Tom Adams on wind and solar: none of this is working

From today’s Financial Post, Tom Adams and Kathy Hamilton on the latest Big Ideas for renewable power in Ontario.

Ontario’s latest electricity scheme: Pumped energy storage

For ratepayers, none of this is working. Wind and solar are not just unreliable. Ratepayers pay unaffordable prices for their chaotic output. Adding the cost of storage puts ratepayers in double jeopardy.
Daniel Acker/Bloomberg 
 

As the Ontario government’s $1-billion gas plant relocation scandal slips into history, the province’s electricity ratepayers should not assume that the era of big-ticket rate-boosting power projects of questionable value is a thing of the past. Now comes the “Smart Grid” and a host of other projects.

  Smart Grid is the new fad taking over power industry policy everywhere — it’s a flexible concept that gives utilities, contractors and governments room to justify ratepayer spending on “Smart Meters,” electric cars, power line automation and the new hot idea of electricity storage.

None of these ideas comes cheap, including pumped electricity storage, a plan making its way through the province’s electric industrial complex. Pumped storage was traditionally used where excess low-cost electricity was available during low-usage periods. The economic logic was that cheap excess power justified the cost of recapturing a portion of the excess for later use.
  Ontario Power Generation operates a pumped storage facility near Niagara, built when Ontario anticipated excess nuclear production. Although it wastes one unit of electricity for each unit finally delivered, the storage system reserves some of the nightly water flow over Niagara for daytime use. This time-shifting optimizes power production by the main generators, while maintaining the scenic daytime water flow over Niagara Falls as required under international agreement. If this were stand-alone pumped storage, ratepayers would fare better with it closed.
   But a new pumped storage proposal is under active deliberation around the eastern Ontario village of Marmora. The proposal comes from Northland Power for a stand-alone, 400-megawatt pumped storage facility at the abandoned Marmoraton Mine, on property owned by Aecon Construction. Project cost: Somewhere between $660-million and $700-million.
  The Marmora project was endorsed by local council members without public notice. With local people in the dark, Northland Power announced it was “very excited to have the support of the people of Marmora.”
 …

Read the full article here.

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