Wind farm opponents on Health Canada study: doesn’t coalesce with reality

Wind turbine opponents question results of Health Canada study

Patrick Raftis, Wellington Advertiser, November

WELLINGTON CTY. – Wind turbine opponents are questioning the results of a federal study on wind turbine noise and health impacts that concludes there is no evidence of a link between exposure to turbines and a wide range of adverse health effects.

The two-year, $2-million Health Canada study, released on Nov. 6, concludes there is no evidence to link wind turbine noise to self-reported illnesses such as dizziness, tinnitus and migraines, or chronic conditions such as heart disease, high blood pressure or diabetes. Likewise, no association was found between exposure to turbine noise and measures of stress such as blood pressure and heart rate.

Health Canada states the results also show no indication of a connection between turbine noise and self-reported or measured sleep quality.

“While some people reported some of the health conditions above, their existence was not found to change in relation to exposure to wind turbine noise,” states a summary of the study posted on the Health Canada website.

The study did find an association between increasing levels of wind turbine noise and “individuals reporting to be very or extremely annoyed.”  The study also found wind turbine annoyance to be “statistically related” to some health effects, including “perceived stress.” …

Wind Concerns Ontario (WCO) president Jane Wilson said her organization is not surprised by the study results.

“They always said from the beginning that it was just going to be a view of what was going on in Canada and they had hoped to, and I think they say that, add to the global pool of information on wind turbine noise. So they did that, and they did find some health effects,” Wilson said in a telephone interview on Nov. 7.

“The disappointment for us is they haven’t said explicitly … that they’re going to continue to monitor the situation and they have not said that they are going to be doing more research.

“We would have thought, given the level of concern in Ontario in particular, and the fact they did find over 16 per cent of people with problems, that they would have pledged to kind of keep going on this.”

Wilson said the study results conflict with the information her organization is receiving.

“We’re hearing weekly, if not daily, of people having to leave their homes and people having health problems … You look at this paper and those two things don’t necessarily coalesce as two realities.”

Wilson said wind power is costing Ontarians in other ways, some of which can lead to health impacts. She said it’s costing billions of dollars to produce “surplus” power utilizing wind turbines and that’s impacting people’s wallets.

“As electricity bills are going higher and higher, people are feeling poorer and there are actually some people we know who are saying ‘I have to make a choice between paying the heating bill and buying the amount of food that I’d like to.’ So we’re looking at that as a very serious economic impact of wind power in particular,” said Wilson, adding the link between poverty and health is obvious.

“Clearly if you are not able to pay for certain things, then that’s going to affect your health.”

She said WCO has already convened an expert panel to review “this study and whatever else we get from Health Canada,” and will be delivering comments back to the government agency within a few weeks.

David Hurlburt, vice-president of Oppose Belwood Wind Farm, says members of his group “weren’t too surprised” by the study findings.

“You know the political implications of all this is quite significant,” said Hurlburt. “We can’t understand how they arrive at these conclusions from the findings they got.

“We’re disappointed with their conclusions obviously, but we are encouraged by the findings around this whole thing of annoyance,” said Hurlburt, noting 16.5% of survey subjects in the Ontario portion of the study reported they were “highly annoyed” by wind turbines.

“To the common person I guess that doesn’t sound significant, but the high level of annoyance is actually recognized by the World Health Organization as an adverse health effect,” Hurlburt continued.

“The bottom line to all of this, especially in Ontario … They’re just putting these turbines too close to homes, it’s as simple as that, and that’s borne out in the study,” he said, explaining the study indicates the further the turbines are from homes, “the less the annoyance and less the implications.”

Hurlburt said linking annoyance, health effects and proximity to turbines in the study is advantageous to his group’s aims.

“Our message from our group and other groups in Ontario has got to be that if you’re going to build these turbines, place them further away from people’s homes. Our recommendation is two kilometres, but this report really supports at least one kilometre and currently Ontario’s got 550 metres as their setback, which is not enough.”

 

Read the full article here.

Transparency in Ontario government: hard to find

Can't see anything, Ontario? Good.
Can’t see anything, Ontario? Good.

Ontario ratepayers kept in the dark despite promise of transparency by Wynne

Premier Kathleen Wynne sent a letter on October 21, 2014  “To the people of Ontario” promising the following: “Our Open Government initiative will help create the transparent, accessible government that the people of Ontario deserve. Over the months and years to come, we’ll be bringing forward additional initiatives that will improve transparency, accountability, and connectivity.”

On the same day, the CBC reported:  “The Liberals are using their new majority to block attempts to get to the bottom of two of their biggest scandals involving cancelled gas plants and the Ornge air ambulance service”.

Almost one month earlier on September 25, Wynne sent a letter to Bob Chiarelli, Minister of Energy:  “We want to be the most open and transparent government in the country.”

Ontario’s taxpayers and ratepayers would welcome a little transparency.  For the electricity sector however, transparency is elusive.  Wynne’s refusal to have two key witnesses testify at the committee investigating the gas plant scandal is just one indication.

The insincere Liberal commitment to “transparency” can also be traced to the addition of solar generation to the electricity grid costing ratepayers hundreds of millions of dollars.  Finding out how much power this generation source contributes and costs is impossible.  Likewise, any wind generation project below 20 megawatts (MW) of capacity, and what it contributes to Ontario’s power production is unknown, yet each 19.9 MW of capacity cost ratepayers about $650,000 annually.  The Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO) doesn’t report on the generation and cost of 1,200 MW of imbedded solar or 400 MW of imbedded wind, despite what the $2 billion spent on “smart meters” cranking out data every millisecond.

Have the IESOs data standards have been severely compromised? A recent example of that compromise came to light when the writer conducted an analysis of IESO’s September 2014 Monthly Market Summary.  This 27-page report has information which one assumes is transparent.   The report details average, minimum and maximum hourly values of Total Market Demand, Ontario Demand, Weighted Average of the HOEP (hourly Ontario energy price), Imports & Exports, etc.  On page 22 of the report you find the total “Weighted Average” of the “market results”.

The latter is a summary of the pure commodity charge (HOEP + GA [Global Adjustment]),  the Wholesale Market Service Charges (Regulatory on our bills), the Wholesale Transmission Charge (included in the “Delivery” line on your bill) and the Debt Retirement Charge or DRC.

If one starts with the premise Ontario demand was 10,836,546 MWh (megawatt hours) on page 10, and multiply it by the total “Weighted Average” of $118.13/MWh on the “Report,” the total cost to the two ratepayer classes (Class A and Class B) for the commodity comes to $1,280,121,000 for the month. The total includes HOEP, GA, Wholesale Market Service Charges, the Wholesale Transmission Charge and the DRC.

In an effort to reverse audit the total GA for the month I deducted the following from that total:

To wit: $1,280,121,0001. less:

the HOEP of $15.54/MWh ($168,400,000),

the Regulatory cost of $4.56/MWh ($49,415,000),

the Wholesale Transmission Cost of $11.40/MWh ($123,537,000) and

the DRC Charge of $7.00/MWh ($75,856,000)

 

That should equal the total GA, which IESO indicates was $784.5 million!

It doesn’t!   In fact the number left ($863 million) is approximately $78.4 million more than the GA reported by IESO for the month.

My inquiry to IESO about why reverse balancing the GA didn’t work disclosed that they don’t differentiate the two ratepayer classes and the $78.4 million difference was simply what the Class A customers didn’t pay towards the total GA costs.  According to IESO, Class A ratepayers picked up $75.2 million of GA costs or less than 50% of what they should have.  IESO doesn’t publicize how many MWh are consumed by Class A customers so reverse balancing the monthly report is impossible.

Interestingly a January 2013 report prepared by Strategic Policy Economics carried the following message: “The current formula for the GA recovery assigns a Class B consumer rate that is almost twice that for Class A consumers. Furthermore, reductions in the HOEP translate to a higher Global Adjustment. While HOEP changes accrue equally to all rate payers, Class B rate payers bear a higher portion of the GA increase than Class A rate payers.”

What the non-payment of the $78.4 million and the above clearly highlight is, Class A customers pay considerably less per MWh of consumption than Class B and as the GA grows (as a percentage of the “commodity cost”), the burden borne by the Class B ratepayers increases.

IESO does not report on consumption by class of ratepayer. This lack of transparency was conveyed to the party responsible for preparation of the report. That individual agreed that the summary lacked transparency, and promised to bring this issue forward to more senior executives at IESO.

So Premier Wynne’s message “To the people of Ontarioand to her Energy Minister are simply hyperbole.  Transparency to Premier Wynne is a smokescreen.

©Parker Gallant,

November 10, 2014

The opinions expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily represent Wind Concerns Ontario policy.

 

1.  All multiplied by the “Ontario Demand” of 10,836,546 MWh.

Ontario’s billion-dollar boondoggle: wind power expensive, not needed

Planned devastation of Amherst Island ... and Ontario economy
Planned devastation of Amherst Island … and Ontario economy

Ontario hydro customers are trapped by the Wynne Liberals’ mad obsession with expensive and unneeded green energy

Lorrie Goldstein, Toronto Sun, November 8, 2014

TORONTO – For anyone who wants to understand what a complete mess Ontario’s Liberal government has made of our hydro bills, Parker Gallant is must reading.

A retired banking executive, he easily dissects and explains in English the never-ending nonsense the Liberals pump out to justify their green energy financial disaster.

An occasional Sun News Network contributor and newspaper columnist, Parker and Scott Luft, an energy analyst and blogger, published a report last week on energy pricing for Wind Concerns Ontario — an anti-wind turbine group — that was truly alarming. (See the executive summary and link to the Gallant-Luft report here.)

Titled: “October, 2014, Ontario’s breath-taking, record-breaking month for electricity bills”, Parker and Luft reveal that last month, Premier Kathleen Wynne’s Liberal government paid $1 billion more for electricity than the market value of that power.

Put another way, the so-called “Global Adjustment” in Ontario — the difference between the market value of electricity and what it actually cost to produce — topped $1 billion, for the first time, ever.

For the average Ontario household, Parker and Luft note, that will mean an extra charge of about $30 on November’s hydro bill alone, although it won’t appear as a separate item on many residential hydro bills because the Global Adjustment is incorporated into “time of use” rates.

The Liberals say the main reason for the Global Adjustment is to “cover the cost of building new electricity infrastructure … as well as providing conservation and demand response programs.”

But as Parker and Luft explain it:

“The situation has developed as a result of Ontario’s rush to incorporate renewable energy in the form of wind, solar and biomass into the grid, without proper planning on how this new capacity would align with demand.

“The result is that during the spring and fall seasons, when demand is lower, IESO (Independent Electricity System Operator) has a surplus supply capacity of over 100% during many hours of the day. Through the Global Adjustment fund, Ontario’s electricity consumers pay contracted generators to idle or curtail generation of thousands of megawatts.

“In October, wind power generators produced almost 600,000 MWh of electricity at a cost of $81 million and additionally were paid another $11 million for 100,000 MWh that they could have produced, but were asked not to add to the grid.

“Due to the glut of power in October, Ontario sold this power to neighbouring jurisdictions at an average of 4.31 per MWh, or $2.6 million, meaning a loss of almost $90 million for Ontario electricity users.”

Parker and Luft note these costs do not include the amount the government had to pay to the province’s privately-run nuclear operator not to produce electricity, because under the 20-year deals it signed with wind (and solar) operators, it has to buy their power first, meaning other sources have to be reduced when there’s a surplus of wind and solar .

Their advice to the Liberals is the same as energy analyst Tom Adams and University of Guelph economist Ross McKitrick gave in their recent report for the Fraser Institute, What Goes Up.

That is, at least stop making the situation worse by bringing more wind and solar power on line.

As Adams put it: “Wind and solar power systems provide less than 4% of Ontario’s power but account for 20% of the cost paid by Ontarians, yet the government wants to triple the number of wind and solar generators. That’s a good deal for wind and solar producers but a raw deal for consumers.”

(The Liberals insist wind and solar power only account for 8% of the cost of our energy bills — and that they were needed to close down polluting, coal-fired electricity. But that’s absurd because the Liberals didn’t replace coal power with wind and solar, but with nuclear power and natural gas).

Sadly, the longer the Liberals double down on their green disaster, the faster hydro rates are going to rise.

Even the Liberals acknowledged last year that hydro bills would jump 42% over the next five years.

Now-retired auditor general Jim McCarter produced similar numbers in his 2011 report that was sharply critical of the Liberals’ renewable energy programs, noting green energy initiatives would account for more than half (56%) of a 7.9% annual increase in hydro bills over the next five years.

Hydro rates were bumped up again on Nov. 1 and there’s no relief in sight.

Then again, Al Gore does think the world of the Liberals.

Read the full story and comments here.

October 2014: breaking Ontario’s record for electricity costs

October 2014: Ontario’s breath-taking, record-breaking month for electricity bills

Wind power significant in surplus power sell-off

Special report by Parker Gallant and Scott Luft

Summary:

New figures reveal that in October, the Ontario government paid $1 billion more for electricity than the electricity market value of that power.  Numbers released by the Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO)  show the Global Adjustment for the month of October topped $1.0 billion for the first time ever.  This estimate exceeds the September estimate by more than $200 million.

The record-breaking month will eventually affect all electricity users, but the immediate direct impact is on any electricity user holding a retail contract.  In November, they will be charged an additional 10.1 cents per kWh on top of their contracted price, likely in the range of 4 – 6 cents per kWh.  For an average household using 800 kWh per month, this would mean an extra charge of $80.  For industrial or agricultural users, the added cost would be much higher.

The situation has developed as a result of Ontario’s rush to incorporate renewable energy in the form of wind, solar and biomass into the grid without proper planning on how this new capacity would align with demand.  The result is that during the spring and fall seasons, when demand is lower, IESO has a surplus supply capacity of over 100% during many hours of the day.  Through the Global Adjustment fund, Ontario’s electricity consumers pay contracted generators to idle or curtail generation  of thousands of megawatts .

In October, wind power generators produced almost 600,000 MWh of electricity at a cost of $81 million and additionally were paid for another $11 million for 100,000 MWh that they could have produced, but were asked not to add to the grid. Due to the glut of power in October, Ontario sold this power to neighbouring jurisdictions at an average of 4.31 per MWh or $2.6 million, meaning a loss of almost $90 million for Ontario electricity users.

This estimate does not include the amounts paid to Bruce Nuclear for 400,000 MWh of “steamed off” nuclear production.  As wind power is guaranteed priority access to the grid under the Green Energy Act, other sources of production must be reduced in the event of surplus wind and solar power generation.

Despite this situation, Ontario continues to push for an expansion of unreliable wind power capacity.  Currently there are over 700 megawatts of capacity under construction, in the approval process, or the subject of various appeal procedures.  In each of these cases, the Ontario government has options to do the sensible thing and end these projects, saving Ontario electricity consumers from a 20-year commitment to the green energy folly. Instead, the Ontario Power Authority has plans to issue an RFP for an additional 300 MW of on-shore wind capacity in early 2015.

Parker Gallant and Scott Luft

See the full paper Gallant-LuftRecord-breakingOctoberNov5

Green energy and wind farms fleecing Ontario consumers

New study explains why Ontario has gone from affordable electricity rates to among the highest in N America. Photo: Bloomberg
New study explains why Ontario has gone from affordable electricity rates to among the highest in N America. Photo: Bloomberg

Ross McKitrick and Tom Adams, The Financial Post, October 30, 2014

Adding renewable generating capacity triggers changes throughout the system that multiply costs for consumers

Ontario’s green energy transformation – initiated a decade ago under then-Premier Dalton McGuinty – is now hitting consumers. The Nov 1 increase for households is the next twist of that screw. As Ontario consumers know all too well, the province has gone from having affordable electricity to having some of the highest and fastest-increasing rates in Canada.

Last year, in a report for the Fraser Institute called “Environmental and Economic Consequences of Ontario’s Green Energy Act,” one of us (McKitrick) explained how the Green Energy Act, passed in 2009, yielded at best tiny environmental benefits that cost at least ten times more than conventional pollution control methods, and was directly harming growth by driving down rates of return in key sectors like manufacturing.

But complex financial structures and a lack of official disclosure around large embedded costs have let supporters of the green energy act deny that green power is responsible for the price hikes. Green industry advocates, including the consulting firm Power Advisory and advocacy group Environmental Defense, have added up the direct payments to new renewable generators, and concluded that since those costs are relatively small, the impact of renewables on the total cost of power is likewise small.

However, such analyses ignore the indirect costs that arise from the way renewables interact with the rest of the power system. Adding renewable generating capacity triggers changes throughout the system that multiply costs for consumers through a mechanism called the Global Adjustment. Our new study, released Wednesday by the Fraser Institute, quantifies the impacts of different types of new generators on the Global Adjustment. The analysis pinpoints what causes the raw deal for consumers.

Here’s how it works: over the last decade, Ontario closed its coal-fired power plants and built a rapidly expanding portfolio of contracts with other generators including renewable energy companies producing power from hydro, wind, solar and biomass. These companies charge the Ontario Power Authority (OPA) higher-than-market-value prices for energy. To make up the difference, the OPA slaps an extra charge – called the Global Adjustment – on the electricity bills of Ontarians.

The Global Adjustment adds to the commodity portion of rates, which combined with charges for delivery, debt recovery, and regulatory factors constitute the overall rate. Elements of the Global Adjustment that are not disclosed include payments to generators to not generate, rates paid to historic non-utility generators, and costs for new hydro-electric developments.

Since 2007, the Global Adjustment has risen six cents per kilowatt-hour in inflation-adjusted terms, pushing up the commodity portion of bills by 50%. Not long ago, Ontario’s total industrial rate was less than six cents per kilowatt-hour. The rising Global Adjustment is by far the biggest driver of the resulting 21% increase in the overall average cost of power in the province over the period 2007-2013. The Global Adjustment’s upward path is a direct consequence of government intervention in the electricity market. Our analysis unpacking the costs of different types of generation shows that the consumer impact of new renewables substantially exceeds the direct payments to those generators by as much as 3 to 1. And renewables are a big part of the problem: Wind and solar systems provided less than 4% of Ontario’s power in 2013 but accounted for 20% of the commodity cost paid by Ontarians.

Getting to the bottom of the rate implications of adding renewables gained new urgency when Premier Wynne declared last month that the 2013 fleet of wind and solar will almost triple by 2021. This is an incredibly reckless decision. In his National Post column recently on the 2014 Ontario Economic Summit, co-chair Kevin Lynch, Vice-Chair of BMO Financial Group, stated bluntly “That Ontario has a serious growth problem is rather difficult to deny, or debate.”

What’s the solution? If the Province wants to contain electricity rate increases it needs to halt new hydroelectric, wind and solar projects. In order to reverse rate increases, the province should seek opportunities to terminate existing contracts between renewable energy companies and the OPA. Alas, as the Premier has indicated, that’s not where they’re headed.

Alternatives to costly new renewables include using some imported electricity from Quebec while Ontario refurbishes its nuclear power plants and maintaining 4 of 12 coal-fired power units at Lambton and Nanticoke that had been outfitted with advanced air pollution control equipment just prior to their closure, making them effectively as clean to operate as natural gas plants. Costly conservation programs encouraging consumers to use less electricity make particularly little sense these days in Ontario. Right now, Ontario is exporting vast amounts of electricity at prices that yield only pennies on the dollar, and also paying vast but undisclosed sums to generators to not generate.

Many European countries made costly commitments to renewable energy but are now winding them back. Germany is investing in new smog-free coal power generation. Environmentalists often suggested that following Europe is the way to go. Perhaps Ontario should consider following them now.

Ross McKitrick is a Professor of Economics at the University of Guelph and Senior Fellow of the Fraser Institute. Tom Adams is an independent energy consultant and advisor.

Ontario: wind farms contribute to $20-million power sell-off

Another $20-million autumn weekend with Ontario power sold off cheap to neighbouring states and province

Another October weekend has come and gone—and so has at least another $20 million of Ontario ratepayer dollars, due to selling off surplus Ontario power cheap.

This past weekend of October 24-26 saw Ontario sell off another 189,000 megawatt hours (MWh)  of electricity to our neighbours in Michigan, New York and Quebec.   Those MWh went for a song generating, $4.31 each and earning about $820K. The flip side is, ratepayers paid over $110 per MWh for that power generation.  We lost $106 for each MWh (10.6 cents per kilowatt hour); that means the subsidized cost of those megawatt hours  was over $20 million, or a one-time hit of about $4.50 for each of Ontario’s average electricity ratepayer.  The trouble of course is that it is not a one-time hit, as this situation occurs frequently during spring and fall when demand for power is low.

Included in that $20 million we paid to export our surplus is the cost for the spasmodic production of electricity from thousands of industrial wind turbines throughout the province and, presumably, some solar production.   Wind turbines produced over 52,000 MWh Octover 24-26, and wind power producers were paid for not producing another 17,000 MWh.   That 69,000 MWh cost Ontario’s ratepayers half of the $20 million. It doesn’t  include what Ontario Power Generation spilled in hydro, what gas generators were paid to idle, or what Bruce Nuclear was paid to steam off nuclear power.

What this past weekend and others before it should be telling the Ontario Liberal government and the Minister of Energy Bob Chiarelli is that Ontario’s ratepayers are consuming less of this expensive commodity.  Premier Wynne’s  “Conservation First” initiative, as Tom Adams notes in a recent post titled “Crock of Conservation,” has driven demand down but the energy ministry keeps adding more inefficient renewables to Ontario’s grid.

During the past weekend, Ontario exported 20% of its average electricity demand.   If each Ministry of the Ontario government wasted 20% of their budget, the main stream media might pay attention but it seems that the Minister of Energy is allowed to waste ratepayer dollars without any serious oversight because the money is simply extracted, without effect on the Ontario deficit.

We can only hope for the day when it is recognized that ratepayers are also taxpayers, and that their money is being wasted with regularity due to Ontario’s energy policy.

©Parker Gallant,

October 27, 2014

WCO: wind farms cannot fulfill environmental promises

Wind Concerns Ontario is mentioned in an article on Forbes.com, referring to the Hatcher Report, on the need for fossil-fuel back up for wind power…which means it can’t really fulfill all the wonderful promises made for it.

The Nuclear Gap In Obama’s Clean Power Plan

If we want to arrest climate change, all we need are more renewables like wind and solar, right? Not exactly, according to a newly published Canadian report on lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions (“GHG”). In fact, the report, which is based on 246 studies covering various power generation scenarios and constraints, concluded that nuclear power beats wind and natural gas on an ‘apples-to-apples’ basis for battling climate change.

Full disclosure: The report, from Hatch Ltd., a Toronto-based consultant, was commissioned by the Canadian Nuclear Association. It compares lifecycle GHG emissions from nuclear power, natural gas-fired power, and wind power, all the way from fuel extraction through to plant construction, operation, and decommissioning.

How is possible that nukes have a smaller carbon footprint than the wind-natural gas duet? Well, wind power is intermittent and needs back-up from natural gas-fired electricity. Nuclear is a 24/7/365 power generation with zero carbon emissions. This is no back-of-the-envelope calculation. The methodology used by Hatch was in conformance with ISO 14040, the international standard governing lifecycle assessments. You can read more about the solid methodology on pages 2 and 3 of the report.

Wind turbines are a great source of energy, but a Canadian nuclear industry study raises questions about whether they're the only solution.

When the wind blows, wind turbines are a fine source of GHG-free energy. But a Canadian study suggests that nuclear power is a more reliable solution.

Below is some meat from the report itself:

On average, emissions from wind and nuclear are similar within the accuracy of the study for all emissions except GHG emissions, where wind produces distinctly less GHG emissions on average than the combination of nuclear technologies considered.

No surprise there. But let’s dig a little deeper. Nobody disputes that wind is an intermittent power source. Hatch says that in a typical wind-natural gas hybrid, wind makes up 20% of the generation mix, with natural gas shouldering the other 80%.

If you’re wondering how much less GHG emissions are coming from nuclear power generation than the wind/natural gas duo, Hatch says a lot. In fact, per kilowatt-hour of generation nuclear power emissions are 18.5 grams of GHG, while emissions for wind backed by natural gas are 385 grams of GHGs. That’s 20 times more GHGs for the wind backed by natural gas scenario.

Hatch’s numbers may even be on the conservative side. Because wind comes and goes, backup generating plants have to cycle up and down more often. This stop-and-start cycling burns up more feedstock and increases emissions across the board. Bentek, a Colorado energy analytics firm, found that 1,327 such cycling events happened in Colorado in 2009, which released up to 6.8 million pounds of extra sulfur dioxide (“SO2”), 3.1 million pounds of nitrogen oxide (“NOX”), and 147,000 pounds of carbon dioxide (“CO2”).

The Canadian Wind Energy Association has criticized the report’s focus only on one power generation scenario: wind and natural gas in tandem. The Association says, “There are many potential mixes that can facilitate significant amounts of wind energy penetration in Canada and the vast majority of them are much less greenhouse gas intensive than the scenario described in the study.”

On the other hand, Wind Concerns Ontario, a coalition of individuals and grassroots citizens groups that advocates for responsible, environmentally sound solutions to energy issues, says that, “We share [Hatch’s] concerns on this issue and have been speaking about this for years. We have taken advice from engineers in the power industry, who say that wind power cannot fulfill any of the environmental benefit promises made for it, because it needs fossil-fuel backup.”

So what does all of this mean, especially to us down here in the U.S.? If we have any hope at achieving success at lowering GHG emissions, all renewables and clean energy sources have a role to play, including nuclear power, and we have to get that right by treating them equally.

The Clean Power Plan calls for a near 20% reduction in U.S. carbon emissions from 2012 baseline levels by 2030. But here’s how the Clean Power Plan works—or doesn’t work, in the case of nuclear power. The draft rule sets forth an emissions rate baseline of CO2 emitted per megawatt-hour of fossil fuel generation. Each state can then lower that rate using the various so-called building blocks provided in the draft rule, which include: (1) tweaking fossil plants to be more efficient; (2) changing dispatch patterns of power sources so lower GHG plants are used more frequently; (3) using more zero and low-emitting sources like renewables (wind, solar, and geothermal) and nuclear; and (4) implementing energy efficiency measures. The draft rule allows for a 100% credit for all existing wind, solar, and geothermal sources, but only a 6% credit for nuclear. There’s no room at the inn for the other 94% of nuclear.

It’s puzzling why the Clean Power Plan is drafted this way given the key role that experts say nuclear will need to play in getting us anywhere close to the goal set forth in the Plan itself.  Even more puzzling is that another federal agency, the Energy Department, has scenarios that project the retirement rate of nuclear as high as 33%. Even the Clean Power Plan’s own 6% figure for retirement would increase atmospheric emissions from 200 million to 300 million tons in the next ten years.

Nuclear power is the work-horse of power supply and of zero-carbon generation.  Nuclear plants operate around the clock in all weather, providing nearly 20% of the nation’s electricity supply and comprising about 63.3% of all clean (zero carbon emissions) energy, which is more than all other clean energy sources put together.

In formulating the final rule, the Environmental Protection Agency would do well to take a look at the Hatch report, seriously consider its findings, and put nuclear on par with other zero carbon generating sources.

Michael L. Krancer is Partner & Energy, Petrochemical and Natural Resources Practice Group Leader at Blank Rome LLP and a former secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection. His blog, Energy Trends Watch, follows developments in energy, petrochemical and natural resources.

See the full article online here.

Ontario weekend weather forecast: cloudy with 100% chance of lost millions

Almanac

Selling off surplus power: Loss, loss, and more losses

Ontario was once again busy exporting surplus power on the weekend of October 17-19. For every MWh (megawatt hour) we exported, we generated revenue equivalent to purchase one small “Timmies” coffee.  How bad was it? A MWh sold at an average price of $1.58 on the HOEP (hourly Ontario electricity price) market, but Ontario’s ratepayers paid upwards of $110 for that same MWh.   The beneficiaries of that cheap price were the electricity companies in New York, Michigan and Quebec.

That same weekend Ontario exported 186,000 MWh at a cost of about $20.4 million and sold it for $300K; the net cost to Ontario’s ratepayers was $20.1 million. That is without factoring in: the costs of constraining wind (around 10,200 MWh at a cost of $1.1 million) and solar, spilled clean hydro, steaming off Bruce Nuclear (around 70,000 MWh at a cost of $4.2 million), and the gas plants paid to simply idle!  The constrained and curtailed generation probably equaled or came close to the cost of the exports.

From the perspective of the ruling Liberal party in Ontario, the good thing about the cost of those exports is it doesn’t directly increase the deficit—it’s the ratepayers picking up the cost of the subsidy. Nevertheless, they should be aware that extracting the cost of a cup of coffee each day for the purpose of subsidizing exports takes away cash that those ratepayers could spent on other local goods. Removing that cash from our pockets makes the climb out of the high unemployment rates and the reduction of Ontario’s deficit much tougher.   No economist would or could dispute that!

The contracted developers of wind power produced 68,900 MWh on the three days, representing 37% of the total exported MWh. That generated $9.3 million of revenue for the owners, plus $1.1 million for constrained generation.  They operated at about 34.5% of capacity (40% if one includes constrained power) during that time-frame.

If wind power exports were a regular event for Ontario, the costs of just the wind exports would be $3.4 million daily and about $1.2 billion for a full year.

Imagine what $1.2 billion could have paid for—every year for 20 years.

©Parker Gallant,

October 23, 2014

Ontario Energy Board: strange math behind time-of-use pricing

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Magic tricks: how the OEB explains electricity bill increases

The Ontario Energy Board’s (OEB) news release of October 16, 2014 tells us that our rates will once again increase on November 1, 2014, but only by 1.7% on the total bill. In their Backgrounder, the OEB tells us that  “Electricity prices make up about half the total of an average household bill.”

If they are telling us they have increased “electricity prices” they should be explaining how much rates are going up in dollars and percentages, and not relate it to the total bill—but maybe that’s a way to lessen the visual impact.  If they were truthful they would annualize the increase.  If they had done that, the story would then be that the electricity portion of our bills has increased 13.2%, measured from the prices applicable on October 31, 2013.

The On-peak rate as of October 31, 2013 was 12.4 cents/kWh and effective November 1, 2014 will be 14 cents/kWh. That’s an increase of 12.9%.  Mid-peak rates one year ago were 10.4 cents/kWh and on November 1, 2014 will be 11.4 cents/kWh, an increase of 9.6%. Off-peak rates will jump to 7.7 cents/kWh from 6.7 cents/kWh, an increase of 22.3%.

Taken together, those increases in the price we pay for electricity increased 13.2 %, or $8.87 a month, and $106.44 for a full year.

OEB not coming clean

The OEB has also never come clean about the requirement to no longer include “line losses” on the electricity line of ratepayers’ bills.  That should have driven time-of-use/TOU pricing down by 5.2%, but didn’t!  Those line losses, effective August 2013 should have reduced electricity costs and increased the delivery line on ratepayers’ bills by an equivalent amount, yet were “forgotten” in the explanations offered by the OEB.  The 5.2% line loss reallocation would represent 33.3 kWh on an average (800 kWh) monthly ratepayer bill. In dollar terms, that’s a $3.95-per-month decrease or $47.40 annually—but it didn’t.  Taken together, the hidden line loss increase, coupled with the approved OEB increase, raised average electricity prices by $12.82 monthly or $153.84 annually.

In just one year, the 4.6 million residential ratepayers in Ontario will have had another $707.7 million removed from their disposable income just to cover the cost of electricity. That’s way over the rate of inflation.  Added to that will be the dollars extracted for rate increases for distribution and regulatory charges for  the other “half the total of an average household bill.

Energy poverty in Ontario

For stay-at-home parents, seniors living on fixed incomes, or the disabled, the increases will affect their ability to simply put food on their tables!

Time for the OEB to come clean with ratepayers and issue “transparent” news, rather than abuse the ratepayers by hiding the true costs of the “greening” of Ontario with wind and solar intermittent generation.

©Parker Gallant

October 19, 2014

The opinions expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily represent Wind Concerns Ontario policy.

 

 

Ontario’s expensive electricity week: what could $44M have bought?

What the lost $44 million could have bought: 293 family docs, 580 nurse practitioners
What the lost $44 million could have bought: 293 family docs, 580 nurse practitioners

Blowing Ontario’s ratepayer dollars

Money lost in just one week could have paid for 580 nurses

So far this October, Ontario’s electricity sector has been blowing our money away at an awesome pace.

Scott Luft, whom I admire for his ability to assimilate comprehensible data, posted on Tumblr some disturbing information about the first 10 days of electricity production (and curtailed production) in Ontario.  Because the fall means low demand for electricity, our current surplus energy supply (principally, wind, solar and gas) was curtailed to the extent that it cost ratepayers $20 million, while the HOEP (hourly Ontario energy price) generated only $8.2 million.  That $20 million of curtailment cost will find its way to the Global Adjustment (GA) pot and onto ratepayers’ bills.

I took a different route and looked at the cost of Ontario’s exports for the week of October 3rd to October 9th —those numbers are also disturbing.  During those seven days, Ontario exported 399,048 MWh (megawatt hours) which was 15.7% of total Ontario demand.   Wind turbines generated and delivered 184,204 MWh, which was surplus to our needs and probably exported.  The money generated via the HOEP from all of the export sales was $56,300 or 14 cents a MWh.  Wind turbines produced just $15,164 and we sold that production for just 8 cents a MWh.

To put this in perspective, the exported production’s cost all-in (contract value per MWh + regulatory + transmission + debt retirement charge) averaged $110/MWh, according to the latest monthly IESO Market Summary August 2014 report’s findings.  Using $110/MWh the 399,000 MWh exported in those seven days hit Ontario’s ratepayers with about $44 million (less the $56,300) via allocation to the GA—that will show up on the electricity line on our bills.

Wind generation alone at the contracted rate of $135/MWh cost ratepayers $24,900,000 plus another $5 to $6 million for their curtailed production, according to Scott Luft.  That $30 to $31 million plus the cost of steaming off Bruce Nuclear, paying idling gas plants, etc., and the additional cost of solar generation, would confirm the $44 million is a reasonable estimate.

What has Ontario missed out on by having ratepayers subsidizing those exports by $44 million for those seven days?

  •  the annual salary of 293 family physicians, or
  • 580 nurse practitioners, or
  • repairing all the Toronto District School Board’s school roofs, or
  • one and a half days of interest on Ontario’s public debt, or
  •  all of Ontario’s 301 MPP salaries for a full year, or
  • 40 MRI machines, or
  • 100 months of mortgage payments on the empty MaRS Phase 2 building, or
  • increasing funding for autistic children by 30% over current levels.

Just a few examples of how the wasted subsidy money that cost each Ontario ratepayer $10 for just one week could have been used!

© Parker Gallant

October 13, 2014

The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily represent Wind Concerns Ontario policy.