CanWEA wrong on energy costs: wind, solar not low-cost

“Assertions are complete nonsense … only wilful blindness would suggest that wind and solar are low cost”

UWaterloo Prof Natin Jathwani, Executive Director Waterloo Institute for Sustainable Energy: Big Wind guilty of wilful blindness on energy costs?

Recently, energy analyst and occasional columnist for The Financial Post Parker Gallant wrote that the Canadian Wind Energy Association (CanWEA) was hitting back at allegations that wind power was contributing to Ontario’s rising electricity bills.
Ontario representative Brandy Gianetta said wind power was a low-cost energy source, and she referred to University of Waterloo professor Jatin Nathwani for support.
Trouble is, she was wrong.
Professor Nathwani took the time to correct CanWEA’s statements in an email to Parker Gallant, published on his Energy Perspectives blog today.
Here is Professor Nathwani’s email:

Dear Mr Gallant:

In your Blog, you have cited Ms. Giannetta’s post on CanWEA’s website on April 24, 2017 as quoted below:

Her article points to two articles that purportedly support the “myth” she is “busting,” but both require closer examination. She cites Waterloo professor Natin Nathwani’s, (PhD in chemical engineering and a 2016 “Sunshine list” salary of $184,550) article of March 6, 2017, posted on the TVO website, which supports Premier Wynne’s dubious claims of “a massive investment, on the order of $50 billion, for the renewal of Ontario’s aging electricity infrastructure.” Professor Nathwani offers no breakdown of the investment which suggests he simply took Premier Wynne’s assertion from her “Fair Hydro Plan” statement as a fact! It would be easy to tear apart Professor Nathwani’s math calculations — for example, “The total electricity bill for Ontario consumers has increased at 3.2 per cent per year on average” — but anyone reading that blatant claim knows his math is flawed!

First and foremost, the record needs to be corrected since Ms Giannetta’s assertions are simply incorrect and should not be allowed to stand.

If she has better information on the $50 billion investment provided in the Ministry of Energy’s Technical Briefing, she should make that available.

 The breakdown of the investment pattern in generation for the period 2008-2014 is as follows:

Wind Energy $6 Billion (Installed Capacity 2600 MW)

Solar Energy $5.8 Billion (Installed Capacity 1400 MW)

Bio-energy $1.3 Billion (Installed 325MW)

Natural Gas $5.8 Billion

Water Power $5 Billion (installed Capacity 1980 MW)

Nuclear $5.2 Billion

Total Installed Capacity Added to the Ontario Grid from 2008-2014 was 12,731 MW of which Renewable Power Capacity was 6298MW at a cost of $18.2 Billion.

For the complete investment pattern from 2005 to 2015, please see data available at the IESO Website.

In sum, generation additions (plus removal of coal costs) are in the order of $35 billion and additional investments relate to transmission and distribution assets.

I take strong exception to her last statement suggesting that the 3.2 percent per year (on average) increase in total electricity cost from 2006 to 2015 in real 2016$. The source for this information is a matter of public record and is available at the IESO website.

Ms Giannetta’s assertion is complete nonsense because she does not understand the difference between electricity bill and generation cost. Let Ms Gianetta identify the “blatant flaw.”

As for the electricity bill that the consumer sees, there is a wide variation across Ontario and this is primarily related to Distribution.

The Ontario Energy Board report on Electricity Rates in different cities provides a view across Ontario:

For example, the average bill for a for a typical 750kWh home Ontario comes is $130 per month.

In Toronto it is $142, Waterloo at $130 and Cornwall at $106. On the high side is Hydro One networks is $182 and this is primarily related to cost of service for low density, rural areas.

Your Table 2 Total Electricity Supply Cost is helpful and correctly highlights the cost differences of different generation supply.

Only wilful blindness on Ms Giannetta’s part would suggest that wind and solar are coming in at a low cost.

Warmest regards

Jatin Nathwani, PhD, P.Eng

Professor and Ontario Research Chair in Public Policy for Sustainable Energy

Executive Director, Waterloo Institute for Sustainable Energy (WISE)

Faculty of Engineering and Faculty of Environment Fellow, Balsillie School of International Affairs (BSIA)

University of Waterloo, Waterloo, ON

What's your reaction?


  • Richard Mann
    Posted May 4, 2017 6:16 pm 0Likes

    The problem is Wind and Solar are not reducing C02 and our government will not admit this costly failure. Ontario’s professional Engineers, those tasked with generation, transmission and billing, have reported the problem. our government continues to build more wind and solar.
    Reference: “Ontario’s Electricity Dilemma – Achieving Low Emissions at Reasonable Electricity Rates”. Ontario Society of Professional Engineers (OSPE). April 2015.
    (Archived at:
    Page 15 of 23. “Why Will Emissions Double as We Add Wind and Solar Plants ?”
    – Wind and Solar require flexible backup generation.
    – Nuclear is too inflexible to backup renewables without expensive engineering changes to the reactors.
    – Flexible electric storage is too expensive at the moment.
    – Consequently natural gas provides the backup for wind and solar in North America.
    – When you add wind and solar you are actually forced to reduce nuclear generation to make room for more natural gas generation to provide flexible backup.
    – Ontario currently produces electricity at less than 40 grams of CO2 emissions/kWh.
    – Wind and solar with natural gas backup produces electricity at about 200 grams of CO2 emissions/kWh. Therefore adding wind and solar to Ontario’s grid drives CO2 emissions higher. From 2016 to 2032 as Ontario phases out nuclear capacity to make room for wind and solar, CO2 emissions will double (2013 LTEP data).
    – In Ontario, with limited economic hydro and expensive storage, it is mathematically impossible to achieve low CO2 emissions at reasonable electricity prices without nuclear generation.

  • Sommer
    Posted May 5, 2017 9:10 am 0Likes

    Two Professors at the University of Waterloo standing up and setting the record straight! Thanks to both of them!

  • Richard Mann
    Posted May 6, 2017 4:41 pm 0Likes

    Please find below my letter I wrote to Huron County Health Unit in December, 2016. I just received news last week that they are still working on “ethics approval” the health investigation. This all began more than one year ago, in March 2016, when citizens appeared before their Health Board and a investigation was started.
    December 5, 2016
    Erica Clark, PhD
    Epidemiologist, Huron County Health Unit
    77722B London Rd., RR #5
    Clinton, ON N0M 1L0
    Dear Erica Clark,
    Thank you for taking the time to talk with me on Nov 29th.
    I wanted to follow up with a summary of how I became involved in this issue, the direction and current status of my research, and my position on the issue of study of, and response to, the human health effects caused by exposure to Industrial wind turbines.
    1: How I became involved.
    I first became aware of this issue in May of 2013 after reading a paper by Carmen Krogh dealing with adverse health effects caused by Industrial Wind Turbines (link).
    I came to believe that what was needed was a way to actually test consenting humans by exposing them to infrasound in a lab setting and to scientifically document the effects of this exposure.
    2: Direction and current status of my research.
    I started my research by working to develop the best infrasound recording method possible. In partnership with Professor John Vanderkooy, we developed a method of measuring infrasound from a single turbine, thereby isolating our results from the “clutter” of other turbines, wind noise, and other “pollutants”.
    We published our work and our paper was accepted for presentation at Wind Turbine Noise 2015, INCE/EUROPE, in Glasgow, Scotland in April 2015 (link).
    The next step was to design and build a method of producing infrasound in a lab setting. To be a useful research tool this infrasound needed to be identical to that produced by IWT’s.
    This required the mathematical and computational research necessary to generate Sound Wave output to an exact duplicate of input data, namely actual turbine recordings previously captured.
    This would finally allow others at the university, with appropriate medical training and ethics approval, to scientifically test and document the effects of infrasound produced by IWT’s on consenting humans.
    I received university funding for this research from both the Department of Computer Science and the Office of Research in October 2015 which has allowed me to proceed.
    My research over the next six months led to the building of prototype #1, a proof of concept device which was able to produce infrasound in a lab setting in the range produced by IWT’s, within a small test chamber.
    The system consists of 3 main components: a controllable pressure source, a modulation device that is responsive to input commands, and measurement, analysis, and recording technology.
    Prototype #2 is a fourfold scaled up chamber version of the proof of concept device and successfully produces infrasound in response to input commands. Prototype #2 is currently being used to refine design, data collection, and analysis.
    Work is currently well along on version #3, a full scale chamber, capable of accommodating a human subject. This will finally allow others at the university with appropriate ethics approval and medical training to test the effect of infrasound on consenting human subjects.
    3: My current position
    I have kept up to date on the most recent scientific evidence on harm in humans and animals relative to IWT’s
    There have also been many surveys and studies regarding human health effects related to Industrial Wind Turbine exposure. Sadly many of them have actually increased suffering by concluding that the subjects were imagining their symptoms, and by varying degrees, labeling them with the “It’s all in your head” designation.
    It is also of note that while many people did agree to participate in these surveys and studies in the hope that their concerns would be heard, they were certainly captive participants by being forced to live in proximity to the turbines.
    This leads me to my use of the word “ethics” and my beliefs regarding the study and information gathering of a captive group of humans who are currently living in proximity to potential health effects.
    I remember during my first year of engineering we were told about an oath and ring ceremony that professional engineers take prior to receiving their accreditation.
    These practices vary within different disciplines but two examples come readily to mind:
    The National Society of Professional Engineers (USA) states “Engineers, in the fulfillment of their professional duties, shall: Hold paramount the safety, health, and welfare of the public”.
    Professional Engineers Ontario states: “A practitioner shall, regard the practitioner’s duty to the public welfare as paramount”
    I believe as scientists and researchers, while we were not actually required to pledge to such an oath, we certainly have a basic moral obligation when we choose to interact with people who are suffering.
    At a minimum, this should be to clearly point out both the risks and benefits of interacting with us and to provide referrals to resources and other help related to their suffering. This should be the core principle of any such undertaking and certainly a legally mandated one by any board of health.
    Thank you again for taking the time to talk with me and if I can be of any help going forward please don’t hesitate to contact me.
    Richard Mann
    Associate Professor
    School of Computer Science
    Faculty of Mathematics
    University of Waterloo

  • Notinduttondunwich
    Posted May 6, 2017 4:51 pm 0Likes

    “Nominally, every hour it generates 1000 kWh. Remember that a kWh is a unit of energy, while W (whether kW or MW) is a unit of power (or energy / time). So 1MW * 1hour = 1MWh, or 1000 kWh. ONE THOUSAND Kilowatts is equal to ONE megawatt.”
    1000 KWh = 1 MW
    Average monthly home uses 750 kwh….
    We are currently exporting 2104 MW per hour….
    2104 MW x 1000 = 2 104,000 kwh….
    2 104,000Kwh ÷ 750kwh /month = 2804
    2804……. is this right?????
    2804 homes that could have had…. free power… for the month……
    In one hour we exported enough power to give 2804 ontario homes free hydro for one month…. in one hour?????
    Is this correct????

    • Bert
      Posted May 7, 2017 1:44 am 0Likes

      Yes, you are correct.
      Close to one third of the homes in Ontario could be powered with this exported electricity. Wasted curtailed and steamed of energy not included.
      Different approach, but the same outcome;
      750 kWh per month is is close to 1 kW per hour. 2,000 MWh electricity in Ontario is enough energy to power TWO MILLION homes.
      (2,000 MWh is 2,000,000 kW per hour)
      (750 kWh per month divided by 31 days divided by 24 hours gives 1 kW per hour)
      This is what you get if politicians regulate the energy market.

  • Stan Thayer
    Posted May 6, 2017 10:53 pm 0Likes

    Hey finally. Great math real math not the cosmic math they use with the windmills. I love the metaphor, so much exported compared to free power for Ontario homes. Great, keep it up.
    Now, we also have to pay someone to spin their generators and burn it off. The highest amount I have seen is 52 cents per kilowatt. Some days we export at a loss and import from Quebec at inflated prices. Kathleen Wynne just agreed to that contracted loss of our money two months ago with premiere Couillard of Quebec. To add salt to our wounds she also authorized Quebec contractors access to Ontario tenders.
    Nice eh?
    All this information is readily available but be warned, if you look at it to long you will break a tooth from growling so hard.
    Maybe do a highest and lowest export cost per month next time. Data goes back a lot of years.
    Imagine if hydro was free and we used what we wanted. There would be no need to pay export fees because there would be no surplus.
    Thanks so much.

  • Notinduttondunwich
    Posted May 7, 2017 9:01 am 0Likes

    The other math I use Stan is the lunch theory math…..
    If my home uses 1000 kWh per month and my bill is $395.00 ….
    $395.00 ÷ 1000 = .395 cents per kWh…
    Not .085 cents per kWh like hydro one says it is..
    If 4 people go out for lunch and the bill is $200.00 taxes and tip included….
    $200.00 ÷ 4 people = $50.00 per person..
    $50.00 per person……. nothing less … nothing more!!
    Simple effective math…

  • Notinduttondunwich
    Posted May 7, 2017 2:38 pm 0Likes

    This hour our government has given away for 3 cents/KWH… to NY…. MICHIGAN…. QUEBEC….
    enough power to supply 3100 homes with free power for 1 MONTH!!!!!!….

  • Notinduttondunwich
    Posted May 7, 2017 7:12 pm 0Likes

    So in 24 hrs I’ve watched the app and we have exported between 1500 and 2200 MW per hour.. for argument sale let’s call it 1750 MW as an averageish…..
    1750 MW x 1000 x 24 hrs = 42 000 000 kWh
    42 000 000 kWh ÷ 750 kWh/ mo. = 56000…
    56000 ….. ?…..
    Fifty six thousand homes could have had FREE HYDRO for a month…. 56000… that’s only today folks….
    So in one month we could give FREE HYDRO to….
    1 736 000 homes in Ontario…
    One million seven hundred and thirty six thousand homes….
    I keep saying it because I’m literally not believing the numbers ….. but it works out…..
    1 736 000 homes in Ontario could receive FREE HYDRO for an entire month ….
    and we pay someone already to get rid of that extra hydro… and they get a massive discount too….

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