The IESO’s June mistake, and the July victims

Ontario’s electricity system operator (IESO) made a mistake in June.

In July they made it better for themselves in a way that specifically punished one set of consumers – Class B ones not covered by Regulated Price Plans (RPP). The OEB’s lacklustre oversight in recent years continues to harm this same set of consumers. This will be a wonkish post but if you’re connected with a company with a substantial electricity bill, it will alert you to probable overcharges.

This situation should be difficult to explain, because I’ve had friends questioning the IESO on it for half a year and I haven’t seen any evidence that a fulsome explanation is pending. That may be due to the beginning of the tale.

2017 IESO global adjustment consumption page on Feb 10

The beginning was the final global adjustment calculations the IESO made for June 2017. They erred in calculating total consumption. The inability of the organization to admit that, along with the regulator’s (OEB) disinterest in monitoring the IESO’s collection of global adjustment charges, is why confusion persists.

I noted on Twitter when the figures were released that they made no sense. To explain why requires getting into some obscure details.

  • the IESO reports “Ontario Demand” hourly, but that figure is essentially demand for supply from their market participants,
  • the IESO elsewhere reports a summary breakdown of this figure as “Monthly Energy Demand” which shows some of that figure is “Generator Consumption” and some is “Losses”,
  • the IESO has not reported on generators embedded in the Local Distribution Companies (LDC’s) it services, but in the past couple of years it has noted monthly distribution-connection (Dx) figures in it’s 18-Month outlooks,
  • the Global Adjustment process requires knowing the share of consumption for each consumer, so that reporting includes a “consumption” figure .

If you took the time to subtract out the generator consumption and losses from the IESO’s reporting of “Ontario Demand”, and added the embedded generation, you’d find you were usually about 1% short of the consumption as shown in the global adjustment reporting.  In June 2017 the difference was far greater:

Consumption mistake_

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Worthless and worse wind

My friend Parker Gallant has written on my updated estimates of annual curtailment in Wind waste should worry Ontario ratepayers.  Producing the estimates doesn’t take me nearly the effort Parker puts into writing on them, so I felt compelled to add a new view of the data just to make our contributions a little more equitable.

The French language Radio-Canada has posted AU PAYS DE L’EAU NOIRE
Des résidents en Ontario vivent un cauchemar depuis l’installation d’éoliennes proches de leur domicile. I assume it’s best read in French, but the Google translation to English sufficed for me. As the journalism at Radio-Canada is more focused on the impacts to people of turbine construction of the North Kent wind farm, I decided today’s show of data will be on the performance of individual industrial wind turbine facilities.

Capacity Factor is the output of a generator divided by the theoretical maximum (full output in all hours). To estimate costs I need to estimate curtailment, but just viewing the history of capacity factors has the benefit of allowing the cynical reader (ie. the good ones) to verify my claims just by adding up columns from the IESO’s wind file. I won’t make it easy to do though, because for fairness I limit results to years where a facility was in commercial operation throughout, and to compare 2017 results I’ve made all years’ data the total as of the end of November.

NovYTD_CFs

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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 »

behind the bad Ontario electricity news

The Globe and Mail published an article by its Ontario legislative reporter Justin Giovannetti, In Ontario, hydro’s future gets murkier as costs of leaving the grid decline. The article posits, “a future where Ontarians produce their own power and cut the cord to the wider grid appears to be approaching.”

It’s a very bizarre assortment of factoids that supports the proposition.

Often stories are planted. I mean no disrespect to Mr. Giovannitti when I say this little fact is planted by somebody promoting a story:

…Feb. 18 could be seen as the start of the province’s electrical transformation. On that Saturday, with the sun blazing and a strong wind powering turbines, demand for electricity from the province’s traditional generating stations was actually lower in the busy middle of the day than it had been when most people were sleeping hours earlier.

That is a possible description of what happened that February Saturday. It was the first day since 2003’s blackout where mid-day “Ontario demand”, as defined by the system operator, was the day’s lowest – which is not a fact many would know how to locate. It’s only happened once since – on Friday April 14th, 2017, which the pious among us will recognize was Good Friday. The situation signalling the start of a transformation has occurred twice as often as the event that occurred on the third day following Good Friday – and the claim is the reprecussions of this event will be of similar significance.

On February 18th my daily estimates show 64.7 gigawatt-hours dumped on export markets, 32.5 GWh curtailed altogether, and 337 GWh consumed in Ontario – so over 23% of supply was worthless.

My estimates for Good Friday also show nearly 25% of supply was unusable in Ontario and worthless outside of it.

These are not days I want to preview the future.

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Ontario Wind: Worst value getting worser

A spreadsheet I regularly update with data on industrial wind turbine (IWT) generation in Ontario is cited in Parker Gallant’s recent, Wind: worst value for Ontario consumers. The same post cites the Canadian Wind Energy Association (CanWEA) commentary on Ontario’s recently released Long Term-Energy Plan 2017, which included:

New wind energy provides the best value for consumers to meet growing demand for affordable non-emitting electricity.

Let’s examine the “value” as electricity – as there is no market in Ontario for any subset of that commodity, including “affordable non-emitting”.

Two definitions of “value” from the Oxford dictionary are pertinent:

  1. “The regard that something is held to deserve; the importance, worth, or usefulness of something.”
  2. “The worth of something compared to the price paid or asked for it.”

By the first definition wind is clearly the least valued generation type in Ontario. Using only very basic hourly data sets of Hourly summary totals of grid-connected (Tx) generation by type, valued at the Hourly Ontario Energy Price (HOEP), value factor can be calculated. A value factor above 1 means more valuable than average, below 1 means less valuable, and the lowest number consistently means wind.

This graphic is captured from a page I created to view summaries of basic IESO data sources:

WebValuations

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The declining value of Ontario exports

Yesterday Statistics Canada’s daily news included Electricity supply and disposition, 2016. 

Geoff Zochodne, a reporter at the National Post, gleaned this message from the release:

“Ontario exported more power to the U.S. last year than it has in a decade, and at a relatively low value.”

This initiated some e-mailing, which drew me into the data quagmire again, but also reflecting on my history reporting on exports. Instead of putting my thoughts into private e-mails, I thought I’d make them the content of this public blog post.

I’ll return to the newly posted Statistics Canada data later, but for now I’ll declare my bias as printed in the Financial Post early in 2016: “…StatsCan data is awful. It can’t be the basis for anything.” The recent release has mostly meaningful data, but some big errors mean it’s far from the best data to serve in analyzing Ontario’s exports – or anything else.

Some background on my involvement reporting on exports – if only to satisfy my sudden nostalgia.

Reporting on losses of exports is what got my blogging noticed back in January 2011. I’d started writing a couple of months earlier – to maintain skills in data analysis and, hopefully, develop some writing ability. January 1st, 2011 was warm (for winter) and it was windy. I wrote of records:Read More »

hot Sunday, windy Sunday

I noted Sunday morning curtailment of potential generation was around record levels – a claim repeated Sunday afternoon at a rally against a facility in Prince Edward County. My friend Parker Gallant subsequently wrote on the wasted wind that day. I thought a post comparing the past Sunday to other days might be instructive.

I developed a single page daily report some time ago – something Parker felt useful. The report for Sunday October 15th estimates the cost to a Class B consumer of consuming one megawatt-hour of electricity at $145/MWh.

$145/MWh was up steeply from the $108/MWh I estimated as the average cost for Class B consumers on the previous day. That $37 difference is greater than the difference estimated for exporters: on Saturday their price averaged $27/MWh; on Sunday it was free. The difference in cost for exporters is due to the change in the Hourly Ontario Energy Price, which dropped from $135/MWh in hour 9 on Saturday, when wind was forecast to produce 149 megawatts, to negative prices overnight and back up to $0/MWh in hour 9 on Sunday when wind was forecast to produce 3,876 megawatts. The correlation is not difficult to spot:

chart (41).png

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