OPG Sinking Slowly: The numbers tell the tale

While the current Liberal Government in Ontario seems to simply adore Hydro One as pointed out in a previous article they seem to be bent on grinding OPG into the dust, or perhaps its their unmitigated love of wind and solar generated energy that is causing OPG’s slow demise.

In an effort to try and grasp what has happened to OPG one needs to go back to 2005 which reflects the time when we were all promised that the new Liberal created Ontario Power Authority (OPA) would develop an Integrated Power System Plan (IPSP). Time passed and the Liberals rejected the original IPSP and came up with their version, instigated by the Green Energy and Economy Act (GEA) and putting the emphasis on wind and solar generation. The incredible subsidies handed out by the OPA created the gold rush to Ontario to sign those wind and solar contracts. Coincidentally Ontario’s move to subsidize wind and solar generation was about the time subsidy programs were being abandoned by the rest of the world (the USA being the other exception).

If one looks back to those 2005 OPG results you find at that time, they were responsible for generating 108.5 terrawatts (TWh) or 68.8 % of consumption and 76.7% of total generation (Ontario inported 11 TWh in 2005) versus the 83.7 TWh they generated and sold in 2012. OPG’s 2012 production was a 22.9% drop from 2005 and the 83.7 TWh OPG produced, represented 59.4% of what we consumed. Factoring in what Ontario exported (14.6 TW) in excess generation, OPG produced only 55.3% of total generation. To put that in further perspective; 2005 was a hot dry summer which impacted hydro production and resulted in hydro generation falling to 34 TWh from the prior years level of 37.8 TWh.  In 2012 hydro production was only 33.8 TWh despite it being a relatively good year for water flows. On the latter we suspect that OPG was instructed to spill hydro during the times wind and solar were producing electricity surplus to Ontario’s needs but that information is not made available in the public domain.
Now if you look at the prices that OPG received (on average) for their 2005 production, it was 4.9 cents per kWh or $49 million per TWh so the revenue generated would have been approximately $5.3 billion. In 2012 OPG received 5.1 cents per kWh which is a jump of only 4% over that 7 years. The 2012 generation of 83.9 TWh therefore generated total revenues of about $4.3 billion. The net result is that production fell by 24.8 TWh or 22.9% and revenue dropped by $1 bllion or 18.9%.

Based on the nominal growth in revenue per kWh that OPG received since 2005, 2012 should have been good for consumers as the 4% increase that OPG received should have tempered any electricity price increases but that is not what happened. Over that same period of time the average price charged to the consumer for electricity jumped from 5.2 cents per kWh in 2005 to an average of 8.0 cents for 2012. The difference of 2.8 cents per kWh meant the ratepayers in Ontario saw the price of electricity jump significantly (53.8%), exceeding both inflation and what OPG received. In 2005 the consumer only paid .1 cent more per kWh for OPG’s production but by 2012 the difference had jumped to 2.9 cents or 55.8%, meaning OPGs ability to temper price increases fell in a meaningful way.

OPG’s production held down the price of electricity in 2005! As more wind, solar and gas generation (to back up wind and solar) have been added to the Ontario grid, OPG is playing less of a role in keeping that price down. As all the additional wind and solar planned (together with the additional cost of the gas plants) by the Energy Ministry are added over the next few years, and as OPG’s role shrinks, Ontarians will continue to see rising prices. OPG’s production in 2012 was 95% CO2 free meaning the last 5% of CO2 emissions that the Liberal Government want to eliminate will cost the ratepayers billions of dollars and those emissions will be replaced by similar emissions from gas plants.

While OPG will shortly wind up producing no CO2 the costs to the ratepayers will mean extracting billions of dollars from their wallets to pay for wind, solar and gas subsidies and will further shrink OPG and its value to the Province.

The Government seems determined to provide a McGuinty/Wynne legacy (“Today, all Ontarians can breathe a little easier,” said Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty in a statement on January 10, 2013) that will cost ratepayers billions in hard earned dollars and cause OPG to shrink even more. Some plan, some legacy!

Parker Gallant,
April 4, 2013



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