In an effort to determine what track Energy Minister Chiarelli’s electric train is on I took a brief look at his ministerial forecast, “Achieving Balance”. My interest was piqued by a recent article suggesting China has put a chill on new wind power projects. As it turns out, China is having trouble because industrial wind turbines are “churning out power that’s being wasted” and they are being forced to curtail wind to ensure stability in some of the country’s grids.
Having recently noted the costs to Ontario ratepayers for just one day when power from wind was being curtailed, I decided to examine costs on a longer term. Thanks to Scott Luft, who does an incredible job of logging estimated curtailments of industrial wind turbines (IWT), I was able to determine the results for the final quarter of 2015. Total estimated curtailments for the Quarter ended December 31, 2015 were 434,750 megawatt hours (MWh).
An Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO) report released a couple of weeks age claimed IWT-generated 3.0 terawatts (TWh) in the last quarter of 2015, so, if one includes curtailed wind, ratepayers were obliged to pay for 3,434,750 MWh. That represents 93.9% of net exports (exports of 5.401 TWh less imports of 1.742 TWh) or 63.6% of gross exports.
What this means is that in the fourth quarter of 2015, wind-generated electricity was all surplus to our needs, without including steamed off nuclear, or spilled hydro!
The 3,434,750 MWh is estimated to have cost ratepayers approximately $460 million. The 3 TWh of electricity IWT delivered to the grid cost about $405 million and the curtailed cost was almost $55 million. During the quarter, the HOEP1. averaged $1.50/MWh, meaning if all of generated and curtailed wind was a part of the 5.4 TWh exported, it would have generated only a shade over $5 million —that would have reduced the cost to ratepayers to $455 million. With 92 days in the last quarter of 2015, the money paid by Ontario ratepayers averaged daily was almost $5 million.
Back to Energy Minister Chiarelli’s “Achieving Balance” long-term energy plan, we should be captivated by the promise made: “Significant ratepayer savings will be realized as a result of reduced Feed-in Tariff (FIT) prices, the ability to dispatch wind generation, the amended Green Energy Investment Agreement, and the decision to defer new nuclear.”
Clearly the “significant ratepayer savings” promised by Minister Chiarelli was for the benefit of our neighbours who purchase our surplus electricity at a fraction of the costs to Ontario ratepayers.
It is well past the time for Minister Chiarelli to look at China’s position and to cease any further procurement of IWT generation, or is the Ontario Liberal Party too dependent on party donations from the IWT developers as suggested in a recent article emanating from Queen’s Park?
April 5, 2016
- The Global Adjustment is not levied for exported electricity.
The views expressed are those of the author.