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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Industrial Conservation Initiative program cost others $1.27 billion in past 12 months

Ontario’s Industrial Conservation Initiative program, which rewards large “Class A” consumers for lower consumption during periods of high demand from the system operator’s supplier, cost others $1.27 billion in past 12 months. I won’t review the history of the program today as I did 3 years ago in “Stakeholders” destroying the viability of Ontario’s electricity market, but I will note that since last March a Variance Account under the [un]Fair Hydro Plan – which shifts costs from ratepayers today to rubes sometime in the future – a debt of $1.2 billion accumulated with April’s total still to be posted.

Today the system operator (IESO) posted the top 5 peak hours for the adjustment period that ended April 30th, 2018 (it started May 1, 2017) – and Monday the IESO posted the final Global Adjustment figures for April. This post will contain:

  1. a quick demonstration of cost shift calculations,
  2. review of the ICI value proposition, and
  3. another jab at the province’s time-of-use (TOU) billing experiment performed on residential consumers.

For the 12 months of the ICI adjustment period the cost shift can be calculated as the difference between what Class A (larger consumers and ICI participants) did pay and what they would have paid were there not a separate class:

 

  • The total global adjustment charge for the period was $11.821 billion dollars, and total consumption (both classes) 138.194 terawatt-hours (million MWh), so the average global adjustment rate was $85.54/MWh.
  • Class A consumers were allocated a $1.8529 billion of the global adjustment total on 36.503 TWh of consumption which works out to an average global adjustment rate of $50.76/MWh
  • The $35.78/MWh difference in that rate, on 36.503 million MWh, means $1.27 billion was avoided

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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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OPG’s 2017 results grate

Yesterday Ontario Power Generation released their 2017 Financial Results:

Ontario Power Generation Inc. (OPG or Company) today reported net income attributable to the Shareholder of $860 million for 2017, compared to $436 million in 2016.

That must be considered a great number in the context of the income history at OPG as it’s the highest they’ve ever accomplished. The apparently excellent results may leave some wondering what critics commenting on the sector have been braying on about. I, a critic, have reviewed the results and found some things to bray about.

OPG annual financial results

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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 »

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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Alternative (Energy) Facts – from Environmental Defence, et al.

I started receiving messages last night on a sorta report by Environmental Defence (ED), and as I am still receiving them, I thought I’d write some thoughts – if only to simply copy a link when again asked for my thoughts.

Here is how ED’s Keith Brooks begins a blog post on their latest “work”:

Electricity prices in Ontario have risen in recent years, putting the squeeze on some Ontario residents and businesses. There are many reasons for the increase in electricity prices and renewable energy is one of them.  However, the role of renewables in diving up electricity bills has been vastly exaggerated.

I wrote on a poor 2014 ED work and noted their new backgrounder contains a graphic with the same information as Figure 1 of their 2014 work. Without acknowledging any level of competency in the compilation of data for either ED graphic, here’s the elements of residential electricity bills as they report them for 2016 and 2014:

edcomp2

Perhaps the “role of renewables in driving up electricity bills” is perceived as being significant because:

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Federal Liberals should bail out stupid Ontario counterparts on northern transmission debacle

I really don’t mean this to sound ugly – but it is about race-based political policy, so I won’t waste too much time prettying it up either.

Brian Hill has produced another report on the Global News site: Ontario hydro customers could pay $650 million to connect remote First Nations communities:

Despite recent promises from the federal government of more than $185 billion in infrastructure spending over the next decade, Ontario electricity customers could soon be on the hook for up to $650 million toward the cost of connecting 16 remote First Nations communities to the province’s electricity grid.

I’ve written on this transmission line, and want to recap here, hopefully as an addendum to Hill’s work, and to demonstrate how stupidly Ontario’s novice Minister of Energy, Glenn Thibeault, proceeded with this project.

A timeline, for context:

1297824433728_original-1
image from National Post

On March 10 the government announced contracts for a number of totally unnecessary renewable energy projects, including one for a wind project unwelcomed by a large majority of Dutton-Dunwich residents. That contract was won based on points received for First Nations participation in the bid -participation largely from northwest reaches of the province.

On June 27th the first Directive from a new Minister Glenn Thibeault to the Ontario Energy Board was to come up with Options for an Appropriate Rate Assistance Program for On-Reserve First Nations Electricity Consumers.

On July 14th Minister Thibeault says high electricity bills in rural Ontario were not a crisis.

On July 29th the government of Ontario announces the project:Read More »

Brown, Wynne, share ignorance of $500+ million ratepayer hit

The Ontario PC party put out some tweets that tweeked my interest yesterday, on payments due to a court ruling.

The parties in the case included those in a ruling I wrote about in May’s Ontario appeals court upholds sentence of higher costs for ratepayers – but the hit on ratepayers in the case I wrote about IS estimated at over half a billion dollars.

After watching an exchange between Premier Kathleen Wynne and Leader of the Official Opposition Brown, I decided to see what they were on about.

It turns out I knew most of what they were on about, it was just hard to be certain as neither of them did.

Two new pieces of information since I wrote on the court case in May:

  1. the case was appealed to the Supreme Court
  2. additional payments/penalties were paid to compensate for more months of generation. [1]

The Ontario PC party seems totally unaware what the nature of the case is, and it seems blissfully oblivious to the fact the latest $94.7 million payout was not the first payment, nor will it be the last if the court case fails – and Northland is only one supplier getting the payouts as a result of the court case against the Ontario Electricity Financial Corporation (OEFC).

The exchange in the legislature doesn’t reveal:

  1. the payment is less than 20% of the cost impact of the court judgement
  2. the OEFC is a shell corporation
  3. the control of the OEFC is essentially under the Minister of Finance [2]
  4. the contracts involved in the court case originate prior to 1995, under Premiers Peterson (Liberal) and Rae (New Democratic Party) [3]
  5. the court case is due to changes in payments due to calculations changed with the introduction, for 2011, of the Industrial Conservation Initiative (ICI – or Class A global adjustment mechanism)

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