Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Draft Response To Regulator's Consultation on TOU Pricing

2010-11 Time-of-Use Consultation (EB-2010-0364)

I’ve prepared some remarks as I consider a response to the Ontario Energy Board (OEB) review of the Retail Pricing Plan (RPP), and specifically the Time Of Use (TOU) pricing. 

Note to the OEB: Benchmarker, Benchmark Thy Self

I was intrigued by the news that Chancellor Merkel created an ethics commission to study the use of nuclear power in Germany.  It’s an interesting challenge, and not just for nuclear energy.   Merkel’s creation of an ethics commission to investigate nuclear generation struck me as a second cynical act (the first being simply removing older reactors from service for 3 months).  Voters in regional elections weren’t inspired, as her party lost power this past weekend anyway. 
The morality issue seems increasingly involved in electricity policy everywhere.  My main focus is Ontario, and I am a fan of an appropriate amount of nuclear generation in a supply mix.    CBC news just said the government of Japan is now considering putting TEPCO out of it’s misery, and nationalizing.  That could be interesting.  I noticed yesterday some flak in the American industry about demonstrating their structure, of private ownership with public oversight, provided the safest, and cheapest, industry.
Here at home we have a regulator deciding against the public generator being paid 6% more - for not meeting private sector measurements from a recent benchmarking effort. 

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Conservatives Begin Canadian Election Campaign With Elusive Majority In Sight

I predict a strengthened Conservative government, and probably a majority. There are a number of reasons for that, most having nothing to do with timely specifics, policies, or image. The trends are towards a Conservative majority, and I don’t believe anything has occurred that changes that trend.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

As Japan Copes, Cynical Opportunists Thrive

I haven’t written a blog entry since the earthquake and tsunami rocked Japan.   I switched on the television that day and the video coming in turned my stomach as I recalled the initial reporting on the quake, and tsunami, in the Indian Ocean.   The situation has unfolded, now as then, with the extent of the massive devastation being unveiled slowly.  I have 3 sons in the house and I discussed it with them as we watched the footage – attempting to empathize.  It’s a tough thing to do. Their uncle, out on Gabriola Island, would be a better person to ask about living on the shores of an area prone to earthquakes, and susceptible to a tsunami – or their newer uncle who had lived at the base of an active volcano for some time.  People live in danger’s path.  We also discussed engineering, with my little knowledge of it, including redundancy, passive safety features, and the law of diminishing returns.  And I opined the active in this world usually work in the realm of probability, lacking the certainty, and paralysis, of absolutes.
The first reports of nuclear trouble that raised my eyebrows involved Japan declaring emergencies at 5 reactors, and that they may not have pumps to cool the reactors.    

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Premier McGuinty Links Kindergarten and Electricity Policy

As our federal government is cited for contempt of Parliament, it is notable that our provincial government also seems to be lacking in respect for the provincial legislature.
From the Hansard for March 8th (heavily edited to try to get just the question, and answer, and the two follow-ups):
Mr. Tim Hudak:
“...Premier, exactly how much higher are hydro rates going to go to pay for your mismanagement?”
Hon. Dalton McGuinty:
“... if he’s truly committed to ensuring that we keep costs down for Ontario families, then he’s going to want to take the opportunity right now to commit to full-day kindergarten for all four- and five-year-olds in Ontario.”

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Forecast –Misanthropic with A Chance of Perception

I noticed at The Globe and Mail site an article, on yet another Climate Change study, which began “Climate change will have the greatest effect on those least responsible for causing the problem, a new study suggests.”  The most successful parts of the planet did industrialize early, and the most productive countries have tended to be northern.  I think we could spot a coincidence, if we weren’t looking for a morality tale.  The modeling seems designed to leave the impression that wealthier societies are villains.

Ontario's Surplus Baseload Generation Forecast Skyrockets

The IESO describes Surplus Baseload Generaton (SBG) as, “a condition that occurs when electricity production from baseload facilities is greater than Ontario demand. There are limited options available to lower output from baseload generators in order to maintain the balance between supply and demand. It is expected that incidences of SBG may increase as Ontario's supply mix continues to change. “

It is expected, because it is planned!

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Reviewing EIA data: Lessons for Wind, Nuclear, and Reduced Production

I’ve been looking outside my little setting in the province in Ontario for data indicating signs of intelligent life in the electricity policy universe.  The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) provides a wealth of data, and forecasts.  I’ve started working with a number of tables/spreadsheets for the period 1990-2009.   The first thing I checked was for the correlation between wind and emissions reduction – but that initiated some queries to uncover the best performing states in terms of reducing emissions, and that led to some others to find out what metrics did relate to reduction of emissions.   Most of the data I formulated compared 2009 to 1997[i].  I chose 1997 because it was the year the Kyoto Protocol was negotiated – the base year for that protocol is 1990, but I’ve learned that was a negotiated date long after it had passed.  After a lot of work, the conclusions from the data are things we knew 25 years ago.  Generating less energy reduces CO2 emissions – as does producing a greater share of electricity with nuclear.