A recent article authored for the Financial Post outlined the costs to ratepayers of renewable energy. Those costs are partly a result of the passage of the Green Energy and Economy Act by the incumbent prorogued Provincial Liberal Government. The article drew the following letter to the editor which follows in its entirety:
Letters to the Editor: Financial Post website January 21, 2013
“It’s about coal
Parker Gallant criticizes the energy policies of the past 10 years on the basis that, for all the associated costs, they failed to actually increase Ontario’s total electricity generation capacity. These expenditures, however, were never intended to buy increased capacity. The part of Ontario’s power plan all political parties support is that we need to correct our supply mix, by getting out of coal.
Eliminating coal has been recommended by engineering economists of all stripes, from China to Germany, due to health and ancillary costs to taxpayers.
This province has been chronically oversupplied with electricity at night and in the winter when demand is low, but under supplied on summer days when demand peaks. The twin initiatives of eliminating coal-fired generation while embracing the peaking technology of solar represent a solid step towards bringing our supply portfolio in line with our consumption needs without further increasing our oversupply during times of low-demand. This is not just an effective way to optimize energy capacity, but a solid investment in Ontario’s economic future.
Peter Goodman, chief executive, Solar Power Network, Toronto”
As the readers will note this letter highlights the fact that the province is “chronically oversupplied with electricity at night and in the winter when demand is low, but under supplied on summer days when demand peaks.” The writer attempts to make the case for “solar” as having the ability to bring “our supply portfolio in line with our consumption needs without further increasing our oversupply during times of low-demand.”
What the letter writer highlights is the inference that the supply mix is wrong. Interestingly enough wind is notorious for producing power when we don’t need it-the middle of the night and during blustery winter days as the recent weekend demonstrated, when for many hours wind was producing at 80/90% of its capacity while we were exporting nearly 3,000 MWs per hour to our neighbours and in several hours paying them to take that power.
Had the author added the Spring months to his letter we would have known he was completing the annual wind cycle. By adding the fact that Ontario is “under suppliedon summer days when demand peaks.” indicated his bias towards solar and his unspoken condemnation of wind. The Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO) reported that in April 2012 (a low peak demand month) wind operated at 41% of its capacity but in June of 2012 wind produced electricity at only 14% of its capacity showing clearly it produces when we don’t need it and fails to produce when we do.
The remark about the reasons we are adding renewables, identified as; “getting out of coal” was referenced in the FP article and in numerous recent articles highlighting the fact that coal production in 2012 was only 4.3 Terawatts and principally was produced on those hot summer days when wind turbines were sometimes operating at less then 1% of capacity (July 9, 2012 at 12 PM wind was producing 16 MW) while coal was producing 1,822 MW. Without fossil fuel production on that particular day Ontario may have faced blackouts due to the vagaries of wind generation.
Perhaps its time for our Energy Minister to issue a directive to the Ontario Power Authority instructing them to curtail the signing of any more wind contracts and to cancel any that have yet to receive transmission approvals from Hydro One and/or licences to kill harm and harass birds and bats from the Ministry of Natural Resources!
January 21, 2013