American electricity data – for a perspective on Ontario costs

Electricity prices, and costs are aspects of a project I’m trudging through working with electricity data from the United States. I’ve developed a Power BI report which probably deserves a lot slicker interface, but time is limited. This post offers directions on controlling the reporting, and adds some Ontario context to the graphics.

My primary intent was to create imagery of average monthly electricity cost, by state, for residential consumers. Rates get a lot of discussion, even more so in recent weeks, but I’m not convinced an isolated rate analysis is useful.

A recent Scientific American article featured a smart BI report by Abhilash Kantamneni ( @akantamn on Twitter ).

Dashboard 2

Due to an exchange on Twitter I’d had with Abhilash a couple of weeks ago, I wanted to build a view that showed both rates, and average monthly consumer costs – because it turns out these are much different things.

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Rant: Electioneering and the IESO

I used to have a writing process where if something annoyed me I’d write on it quickly, and then edit out all the anger. I generally figure readers shouldn’t have to deal with my anger – but it’s time for some Networking.

“…I’m not going to leave you alone.
I want you to get mad.
… all’s I know is you’ve got to get mad”

You’ve been forewarned.


 

The need to rant really started a while ago with reading a “Message from Peter Gregg” – the big DOWG at Ontario’s electricity system operator

A tournament, a tournament,
A tournament of lies. R.E.M.

Before moving to bigger disappointments I’ll start with the politicians.

Yesterday the Ontario Progressive Conservatives announced they’ll cut Ontario electricity rates by 12%. I was already mad when I read that, and I think it actually nudged me a little away from anger towards resignation. Tom Adams concluded a piece on the Conservative guarantee with:

There is no reason to expect an adult electoral debate about Ontario’s electricity future in 2018.

That’s true, but it was true before yesterday too.Read More »

8 ignominious Ontario electricity records

Some numbers I’ve compiled for the most recent periods of Ontario electricity consumption.

IESO weekly reports run from Wednesday to Tuesday – presumably because the market opened on Wednesday May 1st, 2002.

1 The week beginning on the 20th Wednesday of 2017, May 17-23, 2017, is the first one where the average Hourly Ontario Energy Price (HOEP), weighted to the system operator’s “Ontario Demand”, was negative.

post1

On average, it cost money to give away electricity

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Industrial wind turbines limited worth in lowering emissions

On my twitter feed this morning:

“I’d like to hear from on this.

“This” involved something about the value of wind, and what could be done to contain it.

 

I’ve written a lot on this in the past, and won’t do so again here except to explain the graph that accompanies this post – which explains what can be done to increase the value of the 20-year contracts Ontario’s thug Premier claims will have ongoing value.

It also explains why wind won’t, in the near future, be part of a near-zero emission electricity system anywhere not blessed with large hydro reservoirs.

IWT metrics

The graphic shows:Read More »

Solar’s near nil capacity value in Canada’s north

Alberta is issuing a Request for Proposal (RFP) for 135,000 MWh of “solar electricity”.  I think that’s a strange thing to buy, and pulled some Ontario data to explain why.

The amount is about 2.4 times the production from the 40 megawatt (MW) “Northland Power Solar Facilities” over the past 12 months, according to the hourly generator output and capability reporting of Ontario’s system operator. Those facilities are located in the area of Cochrane, Ontario. While very north from the perspective of most Ontarians, Cochrane is only slightly north of the 49th parallel which forms Alberta’s southern border.

I’ve pulled data for the Northland facilities and the Grand Renewable Energy Park near Cayuga Ontario, roughly 650 km south of Cochrane. July is usually the peak month for total solar generation, and January can be the least productive. I’ve compared by hour using capacity factor due to the different sizes of the facilities, and will also note Ontario systems can be overbuilt – for instance, Grand Renewable has about 140 megawatts (MW) of DC panel capacity behind a 100 MW (AC) connection point. For my measurement the contracted (connection point) capacity is used in calculating the capacity factor.Read More »

Negative pricing, and other, thoughts

A new post at the Energy Institute at Hass blog, Is the Duck Sinking?, discusses the growing appearance of negative pricing in California:

What do the negative prices tell us? At a fundamental level, they tell us that we have too much of a good and suppliers need to pay people to take it off their hands. Right now, California has too much renewable electricity. Emphasizing this point, a recent briefing from the California Independent System Operator [CAISO] noted that renewable “curtailments” were at record levels in March 2017, amounting to over 80 GWh, which is more than a typical day’s worth of solar production that month.

Is there anything to do about the negative prices? Negative prices certainly highlight the value of storage, where the basic idea is to buy low and sell high. Buying when prices are negative is especially lucrative…

Another solution is to expose more retail consumers to wholesale prices, or find other ways to encourage customers to respond to real-time prices. Economists have bemoaned the disconnect between wholesale and retail pricing for years…

If Catherine Wolfram’s post represents a significant concern for curtailments and negative pricing, it’s worth noting the situation in Ontario with Ontario’s system operator, the IESO.

It’s worth noting both because CAISO is noting the curtailment, and negative pricing, and it is acting on it.

This graphic, from the CAISO presentation noted above, shows monthly curtailment in their system:

CAISOcurtailment

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Ontario’s perceived electricity cost inflation

Why are Ontarians upset by electricity prices?

The other day I read a paper* that referenced 1997’s, “Direction for Change: Charting a Course for Competitive Electricity and Jobs in Ontario.” Skimming the document that moved the province towards the current assortment of public, private and toxic entities, I came across the following graphic within a section titled, “Ontario Hydro’s Unsatisfactory Business Record.”

Unsatisfactory.PNG

I thought, presumably as most do when seeing a graphic such as this, I should reproduce this work, and extend it to the present time. Not being overly ambitious, I simply use Consumer Price Index data (from CANSIM Table 326-0020), so my graphics will omit data from industrial entities; not being without curiousity I also grabbed data for average annual residential electricity prices (from the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) site).

A little math to reset the base years that will equal 100% and:

increased sharply.png

It’s not been a good 3 decades for Ontario electricity consumers.

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