Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Zombie Docs: Environment Defence's latest offence

This was first posted March 20th on my Wordpress site. My hope was the report being debunked would be generally ignored and this post would not have continued relevance. 
Unfortunately it's been a useful reference too often; as such, it belongs on Cold Air.

Environmental Defence issued what they consider a study, and it was treated as news (Globe, Star).
It shouldn't have been.

EDYour Home Electricity Bill: A Study on the Costs in Ontario includes some pedestrian costing estimation by a consultant, and regurgitates the spin from past reports that we had felt slain multiple times.

The costing breaks down a bill for $137 which it claims is "based on 800kWh/Month" - which I calculate as working out to 17.25 cents/kWh. The report also cites a Hydro Quebec study to demonstrate how Toronto and Ottawa, collectively known as Ontario (prices are actually higher in the rest of Ontario than these cities). One problem is the HQ data being graphed is in base units, with Montreal set to 100, as the base:  Montreal's $68.66/month (1000kWh residential demand) is the index, making Toronto's $124.75 182 on the index (because it's 82% higher).

This E.D. publication has Toronto rates at both 12.465 cents/kWh and 17.25 cents/kWh.

Believable graphic from unbelievable Environmental Defence report

The 17.25 cent/kWh calculation seems believable - which is from Power Advisory.  Their generation costing doesn't seem much different than I estimated for 2013 - but their methodology is immature, probably by intent.    A simple exercise is percentage of total cost (I'll use the figures in the graphic, less conservation) and percentage of total generation (I'll use 2013 totals from the IESO adding 0.5TWh for solar - an estimate which is from the OPA's planning docs for the LTEP).  So percentage of cost first, and then percentage of generation:
  • Nuclear:     49%, 59%
  • Hydro        17%,  23%
  • Wind,           7%,     3%
  • Solar,            7%,     0.3%
  • Bioenergy,    3%,    0.8%
  • Fossil Fuel  17%, 13%
A higher share of cost than generation means the supply is more expensive - obviously.

Less obviously, because solar and wind in Ontario have little capacity value (expectation of being producing when required), they serve only to make firm generation (usually natural gas) more expensive.  Put in terms of the $77 shown for supply on the catchy graphic in ED's report, fossil fuels would still account for around 17% of total cost if wind and solar equalled 0%.

That's only one reason people, sentient ones, claim costs rise with renewable supply.  As my more thorough estimates indicate, there's also a cost to Ontario residential consumers of selling electricity to export markets, and large industrial customers, at prices far below the full cost of that supply. Intermittency is a contributing factor to that behaviour.

Another ED shortcoming is claiming the cost of purchasing the supply is the full cost of adding the supply - whereas some expenses are incurred to add the supply in additional transmission and distribution infrastructure.

ED's report later disposes of any pretense of numeracy and goes into the safe confines of misdirection with 2003's blackout, and attributing today's much cleaner air to the amount of renewable energy they just claimed was negligible in arguing it wasn't spiking bill prices.
It gets stupider again in starting a paragraph, "As to what energy should replace polluting coal..."

Coal is replaced.

The rest of the report is either scenarios based on the OPA's scenarios (which few have much faith in), and/or  typical E.D. bullshit referencing the same tired old anti-nuke kook nonsense they always do.

The zombies referenced by ED, and rebuttals:
  1. Power Advisory Report (2014): Components of an Ontario Residential Electricity Bill. -  it's a PowerPoint presentation, from a consultant, with forecast and calculations"based on Ontario’s 2013 Long-Term Energy Plan (LTEP)" - which the consultant isn't confidant is feasible (see Summary and Commentary on Ontario's Long-Term Energy Plan)
  2. Ontario Clean Air Alliance. (2010). Ontario’s Stranded Nuclear Debt: A Cautionary Tale - a gas lobby's demented interpretation of debt treatment in Ontario.  If you find it credible in the least read Stranded Debt - Abandoned Responsibility and/or Power at what cost and/or Duncan's Grow-Op is Stealing Hydro
  3. DSS Management Consultants Inc. and RWDI Air Inc. (2005). Cost Benefit Analysis: Replacing Ontario’s Coal-fired Electricity Generation. - disputed in 2005, there'd be a more current report if it had been vindicated (see also Ross McKitrick in the Financial Post in 2011 and my The Lies of March
  4. Ontario Ministry of Energy. (2013). 2013 LTEP Consolidated Figures and Data Tables - noted above the concerns of Power Advisory, but writing my own commentary remains a "to do" list item
  5. Hydro Quebec: Comparison of Electricity Prices in Major North American Cities - the graphic shown by E.D. is labelled wrong, which is somewhat understandable as HQ's numbers for Toronto's small consumers seem too low to believe
  6. Ontario Clean Air Alliance. (2013). A Seven Point Energy Plan for Premier Wynne - the gas lobby again, with something I hadn't read before.   Conserve + pay attention to gas (except the price) + to hell with nuclear.  Yawn
  7. Ontario Power Authority. (2014). Detailed LTEP Information Breakdown. Module 4: Cost of Electricity Service, slide 48 - which is the costing of the LTEP that may or may not be well-considered.
  8. Greenpeace Canada and the Pembina Institute. (2013): Renewable is Doable: Affordable and flexible options for Ontario’s Long-term Energy Plan - which I criticized, particularly as it will increase emissions, in NENGO's target nuclear at expense of the environment
  9. Ontario Power Authority. (2014). Detailed LTEP Information Breakdown. Module 4: Cost of Electricity Service, slide 40 this time (2nd reference) - with the OPA showing how much you'll save with "efficiency" - it's great they're getting away from the term "conservation", but the OPA doesn't have a history of accounting intelligently for conservation (see the Con in Conservation, There's never been a worse time for this conservation thing, and my costing of CDM supply in estimates during the LTEP consultation period)
  10.  Ontario Ministry of the Environment. (2014) Ontario Smog Advisories: 2003-2014 - this seems like good data, but adds nothing to The Fog Around emissions From Electricity Generation

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