Out of sync: power demand and wind power in Ontario
…and Ontario electricity ratepayers pick up the tab, as last weekend’s $17-million demonstrates, says Parker Gallant
Wind trumps Darlington and ratepayers pick up the bill
The love affair the current Ontario government has for industrial wind turbines (IWTs) took a turn for the worse recently. Because wind power from turbines appears at high level in the Spring and Fall seasons (when demand for power is low), Ontario was forced to shut down a Darlington nuclear reactor with a rated capacity of 880 MW.
The Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO) claims that “wind curtailment” (or preventing wind power from reaching the grid when it’s not needed) helps to avoid nuclear shutdowns, the past weekend dispelled that notion. The shutdown of Darlington G 4 and the frequent steaming off at Bruce Nuclear is due to wind forecasts combined with low demand, and “first to the grid” rights given to IWTs via the Green Energy Act.
On April 9 and 10 wind turbines could have generated over 81,000 megawatt hours (MWh) of power, but IESO curtailed over 29,000 MWh on that typical “shoulder season” weekend in Ontario. Demand was low and averaged about 350,000 MWh over the two days. As a result, export of power to Michigan, New York and elsewhere was about 77,000 MWh, or almost the full amount that wind would have generated without curtailment, and about half of what the Darlington unit could have provided.
Those surplus exported MWh generated revenue of $3.65/MWh on April 9 and a miserly 6.5 cents/MWh on the 10th producing revenue of about $144,000. That was for electricity billed to ratepayers at close to $120/MWh for a cost of about $9 million. At the same time Ontario ratepayers were picking up the costs of that shut down Darlington unit, which added about $3 million to the weekend’s costs.
$12 million price tag for Ontario electricity customers
In short, Ontario ratepayers had their pockets picked for $12 million for power they didn’t need or demand.
Additionally ratepayers were paying gas plant generators over $5 million just to idle in case the wind stopped blowing or the sun disappeared behind the clouds. That’s a price tag of $17 million for power that wasn’t needed.
To sum up the weekend Ontario ratepayers were:
- Subsidizing the sale of surplus electricity to our neighbours
- Paying for the curtailment of wind generated electricity
- Paying for power that a nuclear plant might have produced, and
- Paying for gas plants to idle.
Ontario ratepayers’ energy demand and wind’s inability to deliver at the right time are becoming more and more out of sync. The cost to ratepayers keeps going up, without any visible benefit. Time for Minister Bob Chiarelli to stop hobnobbing with Big Wind lobbyist CanWEA and pay attention to his abysmal management of the Energy portfolio.
© Parker Gallant,
April 12, 2016
Left to right: CanWEA President Robert Hornung, The Honourable Bob Chiarelli, Ontario’s Minister of Energy and Bruce Campbell, the President and CEO of Ontario’s Independent System Operator (IESO) at the CanWEA Spring Forum in Gatineau, QC, on April 5, 2016. Photo by Teckles Photo Inc.