Monday, November 28, 2011

A Dubious Distinction: Another Wind Record For Ontario

Sunday November 27th saw a record for hourly electricity production from Ontario's wind turbines.
Hour 10 has 1427MW recorded, which is 1MW higher than the 1426 recorded for hour 9 only two Sundays before.(endnote 1)  The day was also notable as mild temperatures further reduced Ontario's demand, which had already been trending down for the previous 6 weeks.

Comparing hourly production data from Sunday November 27th, 2011, to the production from Sunday, November 28th, 2010, and estimating hourly demand from intertie activity, shows that the additional wind generation of 20,119 MWh coincided with a drop in demand of approximately 38,365MWh of demand.(endnote 2)   That required over 58GWh  of other supply to be curtailed, or exported, which is essentially all production from natural gas and coal that occurred in 2010.  Cas and coal reductions were only about 25.6GWh, nuclear 22.1GWh, and exports were upped by 10.5GWh.

Nuclear Hydro Wind Gas Coal Other Ontario Demand Net Exports
2010 240,696 83,415 6,782 52,156 8,082 2,424 371,778 21,008
2011 218,610 81,907 26,901 29,280 5,242 3,046 333,413 31,573
Variance -22,086 -1,508 20,119 -22,876 -2,840 622 -38,365 10,565

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Perspective on Ontario's Electric System Operator 18-Month Outlook

On our American neighbour's Day of Thanksgiving, the Ontario's Independent Electric System Operator (IESO) released it's latest 18-Month Outlook, to May 2013.  The headline summary from the press release 
was that "Over the next 18 months Ontario will continue to have an adequate supply of electricity to meet consumers' needs."
That hasn't been an issue for years, and the present's premier problem was emphasized as the calendar changed over to the US Black Friday, the day American retailers allegedly move from the losses of the previous portion of the year to the profits of the holiday season. Ontario was paying $31.80/MWh to any market that would accept our exports, and, finding limited takers, Bruce Power was being forced to reduce output from it's nuclear units.  Between the 1100MW we found export markets for, and the 300MW we would pay Bruce to prevent the production of, the IESO managed to compensate for the inconveniently high wind output of  1413MW.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

New Report Demonstrates The Market Impact of Renewable Energy Policies

The press release for the OntarioEnergy Board's Market Surveillance Panel (MSP) Monitoring Report on Ontario'sElectricity Markets  noted four recommendations, including: an increase in the frequency with which interties are scheduled, and the associated frequency of demand and intermittent generation forecasts as well as pre-dispatch schedules” and; "accelerating efforts to make wind generators dispatchable ...”  The MSP report's information supports the claims (argued previously here), that the depressed market prices, and dumping of excess generation, will not simply continue, but grow over the next decade if Ontario's supply procurement policies persist.

The Market Surveillance Panel (MSP) report delivers an analysis of “low-price” hours (defined as the Hourly Ontario Energy Price – or HOEP – being below $20/MWh).  In comparing the Ontario Energy Board (OEB) seasons, where winter begins November 1st and summer begins May 1st, the report notes; 
The greater frequency of low-price hours in this year and in the past two years mirrors the general trend of lower Ontario demand and also reflects the increase to Ontario baseload supply, or generation that is offered like baseload supply (i.e. generators with fixed price contracts per MWh delivered).

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Reviewing Ontario's Feed-In Tariff: Part 2

The current feed-in tariff (FiT) review in Ontario provides an excuse to explore some larger topics - like markets, efficiency, climate change and polices intended to lower emissions. FiT programs will drive up the price of electricity which threatens to reduce the movement of energy consumption towards increased use of electricity - a necessity in the eyes of may if overall carbon emissions are to be meaningfully reduced. FiTs, especially those offered with protectionist requirements, discourage trade in electricity, and that, in turn, further reduces efficiency and, therefore, affordability.

The premise that increased electricity is necessary for a low-carbon world has been repeatedly emphasized this year, including in reports on reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in California, and even more recently in a report, “Scottish Energy 2020?”, put out by the Institution of Mechanical Engineers.  That report noted, “Electricity is actually projected to be the smallest component of Scotland’s energy demand (heat and transport energy being greater)...”  

That sent me to the figures at the back of Part 3 of Canada’s latest (2009) National Inventory Report, to calculate per capita emissions for 3 categories with large residential components.   The resulting graphic shows per capita emissions in Ontario and Quebec (‘Electricity and Heat’ is almost entirely electricity in both provinces, as the ‘heat’ referred to here is primarily the H in CHP - which is essentially absent in these provinces).  I’ve shown emissions from light vehicles, including light trucks.   Most are aware of Quebec’s hydroelectric capacity, but I’m not sure many understand the implications of heating with electricity.  In Ontario, 2011 is likely to see more emissions from heating than from all electricity generation (and both will be dwarfed by the use of light vehicles).

Monday, November 14, 2011

More Wind Records For Ontario - Emissions Rise

Sunday November 13th saw record electricity production from Ontario's wind turbines.   No coal-fired generation was replaced, and emissions from electricity generation in Ontario increased over the comparable day from the previous year.

The initial IESO data shows 32,401MWh of generation this past Sunday, which would be a record. (endnote 1).
Hour 9 has 1426MW recorded, which is the highest hourly figure recorded.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Reviewing Ontario's Feed-In Tariff: Part 1

The Ontario government's announcement of a review of the Feed-In Tariff (FiT) program raised alarms among observer's of Ontario's electricity system.  The review has been put in the hands of a senior bureaucrat from outside of the electricity planning process, de-emphasizing knowledge of Ontario's electricity system..  The government developed a survey and wrote; "All Ontarians are invited to participate in the review of the FIT Program and can provide feedback by answering an online survey or making a written submission at"    The government claims their review will "examine program rules and pricing to ensure the program remains successful and sustainable."  
Remains 'successful and sustainable'?
That is a disconcerting description, but the distortion seems even more bizarre in the official government survey.  Surely in order to comment on revisions to the plan, we should review the first two years to evaluate the accomplishments of the program thus far.  This is especially true as the first accomplishment was to halt comprehensive long-term planning of Ontario's electricity system

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Hydro One 3rd Quarter Report Hints at High Costs Of Politicized Electricity System

Hydro One's Press Release on 3rd Quarter results includes a number of sentences that leave me scratching my head and wondering how much spending is necessary to keep the lights on, and how much should be attributed to the politically motivated connection of unreliable, heavily subsidized, generation.

Curiosity  seems to be in short supply these days, as the country's most read papers continue to print that bills can't have been going up due to renewables as most contracted capacity is not yet online.  They missed years of escalating delivery charges for Ontario's residential consumers.  I had previously looked at escalating capital costs (including the chart shown here, taken from an earlier article on our smart grid).  2010's capital expenditures finally leveled off, at 2009's level, but with the smart meter spending essentially completed, the recent Hydro One results don't indicate capital expenditures will be reduced.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

October Stats: Preliminary Ontario Electricity Figures

A quick overview of some statistics, for October 2011, along with some views of the data not included in the IESO monthly reporting.   I offer these only as my own calculations based on freely available data from the IESO site.   
Mistakes may be my own - some minor variances are expected as the IESO daily figures currently available lack the full detail of the weekly data updates which will not be posted for some days yet.
The HOEP rate for October will end up down around $29.38/MWh, but the 2nd revision of the Global Adjustment, pushes the wholesale rate up to $74.97.  YTD, Ontario demand is almost identical to the first 10 months of 2010, the HOEP is down over 16%, while the GA has climbed over 51%.  Neither markets, nor demands, are causing the rate inflation.

Ontario’s Electricity Policies Bite Into Municipal Budgets

I read an article in the newspaper the other day that began; “The skyrocketing cost of lighting city streets is the result of Ontario Energy Board (OEB) rate changes, city councillors were told Monday.”  The previous week the same council had heard of $130,000 associated with annual electricity bills for the new local twin-rink.  I hadn’t dwelled on it until I read it out loud to a visiting relative; “Street lighting costs are budgeted to increase to $645,500 next year, an increase of 41% since 2009.”  Then the nickel dropped – duh!  I’d written, a week earlier, “OEB Hikes Electricity Rate … 41% in the Past 2 years.”  

Winter 'Years' starting Nov. 1 (ie. 2011 is Nov. 1, 2010, to April 30, 2011)
The two figures shouldn't match.  My understanding was that the Municipalities, Universities, Schools and Hospitals, known as the MUSH sector, were no longer offered regulated rate plans.  They are to pay the actual rates (Hourly Ontario Energy Price -HOEP), with the global adjustment (GA) mechanism applied to ensure recovery of all generation costs (plus a couple of  other things).  The story I read claimed the that, "the number of connections, not the amount of power used, has the greatest impact on cost..."  Regardless of the reason for streetlight costs escalating at the same rate as residential off-peak rates,  some investigating shows rampant contracting of supply, facilitated by the global adjustment mechanism, is destroying the attempt to differentiate off-peak rates in both the regulated consumer market, and the wholesale market.