Read it and weep: power system changes cost YOU


The current Ontario government is determined to make Ontario the most expensive electricity market in North America, with events being announced almost daily.  The following is just a sampling of how Ontarians are caught up in the worst planning to ever emerge in this or any province.

·                     The OPA ran a saveONenergy “symposium” in Sudbury and the keynote speaker was David Suzuki.  According to a contact at the OPA “Dr. Suzuki’s appearance at the saveONenergy symposium in Sudbury was organized and paid for by the Sudbury-area LDCs and not the OPA.”  Those local Local Distribution Companies were: Greater Sudbury Hydro, Hydro One and North Bay Hydro.  So ultimately the fee to Suzuki ($30/40 K?) goes to the delivery line on our hydro bills.

·                     Toronto Hydro customers just got a brochure last week that asks customers to sign up now for a FREE “peaksaver PLUS” energy display, “If you have an electric pool pump.”   First of all the FREE “energy display” is not FREE as it will form part of the Global Adjustment. But what is Toronto Hydro telling us?  Has global warming arrived and we can use a pool year round?

·                     Ontario added four times more wind capacity this year, so far, than the USA.  Wind developers love our subsidies and we love to hand out money. The Global Adjustment shows that wind is producing about 6% of our supply at the wrong time of the day and year but represents 11% of the Global Adjustment costs.

·                     I inquired the Ministry of Energy as to what constitutes a “large energy infrastructure project” (i.e.,; 1 MW, 5 MW or 10 MW) got this answer: “The recommendations do not specifically define ‘large energy infrastructure’ projects.”   That begs the question, Why go through the exercise of consultation unless “large” was defined ahead of time?

·                     Douments released under Freedom of Information revealed that Energy Minister Bob Chiarelli met with several environmental non-government organizations that were not registered with the Lobbyist Registry. I wrote the Office of the Integrity Commissioner and what I got back was the same form letter I had received two other times.  The only thing different was the date!  The letter says “the Act does not contain a complaint and investigation procedure” and “The main objective of the practice is to raise awareness and encourage compliance.”  Toothless.

·                     Trying to figure out the IESO’s “Adequacy Reports” on wind forecasts and the difference between the figures located in the “offered” and “scheduled” line caused me to ask if the difference was because we are now paying wind developers for not generating power.  The answer I received was “yes,” since September 11th we are paying them to constrain production.

·                     The recent price increase to our time-of use (TOU) rates caused me to do some math and relate it to what Energy Minister, Brad Duguid told us when he released the Long Term Energy Plan or LTEP and said electricity prices would increase by 46% by 2017.  It’s only 2013 and we are closing in on that forecast quickly: “off-peak” rates have gone up 41%, “mid-peak” rates up 35% and “high-peak” by 30%. Great forecast.

·                     Energy expert Tom Adams tried to obtain a “near-term forecast for Ontario’s overall power bill” from the OPA only to be told he must wait for the Long-Term Energy Plan, expected to be released by the provincial government shortly.  Expect another forecast that again misses the mark!

·                     An IESO report showed that all electricity consumers have been paying a “Renewable Generation Connection” charge for some time.  It is only about 15 cents a month if you use a MW of power, but doesn’t it seem strange that we pay wind and solar developers for not producing power but we still pay for them to be connected to the grid?

·                     Bet you were unaware that the OPA doesn’t just target the “billed consumer” to conserve electricity.  They target your children!  The OPA runs a website called “kids saveONenergy” that tells your children to tell their parents what to do, including telling them to ride their bike to work.  This site has links to the David Suzuki Foundation, OSEA and the Science Teachers Association of Ontario. The site tells them “wind and solar” are renewable energy; fossil fuels and uranium are not and “When they’re used to generate power, these sources produce waste and will eventually run out.”  Funny science as it doesn’t outline the bad stuff about wind or solar!

·                     Another recent revelation was that many municipalities got hit with big increases to  street lighting costs over the past few years and are converting to LED lighting which could drop consumption by up to 50% (about 500,000 megawatt hours) annually.  The effect will be to drive down peak demand in the middle of the night, causing more hydro spillage, steaming off at Bruce nuclear, and more gas plant costs to sit idle.  We will also pay wind developers for not producing as they will be constrained.

·                     From recent events it now appears that wind developers are getting nervous, perhaps fearing wind turbines may cause health problems and have aligned themselves with the Ontario Energy Storage Association (OESA).  Proof of this is found in CanWEA’s recent CanWEA2013 Conference where OESA were “co-located.”  OESA are also holding a conference in Sarnia November 20, 2013 presumably designed to convince Liberal politicians of the wonders of how Ontario could also subsidize them.  We are already doing that via MaRS Discovery District, a “charitable” provincial government creation that has received over $170 million of government funding, mainly from the Province of Ontario.

·                     On the issue of energy storage Tom Adams teamed up with Kathy Hamilton of Marmora to review the concept of “pumped energy storage” at the old iron ore mine.  The cost of that project to create 400 MW of pumped storage for 4-5 hours is estimated at somewhere between $660 to $700 million.  If that 400 MW operated once each year for the next 20 years the cost for each MWh would be $21,875.  Even if it operated 20 times annually the cost would be over $1,000 for each MWh!  Now that sounds, literally, like throwing money down the pit!

·                     One of the wind projects under construction currently is the McLean’s Mountain project on Manitoulin Island.  It will be powered by GE’s turbines and “The facility will benefit from around-the-clock remote monitoring and diagnostics through GE’s global wind monitoring center in Schenectady, N.Y.”  Now some may recall the excitement in the announcement by Brad Duguid, a former Energy Minister in March 2011 when Ontario handed GE $7.9 million of taxpayer money to build a “smart grid” centre in Markham.  It appears that the centre, which opened in 2012, is not smart enough to monitor those wind turbines being erected in Ontario.

·                     Yet another piece of fluff was the announcement about Hydro One’s new billing system telling us they have moved to “real-time.”  It appears to be purely a revenue grab and to have messed up their ability to “communicate” with some smart meters.  In Georgina Township and Prince Edward County they have been busy recently changing them for smarter meters.

There are many more really bad examples of Energy Ministry planning that could be highlighted but these are quite enough to underline the insane use of ratepayer and taxpayer dollars. If the Ontario Government continues to display a complete lack of planning ability while failing to incorporate a cost/benefit analysis in decision-making, Ontario is doomed never to crawl out of the “have not” pit we are now in.

Parker Gallant,

November 4, 2013

The opinions are those of the writer and not necessarily Wind Concerns Ontario policy.