Electricity policy is blowin’ in the wind

by Clare McCarthy, Orangeville Banner

The Ontario Liberal government’s program supplying electrical energy to hydro consumers in the province appears to be in tatters.

Premier Dalton McGuinty’s party is to be lauded for its aim to develop sources of green energy and eliminate polluting coal-fired plants, but it has come to my attention that during the last month of 2010, an excess of electrical power on the grid forced us to pay approximately $1.5 million to the United States and Quebec governments to take this excess off of our hands.

Even this fact did not reveal the true extent of this ludicrous problem, since for the complete year, our payment to the United States and Quebec actually totalled in excess of $6.5 million as a result of overproduction of power by of our electricity producers.

Wind turbines and solar panels might be major components of future green energy production, but this can only happen after several related problems are resolved.

I don’t believe that at present there is a policy controlling the shut-down of wind turbines and solar panels when their power is not required on the grid.

Since investors have sunk a good deal of cash into equipment for these two sources of power generation, there has to be a government policy that makes it fair to the investors by regulating which installation will shut down during times of an abundance of electrical power.

Whatever policy surfaces must also be fair to consumers in order that their electrical payments are not squandered. Wouldn’t a partial solution to the problem involve the development of suitable mass storage devices that could save excess energy for times of need? Perhaps more attention should be paid to research and development in this area?

Recent newspaper headlines such as, “Ontario solar projects put on hold” and “Offshore wind turbine farms scrapped,” attest to the present confused state of electrical energy production in Ontario.

There have been, ongoing questions of health concerns related to wind turbines as well. Until these questions of regulation, storage,  and health effects are answered to the satisfaction of those concerned, wind power generators will not be the answer to our electrical energy woes.

In addition to the health and aesthetic issues related to wind turbines, there is also the added complication of insufficient transmission lines in Ontario. I would say Energy Minister Brad Duguid’s comment, “We need some time to review the science and we don’t have it yet,” is a major understatement.

I realize for Ontario consumers, simply flipping a switch to turn on electrical power is common practice, and that it is not quite as easy for those in charge of generating and regulating electrical power.

Fair regulations, efficiency,  and a major upgrade are aspects of our electrical power that need to be resolved quickly if coal-fired plants are to be closed by 2014.

Taxpayers are used to seeing their tax dollars frittered away on so-called essential government projects, but can’t be happy that the present condition of The Ontario Power Authority’s long-term energy plan is being likened to a tattered Province of Ontario flag fluttering limply in the breeze.

21 thoughts on “Electricity policy is blowin’ in the wind

  1. Clare, a couple of corrections are in order. The paying to export electricity occurs every day – here’s some very current figures for you.
    Over the first 22 days of March Ontario exported 711596MWh of electricity. The market rate, the HOEP, continues to be very depressed (aren’t we all), and the rich contracts for suppliers therefore need the global adjustment to be added to the HOEP. This charge can’t be applied to exports – so Ontario customers will pay the $37.11 GA (IESO 1st estimate) plus the $30.31 average HOEP, while the external markets importing the electricity will pay only the $30.31 HOEP.
    So… in the first 22 days of March export customers paid $26.4 million less than Ontario customers would pay for the same amount of product.
    That’s $1.2 million every day.
    YTD the numbers aren’t so rosy. It works out to around $1.4 million every day (and that is about 70% of the level it was in December).

    A couple of other things people might find informative. The OPA, which is likely to be killed off with a pen in today’s budget, didn’t produce the LTEP – that comes from the Minister. The latest evil government bureaucracy on the wind file is the OEB, and currently they are looking at a ‘fair’ way to screw people with TOU rates.

    The consultant they’ve hired figures the fair way is to take the extra cost from procuring wind, and solar, and add it to peak period rates in the summer. The peak summer hours are very close to wind’s least productive all year (early morning summer hours are a touch worse), so we’ll pay for wind when it is least likely to produce output.

    Sound fair?

  2. Maybe Ontarians will have to pay to build a reservior to pump Lake Ontario into so they will have reserve hydro power when there is no wind for the wind turbines to prooduce electricity because this is what probably will be needed to backup wind turbine power.

  3. This wind turbine fiasco has put on display the incredibe scientific stupidity of this situation not only for Ontarians to view but the whole world as well.

    Purchase obsolete machinery to generate electricity that only works 25% of the time, install thousands of kilometers of lines to connect the usless turbines and then build backup capacity for all of this to work.

    Backup capacity to be provided by natural gas, water and batteries or a combination of these.

    You can’t “carpet” Ontario with batteries. Backup hydro would involve the construction of reservois for water storage.Or is it possible to construct artifical water falls at places like Sarnia, Windsor and Kingston to produce electricity from the Great Lakes?

    What folly this is to talk about backup power from hydro and batteries in order to install wind turbines in Ontario!

  4. Barbara – there’s very little place in southern Ontario to place large reservoirs. Not enough elevation change, with the one exception of the escarpment – which is already being used at Niagara Falls and “improved upon” with Big Becky.

    The drop from Lake Huron to Lake St Clair is 2m, then 1m more to Lake Erie. The big 100m drop is from Erie to Lake Ontario. Lake Ontario itself already has a dam, at Iroquois, which is not very high. Downstream from there things get a little steeper, but there’s already dams in place. There’s just not much there.

  5. Thanks Wayne,

    DTE Energy has a reservoir off Lake Michigan that they fill using excess nuclear power but it only has few hours of electric generating capacity. Don’t know what the elevation there is above Lake Michigan. They fill it during the night.

    Anyway my point is that a large capacity of water reserve would be needed to furnish enough backup hydro power and the water would have to come from the Great Lakes.

    Also there are places along Lake Erie where the land is quite high above the lake. So perhaps possibe for some foolish people to believe in?

  6. ENVIRONMENTAL DEFENCE CANADA 2009-2010 Annual Report, PDF, page 5.

    Photo taken at the Blue Green Event in Copenhagen during the Climate Change Summit 2009.

    Photo by Mike Layton includes:
    Tezporah Berman, PowerUP Canada
    Gordon Campbell, B.C.
    Sidney Ribaux, Equiterre
    Rick Smith, Environmental Defence Canada
    Gerald Butts, WWF-Canada
    Jean Charest, Quebec
    John Gerretson, Ontario Environment Minister
    Ed Markey, U.S. Congressman

  7. Wind Works-Org, Feb.24,2009

    “Green Energy Act Introduced to Ontario’s Provincial Parliament” by Paul Gipe, Feb.24,2009

    “The government expects the bill to be passed in its entiriety by the end of May. Because of the near certantiy of passage ,the government has directed that an administrative process begin February 10th to run parallel and alongside the legislative process. The administrative process will be managed by the Ontario Power Authority and will examine the specific tariffs to be used in the Green Energy Act.”

    Now we know how the Green Energy Act was pushed through so quickly.

  8. Green Energy Act Alliance , http://www.greenenergyact.ca

    Go to the Join the Green Energy Act Alliance section.

    “To join,members of the Alliance must endorse the core components of the Proposed Green Energy Act contained in the ‘A Green energy Act for Ontario: Executive Summary’ and agree to have their name associated with the Campaign”

    For more Information:
    General information:
    Mike Layton
    Environmental Defence

    Media contact:
    Jennifer Foulds
    Environmental Defence

  9. Environmental Defence Canada Annual Report 2009-2010, PDF page 6.
    http;//environmentaldefence.ca, Use search for 2009-2010 Annual Report.

    UN Climate Change Summitt, Copenhagen Dec.2009.

    ” As a partner with the United Steelworkers Union in Blue Green Canada,we also organized a celebration of Climate Change Action taken by the United States, attended by The Speaker Of The House Of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi, and prominent Congressmen”

  10. Environmental Defence Canada Annual Report 2009-2010, PDF page 6.
    http://environmentaldefence.ca, Use search for 2009-2010 Annual Report.

    UN Climate Change Summitt, Copenhagen Dec.2009.

    ” As a partner with the United Steelworkers Union in Blue Green Canada,we also organized a celebration of Climate Change Action taken by the United States, attended by The Speaker Of The House Of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi, and prominent Congressmen”

  11. I think the only way any one will listen is if we attack and take their seats.
    Hudak could have opposed the GEA and the HST ..the problem is he is saying anything and everything , so who knows where we go with him.?
    Renewable energy is accepted by the majority of people.
    TOU meters..do you want these guys deciding when and who gets energy?
    And future cost and how this effects jobs in manufacturing
    Renewables direction should be to help consumers put less demand on the grid and help us save money.
    I think we have to sell McGuinty’s plan as evil to the average person.

  12. Ernest,
    Indeed, the public has been sold a huge “bill of goods”. But people will be forced to pay for this folly unless they wake up in time to stop this scam from going any further.

  13. Environment Defence Canada Annual Report 2009-2010, Page 8.
    http://environmentaldefence.ca, Use search for the PDF Report.

    Donations April 1,2009-March 31,2010 include:
    Scotia Bank Corporate Social Responsibility
    Sears Canada
    Ecojustice Canada
    Government of Canada, Public Works and Environmental Services
    Pembina Institute
    City of Toronto
    Ontario Ministry of Energy and Infrastructure
    Ontario Power Authority Conservation Bureau
    International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, Local
    Summerhill Group
    The Home Depot-Canada
    Town of South Bruce Peninsula
    Town of Wasaga Beach
    Wal-Mart Canada
    Tim Hortons

  14. Environmental Defence Canada Annual Repot 2009-2010, Page 8.
    http://environmentaldefence.ca, Use search for PDF 2009-2010 Report.

    Donations April 1,2009-March31,2010 include:
    Blue Green Alliance Foundation
    Mott Foundation
    Community Power Fund
    Metcalf Foundation
    Ivey Foundation
    John Merck Fund
    Laidlaw Foundation
    Ontario Trillium Foundation
    RBC Foundation
    Steelworkers Humanity Fund
    Tides Canada Foundation
    Tides Foundation
    Walter & Duncan Gordon Foundation
    United Steelworkers Revolving Fund

  15. Disgusting is the word here Barbara….if anyone has the guts to even watch 1/2 of this video they may have to start thinking about some serious issues here and demand that their children be given the opportunity to see how we are and have been “played” by the powers of Government that exist in the present day!

    The truth will out…..eventually!

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