Friday, June 22, 2012

At the end of the Week, Surplus Once Again

Today Ontario's Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO) released it's latest 18-month outlook.  When their previous version was released, I wrote "At The End of the IESO 18-Month Outlook," which included quotes from the end of their past 4 versions' final paragraphs.
Here's the latest:
Another large variation was in the frequency and energy volume of manual actions, such as nuclear unit maneuvers or import transaction curtailments, for surplus baseload generation conditions. In Q1 2012, there were 73 GWh of curtailments versus 32 GWh in Q1 of 2011. The rise in manual action is a result of lower minimum demands as well as a growing portfolio of baseload generation. The ability to dispatch renewable resources may help mitigate the need for these actions moving forward.
The IESO 18 month outlook now graphs some curtailment actions
It may, but it's less likely in light of the IESO's presentation prepared for a June 27th meeting of the Renewables Integration (SE-91) 'stakeholder' group, which prioritizes renewables over nuclear output (by suggesting a minimum offer price of -$10 for wind and solar, -$5 for 'flexible' nuclear).  This will mean, as oversupply drops pricing into the negative, nuclear bids will be rejected first, requiring 'flexible' nuclear to curtail first.
As it does now - with those curtailments having risen 128% in the first quarter of 2012 over Q1 of 2011.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Differentiating Baseload and Pantload Power Generation

Today's hot, humid weather drove Ontario's electricity demand to it's highest levels since July 22nd of last year, with demand forecast to peak at 5 pm.

The day's generation profile isn't exactly typical for a summer day, but it is a good example for clarifying some of the confusing terms in electricity generation.  The term baseload is being deliberately obfuscated recently, but it's pretty easy to spot the traditional meaning in the day's actual production figures for 3 am, and 3 pm

At 3 am demand was around 14000 MW, and we were exporting about 1800 MW in addition to that, at a little over 1 cent/kWh.  That gives a decent idea that whatever was generating is more expensive to stop generating than to sell at rock bottom rates.  For different reasons, this applies to nuclear, the big hydro installations (ie. the Niagara and St. Lawrence generating stations), contracted non-utility generators (gas), and wind.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Wind 'em Up Day: Spin Baby Spin

Friday was dubbed "Global Wind Day"

In Ontario, that meant some rather predictable things - like installations that had been producing output for half a year had ceremonies to officially baptize them as open.  These included the largish Greenwich wind farm Enbridge has been operating near Thunder Bay; and David Suzuki slunk onto Manitoulin Island, with Ontario's current Minister of Energy, to open the 4MW Mother Earth Renewable Energy wind project.   What is also now expected, and disturbing, is the politicization of the bureaucracy compelled to join in with the suspect industry's agenda; all reported, as if news, in the mainstream, media.

The Environmental Registry posted 5 notices on Global Wind Day including 2 renewable energy certificates approving Samsung/Korean Consortium wind projects, with a third awarding the REC for their 'Grand Renewable' solar project.  The sudden flood of activity on the Samsung file followed John Spears' article in the Star pretending a need for urgent action on moving the Samsung projects forward.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Electricity Exports Continue to Cost Ontario Families

Ontario electricity exports in May cost Ontario families, adding about 6/10th's of a cent to the charge on each kWh they consumed.

It's that time of the month where the govenment release it's silly spin on Ontario exports, and I am silly enough to rebut it once again.  This month is a little different as the release comes just days after the government announced it would sell the power it has been exporting, at very cheap rates, to industry willing to commit to adding employment in Ontario.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Billions at Stake In Feed-In Tariff Contract Fine Print

March 22nd the Ontario government announced results of a review of it's feed-in tariff (FIT) program to contract supply of renewable energy.  The announcement did little to provide visibility on costing, for either project proponents or the ratepayers taking on the liability of the long-term contracts.  Concerns, from the suppliers' perspective, are apparent at the Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO) as discussions, and proposals, related to the integration of renewable energy supplies into Ontario's system are studied (SE-91).   The cost of excess supply in Ontario is likely to be over $1 billion a year, and possibly double that amount, by 2014; the fine print in the revised FIT contracts will determine how much of that cost is from curtailing payments to FIT generators, along with generation, and how much will be borne by Ontario's ratepayers.
An attendee noted that there has been some slippage in terms of the timelines for finalizing a floor price mechanism and addressing compensation/contract issues. He noted that without specifics regarding dispatch and floor price mechanisms, that developers cannot make go/no go decisions on projects.
The IESO responded ... From a contract perspective, the OPA has stated that they recognize that some language exists in contracts which do not have clear definitions. The IESO recognizes this problem for developers, but the additional clarity that developers are seeking is not yet available.           -Minutes of May 3rd SE-91 Meeting (emphasis added)

Monday, June 4, 2012

Estimating Costs in Ontario's Electricity Sector

I haven't posted lately as I've revisited data to provide improved estimates of a number of entities in Ontario's electricity system.  I've tried to do so in a manner that can be easily updated, and written some descriptions of the process, in a lengthy entry at my data site (users with slow connections are warned).   Since I've put the time in building the data structure to support posts, I'll grab some of the data to illustrate the types of figures that can be produced, albeit as estimations with imperfect data, depended on a number of assumptions.

The cost of supply is broken down based on known information on contracts with suppliers.  Some of these contracts pay for capacity (Cpcty) in different formats. The average pricing for 2011 is shown below.  Also shown is graphing of each 'fuel' generation type as a percentage of supply, and of cost (if it's cost share is greater than the share of generation, it's more expensive than average)

Fuel Rate_Output Rate_Cpcty
Nuclear $57.05 $0.00
Hydro $36.47 $0.00
Gas $63.58 $24.44
Coal $37.66 $75.27
Imports $36.23 $0.00
Wind $135.00 $0.00
Other $115.77 $112.82
Solar $500.00 $0.00
Unknown $28.40 $0.00
TOTAL $55.85 $6.41