagement of the electricity sector such as lost jobs and rising energy poverty. We believe the government will have to take dramatic action if it is serious about getting electricity bills down. The fact that Ontario municipalities are speaking out on this issue and taking action will also have results, we believe. We are hoping for a complete halt to the ongoing damage of the government’s policies, and that there will be help for people already living with the noise and other impacts of industrial-scale wind turbines.
As for Wind Concerns Ontario, we are not stopping our work.
The Day Ontario’s wind tyranny ends, there will be dancing in the streets
The editor of the magazine North American Windpower, recently marked the demise of Ontario’s wind industry. His article was titled “Eulogizing Ontario’s Wind Industry.” Apparently the eulogy was a result of Ontario Energy Minister Glenn Thibeault’sannouncementof Sept. 27 that he was “suspending” the acquisition of 1,000 MW (megawatts) of renewable energy under the previously announced LRP ll (Large Renewable Procurement).
Thibeault explained that “IESO (Independent Electricity System Operator) had advised that Ontario had a robust supply of electricity over the coming decade to meet projected demand.” Thibeault didn’t express surprise at this sudden turn of events or explain what led to the realization. To put some context around the suspension, only a few months earlier former Energy Minister Bob Chiarelli had issuedthe directiveto acquire the 1,000 MW that Thibeault shortly after “suspended.”
The Windpower article opens with: “Ladies and gentlemen, we are gathered here today to pay our respects to Ontario’s utility-scale wind industry, which has passed away from unnatural causes (a lack of government support).”
If Ontario’s wind industry had truly passed away, the celebrations among hundreds of thousands of Ontario ratepayers would have rivaled the scale of celebrations exhibited in Florida byCuban exilesafter hearing that Castro died. As it is, Ontarians are hardly celebrating. We will be forced to live with and among industrial wind turbines for at least the next 20 years. The “government support” alluded to in the eulogy isn’t dead. It continues to get pulled from the pockets of all Ontario ratepayers and has caused undue suffering.
The wind industry rushed to Ontario to enjoy the largesse of government support via a government program that granted above-market payments for intermittent and unreliable power. Industrial wind turbines have so driven up electricity prices that Ontario now suffers thehighest residential ratesin Canada and the fastest growing rates in North America. The Ontario Association of Food Banks in its recent 2016 “Hunger Report” noted: “Since 2006, hydro rates have increased at a rate of 3.5 times inflation for peak hours, and at a rate of eight times inflation for off-peak hours. Households across Ontario are finding it hard to keep up with these expenses, as exemplified by the $172.5 million in outstanding hydro bills, or the 60,000 homes that were disconnected last year for failing to pay.”
Beyond that, the cost of energy affects businesses and, as noted by the Canadian Federation of Independent Businesses, “fuel, energy costs” ranks for their Ontario members as the second-highest “major cost constraint” behind “tax, regulatory costs.”
Until the day we actually see Ontario electricity consumers dancing in the streets one day, the eulogy for this province’s wind-power tyranny is unfortunately premature.
Parker Gallant is a former bank executive who looked at his power bill and didn’t like what he saw.
“The significant increase in wind capacity is questionable …”
December 14, 2016
As part of the Long Term Energy Planning process, a report that contains information that is highly critical of wind turbines’ role in generating electricity has been produced in response to the Ontario government’s consultation process on the LTEP in the context of the government’s climate change initiatives.
The report, titled Ontario’s Emissions and the Long-Term Energy Plan, is available at this link:
The author is Marc Brouillette of the strategic consulting firm Strategic Policy Economics; the report and analysis was funded by Bruce Power, the Organization of Canadian Nuclear Industries, Powerstream and the Power Workers Union. The report documents the case for nuclear as the long-term stable solution for electrical generation in Ontario and as a cost effective solution to reach the Liberal government’s carbon emission goals.
Expanding Ontario’s wind power generation capacity is “questionable” the authors say, for three reasons:
Wind generation has not matched demand since its introduction in Ontario;
Over 70% of wind generation does not benefit Ontario’s supplycapability: and,
Wind generation will not match demand in the OPO Outlook future projections as 50% of the forecasted production is expected to be surplus.
It has been well documented that wind turbines generate power that is out of sync with Ontario’s power demands. This report provides data on the extent of this problem confirming its statement that over 70% of wind generation does not benefit Ontario’s supply capability (page 20).
The report goes on to confirm that when wind generation is available it causes “curtailment (waste) of both nuclear and hydro, exports of wind generated electricity at prices well below the cost of production and reduction of natural gas fired generation” (page 21). This situation may improve going forward, but still, the report concludes, over 50% of wind generation in Ontario is not productively used by Ontarians” (page 22). Further, “it could be viewed as wasted through curtailments and/or via uneconomic exports to neighbouring jurisdictions.”
Cancel the contracts
Wind Concerns Ontario and now more than 116 municipalities as well as other stakeholders and interest groups have repeatedly called for the cancellation of wind turbine contracts. The information in this detailed report supports the case for cancelling the contracts under Large Renewable Procurement I (LRP I) and halting LRP II and FIT 5.0 as well as all wind power projects not yet in commercial production (e.g., White Pines, Amherst Island, Fairview). The government of Ontario will find it difficult to justify these contracts in the context of this data, and in the context of what the Energy Minister has said is an existing “robust” supply of power in Ontario at present.
Parker Gallant in his role as an energy observer estimated that wind power, which has an average contract price in the range of 13.3 cents, actually ended up costing the Ontario electrical system about 30.9 cents over the first six months of 2016.
These data, plus information from the 2015 report by the Ontario Auditor General, indicate that there is substantial benefit for the people of Ontario in cancelling wind power contracts.
The report includes the recommendation that the Ontario LTEP should “seek out the lowest cost, emission-free energy solutions that reflect the integrated costs of generation, transmission, and distribution.”
Wind Concerns Ontario will continue its call to cancel the wind power contracts; our response to the Long-Term Energy Plan will be published shortly.
Most electricity ratepayers in Ontario are aware that contracts awarded to wind power developers following the Green Energy Act gave them 13.5 cents per kilowatt (kWh) for power generation, no matter when that power was delivered. Last year, the Ontario Auditor General’s report noted that renewable contracts (wind and solar) were handed out at above market prices; as a result, Ontario ratepayers overpaid by billions.
The Auditor General’s findings were vigorously disputed by the wind power lobbyist the Canadian Wind Energy Association or CanWEA, and the Energy Minister of the day, Bob Chiarelli.
Here are some cogent facts about wind power. The U.K. president for German energy giant E.ON stated wind power requires 90% backup from gas or coal plants due to its unreliable and intermittent nature. The average efficiency of onshore wind power generation, accepted by Ontario’s Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO) and other grid operators, is 30% of their rated capacity; the Ontario Society of Professional Engineers (OSPE) supports that claim. OSPE also note the actual value of a kWh of wind is 3 cents a kWh (fuel costs) as all it does is displace gas generators when it is generating during high demand periods. On occasion, wind turbines will generate power at levels over 90% and other times at 0% of capacity. When wind power is generated during low demand hours, the IESO is forced to spill hydro, steam off nuclear or curtail power from the wind turbines, in order to manage the grid. When wind turbines operate at lower capacity levels during peak demand times, other suppliers such as gas plants are called on for what is needed to meet demand.
Bearing all that in mind, it is worth looking at wind generation’s effect on costs in the first six months of 2016 and ask, are the costs are reflective of the $135/MWh (+ up to 20% COL [cost of living] increases) 20 year contracts IESO, and the Ontario Power Authority awarded?
As of June 30, 2016, Ontario had 3,823 MW grid-connected wind turbines and 515 MW distributor-connected. The Ontario Energy Reports for the 1st two quarters of 2016 indicate that wind turbines contributed 4.6 terawatts (TWh) of power, which represented 5.9% of Ontario’s consumption of 69.3 TWh.
Missing something important
Not mentioned in those reports is the “curtailed” wind. The cost of curtailed wind (estimated at $120 per/MWh) is part of the electricity line on our bills via the Global Adjustment, or GA. Estimates by energy analyst Scott Luft have curtailed wind in the first six months of 2016 at 1.228 TWh.
So, based on the foregoing, the GA cost of grid-accepted and curtailed IWT generation in the first six months of 2016 was $759.2 million, made up of a cost of $611.8 million for grid-delivered generation (estimated at $133 million per TWh) and $147.4 million for curtailed generation. Those two costs on their own mean the per kWh cost of wind was 16.5 cents/kWh (3.2 cents above the average of 13.3 cents/kWh). The $759.2 million was 12% of the GA costs ($6.3 billion) for the six months for 5.9% of the power contributed.
But hold on, that’s not all. We know that wind turbines need gas plant backup, so those costs should be included, too. Those costs (due to the peaking abilities of gas plants) currently are approximately $160/MWh (at 20% of capacity utilization) meaning payments to idling plants for the 4.6 TWh backup was about $662 million. That brings the overall cost of the wind power contribution to the GA to about $1.421 billion, for a per kWh rate of 30.9 cents. If you add in costs of spilled or wasted hydro power to make way for wind (3.4 TWh in the first six months) and steamed off nuclear generation at Bruce Power (unknown and unreported) the cost per/kWh would be higher still.
So when the moneyed corporate wind power lobbyist CanWEA claims that the latest procurement of IWT is priced at 8.59 cents per kWh, they are purposely ignoring the costs of curtailed wind and the costs of gas plant backup.
22% of the costs for 5.9% of the power
Effectively, for the first six months of 2016 the $1.421 billion in costs to deliver 4.6 TWh of wind-generated power represented 22.5% of the total GA of $6.3 billion but delivered only 5.9% of the power. Each of the kWh delivered by IWT, at a cost of 30.9 cents/kWh was 2.8 times the average cost set by the OEB and billed to the ratepayer. As more wind turbines are added to the grid (Ontario signed contracts for more in April 2016), the costs described here will grow and be billed to Ontario’s consumers.
CanWEA recently claimed “Ontario’s decision to nurture a clean energy economy was a smart investment and additional investments in wind energy will provide an increasingly good news story for the province’s electricity customers.”
There is plenty of evidence to counter the claim that wind power is “a smart investment.” But it is true that this is a “good news story” — for the wind power developers, that is. They rushed to Ontario to obtain the generous above-market rates handed out at the expense of Ontario’s residents and businesses. The rest of us are now paying for it.
[Reposted from Parker Gallant’s Energy Perspectives blog.]
Global TV News published a summary of opinions by several commentators on how the Government of Ontario might deal with the crisis in electricity bills, which is causing unprecedented energy poverty.
Wind Concerns Ontario was pleased to be asked to contribute to the special news feature found here and excerpted below.
The following is by both Parker Gallant, a retired banker who now analyses Ontario’s energy sector and is the author of the blog “Energy Perspectives” as well as Jane Wilson, the president of Wind Concerns Ontario.
The Ontario government undertook its program to add renewable power without proper cost-benefit or impact analysis.
Now we have electricity bills that are the fastest rising in North America. The rich contracts awarded to huge corporate wind power developers are a factor.
Here’s what we suggest:
Immediately cancel Large Renewable Procurement (LRP) II that is currently “suspended.” With its target of acquiring 1,000 megawatts (MW) of more renewable capacity — it’s not needed and will further add to consumers’ power bills.
Cancel the five wind power contracts awarded in 2016 under LRP I and save electricity customers about $65 million annually or $1.3 billion over 20 years. Cancellation costs will amount to a small fraction of the annual cost. Cancelling approved but not yet built wind power projects and the new FIT 5.0 program will also save money.
Cancel “conservation” spending of $400 million annually. Ontario has already cut back on power use by more than 12 per cent since 2005 when consumption was 157 tWh to 2015 when it had fallen to 137 tWh. Do this and save immediately on electricity bills.
Move the Ontario Electricity Support Program to the Ministry of Community and Social Services, where this social assistance program really belongs. Electricity customers should not bear the burden of its costs. The move would create a budget shortfall so we recommend the following action:
Levy a tax on wind (and solar) power generation. The auditor general reported that 20-year wind and solar contracts exceed thosein other jurisdictions — the tax would help correct that.
Last, reduce the Time of Use (TOU) off-peak rate. This would encourage the shift of power consumption from peak to off-peak time in order to flatten daily demand, with less waste of hydro and nuclear power, and intermittent wind.
Let’s stop adding expensive, intermittent power to our system and stop punishing Ontarians.
Two Auditors General in Ontario have noted that the government never did any cost-benefit study on its renewable energy program; moreover, wind power is produced out-of-phase with demand in Ontario, and is a significant portion of the surplus power the province is forced to sell off cheap. Parker Gallant comments on who is really benefitting from Ontario’s energy management policies.
Michigan outperforms Ontario. And why not? They have our cheap power
Parker Gallant Energy Perspectives
September 6, 2016
The state of Michigan is outperforming Ontario. That’s according to a recent study by the Fraser Institute. Since the end of the “’Great Recession” Michigan has out performed Ontario, increasing their GDP in 2013 by 2.8% versus Ontario’s growth of only 1.3%. Unemployment levels in Michigan are currently at 4.6% versus Ontario’s 6.4%. Those are two very important economic indicators.
That news plus the fact Ontario has become a “have not” province in Canada, it seems policies adopted by the Ontario Liberal government to “build Ontario up” is having the opposite effect.
One of those policies resulted in Ontario’s electricity sector focusing on acquisition of renewable energy from industrial-scale wind turbines, solar panels and biomass. The passing of the Green Energy Act (GEA) in 2009 resulted in adding intermittent and unreliable renewable energy that is unresponsive to demand (wind power is produced out-of-phase with demand in Ontario). This had the effect of driving down the price of electricity.
The free market trading (HOEP) of electricity has resulted in Ontario exporting a rising percentage of our generation to buyers in Quebec, NY and Michigan, with the latter the biggest buyer. In 2015 Michigan purchased 10,248 gigawatts (GWh) or enough to power1.1 million “average” Ontario residential households. We sold it at an average of 2.36 cents per kilowatt hour (kWh) and were paid $242 million, but it cost Ontario’s ratepayers just over $1 billion.
Michigan doesn’t have to pay the Global Adjustment. You do.
Michigan appears delighted to be able to purchase our cheap subsidized electricity. Now they are seeking further transmission links to Ontario with an eye on the grid out of Sault Ste Marie.
Part II of Parker Gallant’s series on how Ontario continues to mismanage the energy file.
The previous article in respect to Ontario’s decision to close our coal plants examined the MW (megawatt) capacity and the type of generating capacity added to our electricity grid since 2011. The added capacity replaced the 4,484 MW of coal-fired generation at the end of 2011 in anticipation of increasing demand.
What I’ve done is approximate the costs of the added capacity versus the 4.1 TWh generated by the 4,484 MW of coal-fired plants, which cost only $135 million (3.3 cents/kWh) in 2011.
Nuclear instead of wind and solar
As an example, the 1,532 MW of emissions-free Bruce Nuclear refurbished generation, at a capacity factor of 90% supplying 12.08 TWh, easily covered the loss of 4.1 TWh of coal-fired generation and left 8.7 TWh for added demand due to its flexibility to steam off or bypass the turbines. The 12.08 TWh could have supplied most of the 2015 solar generation of 3.04 TWh and the 10.2 TWh of wind, which proved to be unneeded. The latter two alone in 2015 added an additional $2.7 billion to generation costs before curtailment (wind) costs of $88 million.
Bruce Power supplies from the 1,532 MW would have cost ratepayers $800 million, reducing the ratepayer burden by almost $2 billion annually. Additionally “nuclear maneuvers” (reductions), of 897 gigawatt hours added about $60 million during surplus baseload periods, caused mainly by (unreliable) intermittent power generation from wind.
Too much gas?
Let’s look at the gas plant addition of 602 MW: In 2011 the 9,549 MW of gas generation produced 22 TWh, operating at a capacity factor of 26.3%. Fast forward to 2015: the 10,151 MW generated 15.5 TWh operating at a capacity factor of 17.5%. Gas plants are quite capable of operating at a capacity factor of 40% to 60% (combined or single cycle). In either case, they are regarded as peaking plants and for that reason investors know they will be called on when needed. Their contracts pay them for simply being “at the ready.” Those costs vary but generally payments are $7,000 to $15,000 per MW per month. The additional 602 MW of gas added about $100 million annually to the costs. With gas generation falling from 22 TWh in 2011 to 15.5 TWh in 2015, ratepayers were burdened with the costs of the drop of 6.5 TWh at a cost of approximately $100 million per TWh, raising the cost of gas generation by $750 million since 2011.
Adding costly hydro
The bulk of the 754 MW added to the grid since 2011 came from the Niagara tunnel, (“Big Becky”) with a promise of 150 MW, and the Mattagami expansion added 438 MW of run-of-river hydro. Both of these projects by OPG were hugely expensive, costing ratepayers $4.1 billion plus interest on the money borrowed to fund the projects. If one amortizes those costs over 50 years it adds about $80 annually to ratepayer bills and the interest costs annually add about $120 million at 3% per annum. So that is $200 million for those two projects, without adding their OMA (operations, management and administration) costs.
As well, OPG is frequently forced to “spill” water under SBG (surplus baseload generation) periods mainly due to excessive intermittent wind and solar generation. In 2015 the latter was 3.4 TWh which cost ratepayers $150 million. The other event affecting hydro costs was an amendment to change “unregulated” hydro to regulated pricing. This change added $474 million to ratepayers’ bills for 2015 for the 30.4 TWh generated by OPG versus 2011. So hydro costs in the four years from 2011 jumped from a cost of $37.7 million/TWh to $53.3/TWh. The total additional costs of hydro (OPG only) in 2015 was therefore over $800 million.
The Ontario Energy ministers also issued directives instructing conversion of the 200-MW Atikokan and the 300-MW Thunder Bay coal plants operated by OPG. A 2005 directive from Dwight Duncan was the first and told OPG to convert Thunder Bay “to operate using a fuel source other than coal”. Later on when Brad Duguid sat in the energy chair he ordered it converted to gas but in the end it became a shareholder direction from Bob Chiarelli, ordering it to be converted to “advanced biomass” and agreed to cover the annual $30 million operating costs. As disclosed by the Auditor General, if Thunder Bay produces any power, it will cost $1,500 per megawatt hour (MWh). In respect to the conversion of Atikokan it may produce cheaper power in the 20 cents/kWh range but will probably operate at 10% of capacity and generate an annual cost of about $35 million. So collectively, both of these conversions will produce almost no power but will add approximately $65 million annually to ratepayers’ bills.
Conservation is expensive
The long-term conservation budget for 2015-2020 is $2.6 billion, meaning IESO will allocate spending of $433 million annually to local distribution companies (LDC) to reduce consumption by 7 TWh. Should the LDC be successful, their delivery revenue will drop. Assuming the delivery charge represents about 35% (on average) the revenue drop for all LDC would be approximately $300 million. Then the LDC will be entitled to apply for a rate increase based on the drop in revenue, meaning the $300 million may be fully recovered. Adding that to the monies spent annually convincing us to reduce our electricity consumption via the “conservation budget” adds another $483 million annually ($433 million + [$300/6 years = $50 million] = $483 million).
$4 billion … a year
So the cost of replacing the 4.1 TWh of coal generated at a cost of about $135 million in 2011 is in excess of $4 billion annually.
Confirmation of the foregoing cost can be simply calculated. If one reviews the “average” cost of a kWh on the OEB “Historical Electricity Prices” as of November 1, 2011 was 7.57 cents/kWh versus 10.70 cents/kWh on November 1, 2015. The increase of 3.13 cents/kWh (+41.3%) translates to an increase of $31.3 million per TWh and applied to the 143.6 TWh consumed in 2015 provides an annual cost increase of $4.5 billion to ratepayers since 2011.
The cost blows away the purported healthcare costs supposedly caused by coal generation. At the same time, it removes about $1,000 of after-tax money from the pockets of the 4.5 million ratepayers in the province every year.
This is a sad commentary on what the Ontario Liberal government has done to Ontarians.
While concerns about Ontario’s electricity bills mount, with families increasingly finding it hard to pay the “hydro bills,” Ontario’s new Energy minister revealed in a Global TV interview that he doesn’t know that the situation is a crisis … in fact, he doesn’t know much about the entire portfolio. Here’s a fact: wind power in Ontario is less than 5% of the power supply, yet accounts for 20% of the bills. And, Ontario is exporting huge amounts of power while paying wind power generators to “constrain” production.
Parker Gallant this week sent a letter to the new Energy Minister Glen Thibeault, with an earnest offer to help, as a private citizen.
The Honourable Glen Thibeault, Minister of Energy,
Dear Minister Thibeault:
I was intrigued with your interview by Shirlee Engel of Global National and your humble admission that you still have much to learn about the portfolio that Premier Wynne handed you. Just to somewhat set your mind at ease I have been observing the Ministry of Energy and its complexities for six years and I too, on occasion, have doubts of my knowledge and understanding of the sector.
One thing I noted during the interview was your responses were not always factual perhaps reflecting your belief that your predecessors or the Ministry staff were, and still are, always correct. For example, you answered one of the questions on electricity rates by saying our “rates will rise 1.7% over the next 15 years”.
You may or may not be aware that when George Smitherman held the “energy” portfolio and shortly after he introduced Bill 150, the Green Energy and Green Economy Act (GEA), he appeared before the Standing Committee on General Government in 2009 and said this:
“We anticipate about 1% per year of additional rate increase associated with the bill’s implementation over the next 15 years.”
The Ontario Energy Board (OEB) says the “average” rate as of May 1, 2009 for electricity alone was 6.07 cents per kilowatt hour (kWh) and today, the OEB reports the “average” rate seven years later, as of May 1, 2016 was 12.10 cents/kWh. The increase of 6.03 cents/kWh is a 99.3% increase — not the Smitherman forecast of 7% for that period. In respect to delivery costs, Hydro One’s have increased by over 100% since 2009, and all of those increases were approved by the OEB.
Your predecessor Minister Chiarelli also made predictions. A year ago in an interview with the Windsor Star he said, “Rates are going to continue to go up everywhere. There was a blip in rate pressures because of the investments that we made, but starting in 2016 that will be flatlined very significantly.”
The electricity rate actually increased by 10% since his prediction …