Lower Mattagami could become a $10 billion boondoggle

Today the government of Canada approved a pipeline, which some see as contrasting with it declaring a climate emergency yesterday. To assuage the concern the government has promised to do blindingly good things with profits from the pipeline, including promising “every dollar the federal government earns from this project will be invested in Canada’s clean energy transition,” and launching, “the next phase of engagement with Indigenous groups on ways they could share in the benefits of the expansion, including through equity ownership or revenue sharing.”

When the Prime Minister was elected he brought two veterans of Ontario’s Liberal government to Ottawa as his top advisors, so this seems an opportune time to examine one “clean energy” initiative geared to invest in Aboriginal communities.

The $2.6 billion expansion on hydroelectric generating stations on the Lower Mattagami river.

Ontario’s nominally public generator says of a hydro project completed for 2015:

The $2.6 billion Lower Mattagami Project has allowed Ontario Power Generation [OPG] to produce more clean, renewable electricity from new generating units.

I checked – all the way back to the construction of the first of 3 generating stations OPG built on the Lower Mattagami. A fourth site, Smoky, already existed but it was a private generator until 1991, so I had to estimate that data. If the completed project has allowed OPG to to more, OPG has found other reasons not to do so.

view graphic in Google Sheets

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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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Turbine Approval Revoked

Bayshore broadcasting reports:

Approval for wind turbines in Clearview Township has been revoked.

The Environmental Review Tribunal released its decision today (Wednesday) to revoke the previous Renewable Energy Approval.

Although the article notes the proponent has 15 days to appeal, I’ve switched the status to “Cancelled” on my map of industrial turbines in Ontario.

The Environmental Review Tribunal’s action might prove contagious. It’s unclear why the IESO is not exercising contract clause’s to revoke other feed-in tariff (FIT) contracts. I reviewed FIT 1 contracts and found this:

Article 9
TERMINATION AND DEFAULT…
9.1 Events of Default by the Supplier
(j) The Commercial Operation Date has not occurred on or before the date which is 18 months after the Milestone Date for Commercial Operation, or otherwise as may be set out in Exhibit A.
So I checked my import of data from an IESO contract data listing (should match this). Aside from the Fairview site just cancelled, the off-shore contract persists despite a ban on offshore. The Amherst Island project has advanced to the stage of barge sinking in harbour – but not far beyond that, while White Pines was greatly reduced by the ERT yet ponders a future despite having run out the clock.
IWTpassedTime
What’s in Exhibit A of these deals preventing the IESO from terminating?

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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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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Can this light bulb go off

Here’s a thought: How much should your electricity bill go up because of people employed to save stupid people money?

Respected energy economist Severin Borenstein is advising readers to Trash those incandescent bulbs today!

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:

qualified-general-leds

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.

Borenstein writes:

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…

bsbear
Slide 26 from Bruce Sharp’s presentation 

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?

Report shows Ontario ratepayers have paid $6 billion to dump electricity

Brady Yauch has produced a report, along with Scott Mitchnick, on the cost of selling electricity to exporters for less than it cost to procure the supply:

Ontario electricity customers have paid more than $6 billion to cover the cost of exporting the province’s energy surplus, according to a new study from the Consumer Policy Institute.

Over the last decade, Ontario customers have paid $6.3 billion to cover the cost of selling high-priced electricity to customers outside of the province, according to a new study by the Consumer Policy Institute. A majority of those costs – $5.8 billion – have come since 2009, as demand for electricity in Ontario has fallen, while more generation capacity continues to be added, creating a growing surplus that gets dumped at below-cost prices in places like New York and Michigan.

The quote is from the blog post; the full study is, Power Exports at What Cost? How Ontario Electricity Customers are paying more to dump the province’s excess power.

cpiestimates

The numbers match, almost exactly, my estimates using the same calculations I use in charting the cost of exports in my weekly and monthly reports. I recommend reading Yauch’s work because I find it very accessible – more than my own.

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IESO reports show failure to address systemic changes

Yesterday Ontario’s system operator released a number of reports. Personally these reports provide opportunities to check the performance of the system compared to my expectations, and estimates, and they also provide an indication of how well the IESO adjusted to taking over the responsibilities of the former Ontario Power Authority (OPA) after 2014.

The data released includes:

  • Updated Ontario Energy Report website with 2016 1st quarter information, with related electricity report (.pdf), and data file (.xlsx)
  • 2016 Q1 Progress Report on Contracted Electricity Supply (.pdf)
  • 18 month outlook (.pdf) and related date file (.xlsx)

On first flip through the reports, the graphic that most caught my eye was the 18-month outlook’s “Table 4.1 Existing Generation Capacity as of…” This table shows not only what the IESO considers the capacity, by fuel type, participating in their market, but also what I will call “Capacity Value” and they call “Forecast Capability at Outlook Peak.” This is an important number because it’s used to measure the system’s ability to meet anticipated peak demand. The numbers that caught my attention were a 280 megawatt (MW) capacity of solar, with the forecast capability at peak of 28 MW.  The 10% capacity value that indicates is sharply reduced from the 18 month forecast of June 2015.

IESOoutlookChange.PNG

Let’s ignore the low installed value for solar for a fleeting moment, and concentrate on the reduced capacity value. This June’s 18 month report explains it:Read More »

chuck Farmer, and other procurement suggestions

Ontario’s IESO ineptitude in managing Ontario’s electricity supply is displayed in an article from the Lucknow Sentinel, IESO’s designation of Huron-Kinloss as potential host for green energy projects forces township to reaffirm its no wind turbine stance.

The local council noted a change in the IESO’s classification of the area’s transmission capability in determining where to force more industrial wind turbines (the same change I posted on April 14th)

“We can say that we are not a willing host, but what does that mean at the end of the day? Nothing because the contracts are let out by the IESO,” Twolan said, following the council meeting. “We’ve always said we’re not a willing host. We passed that a long, long time ago, but the new map that came out, it changes all the time and we had no input into that. And it doesn’t matter that we passed that we’re a non-willing host, they can still put that in there.”

Of 5 recent, and totally needless, industrial wind contracts awarded by the IESO, 3 went to communities that had actively announced themselves opposed.

So why the change in status?

Chuck Farmer, the IESO director of stakeholder and public affairs, said…

“I do understand their concern and I do want to stress that this is an assessment of transmission capabilities — so an assessment of the system ability and not a statement of any community stance,” Farmer said in a phone interview on April 27.

He said the redesignation occurred because previous projects slated for the area are now no longer moving forward, which freed up space on the system.

“That creates an indication there maybe room on the transmission system to connect some more projects in the area,” he said.

Farmer said he couldn’t elaborate on the disbanded wind projects previously set for the area.

This doesn’t suggest Farmer is capable of elaborating on any subject.

He uses the same logic as what my friend Parker Gallant calls Lucy math – you plan on spending what you don’t have on something you don’t need, decide you don’t need it after-all, and spend the fictitious savings from the decision on something else you don’t need.

The area is a stupid place for more industrial wind, and, unlike a well-paid IESO drone, I can support my claim.

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Murray’s spark and the knowledge gap

Ontario’s Minister of the environment and Climate Change delivered a speech at the Economic Cub today which followed a report in the Globe and Mail on a leaked draft document featuring his government’s plan to create a new body with a sweeping mandate to overhaul energy use in the province.

The writer of the article in the Globe, Adrian Morrow, tweeted live from the speech, including:

  • “Please stop buying internal combustion engine cars,” Murray exhorts his audience. “Next time you buy a car, go electric.”

  • [Minister] says auto execs tell him switch to electric cars “isn’t going to work. But they have no alternative”

Somebody should remind the Minister about a number of things, but particularly that his government just recently incentivized Toyota to move off of electricity from Ontario’s relatively clean grid to produce it’s own electricity, from natural gas.

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