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 ).
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.
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
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 »
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.
On average, it cost money to give away electricity
“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.
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 »
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:
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:
It’s not been a good 3 decades for Ontario electricity consumers.
written by Gary Mooney, and reproduced here with permission.
I contacted the Ministry of Energy by phone to ask if 20-year electricity generation contracts – e.g. wind and solar — were going to be extended to match the government’s new 30-year amortization period for capital expenditures.
The answer that I got back was:
* There will be no negotiations to extend contracts at this time.
* But generators will be offered the opportunity to continue producing electricity beyond the 20-year point, at the market price (or a negotiated price, not sure which was mentioned).
This is consistent with Minister Thibeault’s comment, in justifying a longer amortization period, that wind turbines have a useful lifetime of 30 years.
The idea of an extension of wind contracts will be a major concern to those living with turbines, as they have been expecting that the problem will go away after 20 years. And worse, if there are no negotiations now, these folks will have to live with uncertainty for anywhere from 10 years (the earliest contracts) to 20 years.
To make an extension of the amortization period work, the province needs continued power generation over the whole period out to thirty years, either:
Ladies and gentlemen, we are gathered here today to pay our respects to Ontario’s utility-scale wind industry, which has passed away from unnatural causes (a lack of government support).
Those of you knew who knew Ontario will recall it was a place of great passion for renewable energy. In just a short time, Ontario grew to become Canada’s leading wind province. And with the passage of its Green Energy and Green Economy Act of 2009 – which introduced North America’s first feed-in tariff – the province became a leader on the global stage. Those were good times. Soon after the act’s unveiling, global energy players, such as Samsung Renewable Energy and turbine manufacturer REpower Systems (now Senvion), as well as U.S. developers, such as Invenergy and Pattern Energy Group, set up shop north of the border. And Ontario was also an early pioneer of climate change. In 2014, the place rid itself of coal-fired generation.
You could continue reading at the wind site, but at this point let me remind you the industry did remarkably well considering it was born with neither a brain nor a heart.
It’s survivors seem to be similarly lacking in intelligence and empathy. Read More »
A standard LED bulb now costs only about $3, less if you buy in bulk or live in an area where they are subsidized by the local utility. And the LED uses 8.5 watts to produce the same amount of light as a 60-watt incandescent. The Department of Energy generally calculates costs based on assuming a light bulb is used 3 hours per day, but let’s be super conservative and assume it’s only used one hour a day. And let’s assume you pay the average residential retail rate for electricity in the U.S., 12.73 cents per kilowatt-hour. If that’s the case, then in the first year you would save $2.39, 80% of the purchase cost.
Better if you live in Ontario (Canada that is) – because the IESO and its couponing:
So the IESO will assure you get a full return on your LED lightbulb – don’t worry if you’ve got specialty bulbs that cost a little more, because the IESO gives you a little more for those.
Except, in the IESO’s world, you’ll likely end up down on the deal anyway.
Replacing all of the incandescents in your house is likely to save you $50 per year or more.
That may be true in California (where he is located), but in Ontario it isn’t enough to guarantee saving you anything.
Because Ontario has committed to purchase far more power than it consumes, there is no collective saving in conservation. What there can be is cost transfers.
Revising Borenstein’s statement above:
Replacing all of the incandescents in your house, and installing them in your neighbour’s house, is likely to save you…
It seems impossible to convince most people that the IESO’s wasting $400 million a year on conservation can only increase the total charged to consumers by $400 million because of today’s surplus.
Anybody know how to get that light bulb to go off?