Monday, August 24, 2015

IESO Reporting Challenge: concerning Fig 23

Everything is political.

Working with data, the political introduces itself largely in reporting. The planning, structuring and collection of data all involve organizational power structures, but in an intelligent system all are dependent on operations and/or the current, or envisioned, demand for reporting.

I usually find reporting to be the least enjoyable aspect of working with data. Querying data can be very informative, and much of my writing takes one aspect of a data set and explores it with words. Reports are often designed for other people, to their design - particularly executive reporting, which is designed for a quick hit on the status presented in a format the executive are comfortable with.

The IESO eventually posted a report for June, weeks later than usual. That is interesting in itself, as it implies the report is designed for an audience the doesn't need it any particular time. I can't think of a benefit of variable intermittent reporting (VIR) in Ontario's electricity sector - must be part of a bigger trend to variable intermittent stuff.
Whoever the important audience is for VIR, the June report had at least one new graphic which must be for them:

This is not the format of reporting on generation I would expect the people reading through a summary report to find relevant. The IESO's long-standing Figure 18, "Monthly Energy by Fuel Type," is a graph of monthly production in the same stacked chart format, but for coherent categories; nuclear, hydro, gas/oil, solar, wind, biofuel and imports. I would think normal people looking at a monthly report might like cost information for the same categories they receive production information.
Like this:

Sunday, August 9, 2015

A heat wave exposes Ontario's electricity data and policy failings

The last week of July saw the hottest days of 2015 driving electricity demand to it's highest levels in 18 months. Market data for the month, coupled with the newest estimate of the month's global adjustment costs, indicate a fourth consecutive month of  20+% increases over 2014's electricity commodity pricing. A mainstream media site, the Toronto Sun, posted an editorial titled Wynne's hydro policy is insane. The editorial picked up on some of the poor decisions causing rising pricing but contains some data errors. These errors are understandable given the inability of Ontario's system operator, the IESO, to update its methods of accounting for electricity generation, and costs, since absorbing the Ontario Power Authority at the start of 2015. Not only has reporting not advanced, the IESO displays declining competence in producing the reports it historically has.

July's steep price increases, and The Toronto Sun editorial, follow a report by the Ontario Chamber of Commerce (OCC) indicating 1 out of 20 businesses in the province anticipate closing in the next 5 years. Facts the Sun's editorial gets some serve as a nice illustration of the OCC report's first recommendation:
Increase transparency of electricity pricing and system cost drivers
I'll use the highlighted elements of the Sun's editorial to demonstrate the IESO's growing inability to report on supply and demand in Ontario's electricity sector.