Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Wind turbines unpopular thanks to environmentalists


Environmentalists expect much from wind energy but don’t like to see the countryside dotted with turbines, writes Trouw.

Some twenty years ago the first wind turbines started to appear on Dutch farmland. Every new wind turbine was a novelty and duly reported by the local newspaper. The farmers, innovative and often slightly eccentric, had had to fight long and hard to get a license from councils who had to appease a population doubtful of the usefulness of these gigantic structures. But they could always count on the support of the local and provincial environmental organisations who loved the idea of sustainable energy and who thought the Netherlands would in time become a major producer. And if people didn’t like the look of the turbines - what true environmental activist cared about that?


Now, twenty years on, the rift between country dwellers and environmental activists is not as broad as it once was. The reason is that the environmental movement has changed its mind about what are called ‘solitary turbines’. Environmental activists now call the nineties ‘the pioneering phase’ in which every new turbine was greeted with enthusiasm. But they are also saying that this enthusiasm lead to a terrible mushrooming of turbines.

The turbine enthusiasts of yore are horrified at Flevoland where turbines sprouted arbitrarily in the landscape. The turbines have become much bigger, environmentalists concede. They have become more understanding of protests against the visual pollution of the landscape, especially if it is allowed to go on without any cohesive environmental planning.


The criticism of citizens and environmental organisations on single wind turbines and small wind farms are making life easier for the provincial authorities who are now banning land based turbines. The province of Noord Holland for example has made it part of the negotiations for a new provincial government that not a single new turbine can be built on land. All new turbines will have to go off shore. Friesland, which used to be at the forefront of turbine building is now relegating them to the edges of the province and may possibly ban them altogether, depending on the funds available to compensate the farmers who are willing to pull them down.

Are the locals happy? Yes, they are. Are the environmentalists happy? Not really. Conservation organisations and environmentalists have traditionally supported a concentration of turbines but they feel the provinces are now taking things too far. They have calculated that the country needs land based wind energy to attain sustainable energy norms. The off shore winds farms are not producing enough and environmentalists fear that the restrictive provincial policy will make production drop even further.

Dire image

So out they trot the bigger picture of wind energy once again: how we are dependent on dirty energy sources and that the environment can’t take any more CO2. Sun, wind and biomass are clean alternatives. But, they warn, if nobody wants a turbine in their back garden these will not be available on the scale we need any time soon.

That was the story twenty years ago and it still is. The difference is that the turbines have become synonymous not with clean energy but with ugliness. They have become mere blots on the landscape and for that dire image the environmentalists have themselves to blame.

This is an unofficial translation

Monday, April 25, 2011

Reply to Carl's Comment #2

Best to reply to Carl's last comment here in separate post because there is much not understood that everyone can benefit from. Carl's in white, mine in yellow.

The literature does not say what I should be producing, it says what was produced during real world condition independent testing, not the same tests that determines nameplate capacity or power at standard test conditions. I agree market dominated polycrystaline technology hardly ever deliver rated power as we seldom have standard test conditions in real world. However recent devolopments in photovoltaic technology is closing the gap with inmproved thermal coefficients and better aborbtion of diffused and low level light ei winter. Research tandem junction amorphous silicon. These panels have half the name plate efficiency as traditional solar panels but will out produce and provide a much more levelized production curve over an entire year. This technology can produce 1350kwh of energy over one year per installed kw.

I'll believe that when I see it.

And sell power at production cost? Be realistic, that will never happen. Unless you produce something yourself you will be purchasing it from someone else with a profit margin built into the cost. No one works for free and noone would invest capital into nuclear plants or coal refineries or anything else for that matter without a profitable return.

We produced power at cost for 80 years under government control. It's only since deregulation that profit became part of the cost to consumers. It needs to go back to not-for-profit.

The $0.802 rate is heaviliy dependent on the capital cost of equipment and is the rate used to get he ball rolling on alternative energy manfucaturing in Ontario. Increased manufacturing will lower the price of equipment which will be reflected with lower future fit rates as is clearly defined in the program description. Sooner or later, alternative energy costs will be on par with then below conventional energy resources but that wont happen unless it is invested in now.

Yeah, right. We've heard that before and it never happens. Wind and solar will never be viable alternative power sources because their Capacity Value is ZERO. Your power is not worth 80c. We have a glut of power, which is why the spot price is around 3c. We are paying you 80c to send your power to the US.

I agree that we should have cheap plentiful power but you will never reach that by harvesting diminishing energy sources(Just look at oil cost over the last 30 years, we have to pay for wars and better refinment techonolgy and off shore drilling just to fill up now).

Ontario does not use oil for power production. Not one erg of energy from your solar panels will offset increases in oil prices, it will just make that worse.

The sun provides virtually unlimited energy in the form of solar and wind and is right outside your front door for the taking.

Not even close. Not at night, not on cloudy days and not when the wind is not blowing. See my detailed analysis on wind here. Wind provides less than 5% of their name plate when demand is within 10% of peak. I plan to do the same thing with solar once the data is available.

When the cost of production gets low enough everyone will be able to purchase solar and battery technology cheaply and harvest free energy for life onsite without distribution, degradation, operational, profit grid upgrades costs etc etc etc. Tell me how you can beat that..

You have no clue what's involved in doing that. First, do you know how many batteries you will need? How much they cost? How long they last? Anwer: Hundreds, hundreds of $ each, less than 6 years.

Also, the retail cost of any product has nothing to do with the cost of production, its all in how much the market will bear. I agree it sucks when you get a 500 dollar hdyro bill after using hydro as sparingly as possible(which I have had several of) but its the price you pay for not producing it yourself. Noone is forcing you to purchase hydro from Hydro One. If you think you pay to much than produce it yourself or live without.

Right, we should all go back to living in the dark ages. This is the cost of producing power in Ontario: Hydro 2.3c, Coal 3-4c, Nukes 5-6c. They are the bulk of our power production (99%). Your "alternatives" will never contribute anything more than token power when we don't need it, and will drive up the cost. Do you know how many turbines would be needed to produce the same power as one nuke plant? Hence there is no excuse for power being expensive,. It's political ideology only that has rates this high.

And being off grid involves balancing your load profile with your generation profile on a continual basis and buffering the descrepancy with a battery storage system. Minimizing battery requirements is implemented with a system of variable technologies and effective load management. Battery techonology is also constantly improving, research Vanadium Redox, these batteries never lose capacity out and can be built incrementally with additions of an electrolyte fluid which is plentiful and safe for the environment.

Your ability to go off line has nothing to do with the technology. It has everything to do with the weather. Your panels have a rated capacity, the only time you will get near that is between 11am and 4pm on sunny July days. At best you might get is 75% name plate output during those hours. Add in some clouds and your output will plumet to less than 25%, add cloudy days and you get nothing. On sunny December days the highest output will be between noon and 2pm. But with the sun so low your output might hit 15% name plate.

Now, the number of panels will be a function of how many batteries you need. Your panels have to not only power your home but charge the batteries at the same time. The number of batteries will depend on how long you want them to power your home. So, in the winter, you have some 4 hours of daylight to power your home and charge your batteries. Those batteries will need to run your home for some 8-10 hours. So right there you will need at least 3 times the number of panels you think you need. Now add in cloudy days, and how many batteries AND panels would you need? Some 10 TIMES the number. It is not uncommon for us to go without the sun for weeks on end in November and December. You could fill your basement with hundreds of batteries and have thousands of square meters of panels, and not be able to deal with that. Then after 6 years or less, all those hundreds of batteries will have to be replaced. Going off grid is a pipe dream, and totally unnecessary in Ontario with our abundant renewable power we have been using for 100 years. But you cannot see that, so you will need to experience this yourself, but in the mean time, don't make us pay for your experment.

Technology is improving and gearing towards this. Stop badmouthing a solid path before researching and weighing all the facts. Our Energy future has a lot more faces than just he cost you pay at end.

This is not a solid path, it's entirely experimental. You don't even have a clue how many panels or batteries you will need until you hit the period you cannot run your home. I go on the physical realities of the situation, you have not provided that because you don't know what that is. I plan to spend time this summer visiting people with panels and getting real hard data on output.

I cannot send you a list as I have not had enough time to compile one over an extended period of time, however all indications including verbal verification from other system owners who have been running longer match research data so I am goin on that. I will gladly submit after one year to help improve your confidence in the system.

Please do. You will be greatly disappointed at your output.

16 ways to cut your hydro bill

When Claudette Trepanier made a few small changes in her daily routine to take advantage of off-peak hydro hours, she was able to shave $1, 200 a year from her hydro bill.

To encourage people like Trepanier, who lives in Ottawa, to use off-peak hours, when electricity is in low demand and cheaper, the Ontario Government introduced Smart Meters which track how much electricity households use and at what times. This weekend (May 1) the government rolled back the start of off-peak use to 7p.m. at night. until 7.a.m. so more people can take advantage of the savings.
The changes that Trepanier made to cut down her bill weren’t difficult and were easy to keep up. She waited until the weekend to do laundry, didn’t run her dishwasher until it was full and turned off the lights when she left a room.

“It wasn’t a huge lifestyle change. I just had to be conscious of when I was doing certain things,” said Trepanier.

With the price of hydro steadily on the rise, there are several small and easy changes you can make to keep your bill as low as possible. They include:


A lot of your hydro bill could be eaten up by ‘phantom power’, which is the electricity drawn even when an electronic device or appliance is not in use but still plugged in. This can account for up to 15 per cent of a household’s electricity use, or as much as $18.75 on the average household’s hydro bill. Using a programmable power bar to charge your electronics during off-peak hours can cut that cost in half.

Change your lights

Compact Fluorescent Bulbs (CFLs) use up to 75 per cent less energy than standard bulbs. According to Toronto Hydro, the average home has 30 light fixtures that consume close to $200 worth of electricity every year. By replacing five bulbs with ENERGY STAR qualified CFL bulbs in areas that require more than three hours of light a day saves approximately $30 a year.

Use a programmable thermostat

When Matthew Mackenzie’s parents became ‘snow birds’ a few years ago, he looked into ways to cut their home’s energy use while they were away. He programmed their thermostat to stay at 18°C during the winter months compared to the 22°C they usually left their home. This saved them around $15 on their electricity bill each month with minimal effort. Properly set, a programmable thermostat can reduce heating and cooling costs by up to 10 per cent.

Don’t be afraid to use ceiling fans

Fans are a great use of energy and can help keep your bills down. If you run them at the same time as the air conditioner, you can raise the temperature setting by 2°C, reducing your energy use by at least 10 per cent, according to the Ontario Energy Board.


Run your dishwasher during off-peak hours and only when it is full. Use the air-dry setting or leave the door open to naturally dry the dishes. Running your dishwasher during off-peak hours can save you about half the electricity charge than running it during peak hours.


According to Toronto Hydro, the cost of preparing a meal on an electric stove is cheaper than using a propane-run barbeque, especially during off peak periods. However, a natural gas fired-stove or barbeque is approximately 20 to 30 per cent cheaper in price than an electric stove.


Just like the dishwasher, you can cut your energy cost almost in half by running your dryer during off-peak hours. Also remember to keep your lint trap clean. Moisture can more easily pass through a clean lint trap, making your dryer more efficient.

Clothes Lines

Forego the cost of drying your clothes all together! Take advantage of summer weather and put your clothes on an outdoor clothes line to dry. If you don’t have enough room outside, you can air dry your clothes inside using a drying rack.


The most important thing to do to save money is run your washer using cold water, which cuts back electricity 85 to 90 per cent. Wait to do a full load of laundry, and do it only during off peak hours or weekends. When buying a new model, look for an ENERGY STAR qualified front-load model to reduce water use by almost 45 per cent and energy use by about 65 per cent.


Your refrigerators can be one of the biggest electricity users in the home. If you’re in the market for a new fridge, look for the ENERGY STAR symbol, which means it is at least 15 per cent more energy-efficient than the minimum federal standard and uses half as much electricity as a fridge that’s 10 years old. If you have an old fridge, and aren’t sure what to do with it, you can look into the Great Refrigerator Round Up offered by the Ontario Power Authority. Visit to learn more about this program.


Keep your freezer at -18°C. Setting your freezer colder than that will use more electricity. Remember that a full freezer operates more efficiently than a near-empty one. It is also important to keep 5 cm of space around your freezer so heat can circulate away from the compressors and condensing coil.

Showers vs. baths

Having a shower in the morning instead of a bath can drastically cut back your hydro bill. A five minute shower at 7 a.m. costs 20 cents, compared to a bath at the same time, which is more than double the cost at 50 cents.

Microwave vs. electric stove

Microwaves use up to 50 per cent less electricity than an electric stove. If you need to reheat or cook something on the fly, use your microwave.

Window treatments

Window treatments can reduce heat loss in the winter and keep out the heat of the summer. During the winter months it helps to retain heat inside the home. During the summer months it reflects heat back to the sun. The most important windows in your home for energy conservation are the south, east and west sides as they get the most sunlight. If you don’t want to treat your windows, blinds or window coverings will also do the trick.

Fall and winter

Make sure that the hydro you pay doesn’t literally go out the door by weather-proofing your home. In the fall or early winter, weather-strip your home around doors, fireplace dampers, attic hatches and air conditioners. By reducing drafts, you could save up to 30 per cent a year on heating costs.


Like many provincial power authorities, Hydro One, in partnership with the Ontario Power Authority, offers a range of programs, incentives and tools to save on electricity at home. To view some of the programs and ways you can save, visit:

For Toronto Hydro users, you can see how much hydro you’re using during peak and off peak hours, and even predict how much you would save if you used even more off peak hours at

Jennifer Stewart is an Ottawa-based writer. Reach her at


[RW: $1200?????? From small changes???? What's her total power bill? $10,000 a year? That's gotta be wrong. Making a change in behaviour like that you'd be lucky to save $100.

Besides that gross error, this article is so 1990's. Hey, Jennifer, get with the program, we've been doing this for years. There is almost nothing we can alter now. You want to lower power bills, then kill the Green Energy Act!]

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

The $540-million electricity tax

Parker Gallant Apr 19, 2011 – 4:58 PM ET

Ontario electricity consumers received the latest whack to their pocketbooks Tuesday. The Ontario Energy Board (OEB) announced that electricity rates will rise anywhere from 8% to 15% beginning May 1. The biggest increases will hit consumers who are part of the province’s brave new world of time of use (TOU) pricing. For off-peak electricity (between 11 pm to 7 am), the cost of electricity will jump 15% to 5.9 cents a kilowatt hour. Mid-peak electricity (early morning to 11 am and early evenings) jumps 10% from 8.1 to 8.9 cents per kWh. Peak use electricity (11 am to 5pm) rises 8% to 10.7 cents a kWh from 9.9 cents.

These rate increases come on top of a 12% increase last May. Note, also, that the increases are greater for off-peak than peak.

The near double-digit boost in the price of electricity increase (with a total annual value of about $540-million) pretty much wipes out the McGuinty government’s much-vaunted “electricity benefit.” Under the benefit, the government takes 10% off the electricity bills of consumers. But now the electricity companies will take most if not all of the 10% back.

In a disingenuous news release titled “Helping families, keeping electricity rates down,” Energy Minister Brad Duguid’s office tried to spin the official price increases by touting the 10% benefit without mentioning the near-10% increase in electricity rates just announced by the OEB. Nor does the government highlight the policy absurdity: Taxpayers will pay consumers a 10% reduction in their electricity bills to cover rising costs of electricity brought on by the government’s energy policies. Effectively, the government will tax Ontarian (or borrow now and tax later) to cover rising electricity costs.

For electricity users who are still not plugged into the province’s TOU-system, the average increase May 1 will be between 6% and 7%, depending on the tier. Second tier (over 600 kWh) electricity rates will rise to 7.4 cents a kWh. Most on the Regulated Price Plan (RPP) will be switched to TOU over the next several months so those still on the RPP will enjoy their lower increases for a short time only.

This year’s rate increases may not end here. The next OEB price review is schedule to take place Nov. 1. Will the OEB dodge the issue, since that date precedes by a few days a provincial election expected to have energy policy as a key topic?

With consumption basically flat year over year and hundreds of new high-price wind and solar systems entering the grid, the reality of the McGuinty Green Energy Plan, now nearing its second anniversary, is working its way into consumers bills. Prices are going up in large part to cover the costs of subsidies to the developers, big and small.

In short, Ontario is seeing the results of paying for rooftop solar installation like those at the IKEA stores, which receive 71.3 cents per kWh under the Feed-in-Tarriff (FIT) program. Meanwhile, these enterprises pay TOU rates for the actual power they consume. As that “renewable” energy enters the grid, the OEB forecasts the overall effect on the Global Adjustment (GA) account and resets the rates. The GA is a catch-all for all extra costs associated with the McGuinty government’s Green Energy Act. Those extras costs, pooled in the GA, are distributed among all ratepayers, who pick up the estimated costs through semi-annual rate adjustments. Last May it was 12%, although no rate increase was introduced last November.

Mr. Duguid’s press release Tuesday had the temerity to claim that “The Ontario Energy Board released updated electricity rates today showing the average household bill this May compared to May 2010 has remained flat.” Flat! It was flat only if you start counting time AFTER the 12% increase last May 1, and don’t count the new increases starting this May 1. No wonder Ontario’s books don’t balance.
As ratepayers we should express our thanks to the taxpayers for picking up the costs of that 10% “electricity benefit.” However, ratepayers are also taxpayers. Maybe it’s time we stopped shuffling the deck chairs and face the reality that the Liberals have mortgaged Ontario for the next 20 years through their irrational electricity policies created by the Green Energy Act.

Parker Gallant is a former Canadian banker who looked at his Ontario electricity bill and didn’t like what he saw.

Germany to close all nuke plants

This is one to watch.

Let's see how happy they will be when the country is freezing in the dark when the wind isn't blowing. By then it will be too late once the nuke plants are dismantled. Idiots.

This is what blind ideology does.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Reply To Carl's Comment

Carl posted this comment:

What a laughable article... I own a microfit project and this is a great opportunity for all ontarions. My solar panels consistently produce 1350 kwh/kw installed per year so a 10 kw system produces over $11,000 in revenue offering a modest but safe return on my investement (considering the fixed price/kw vs inflation and the fact that its not a compounded return). Would you rather have your electricity produced by dangerous sources with plants built with borrowed money that cant be serviced and ran by inefficient goverment. Trust me, a 20 year fixed price $0.80 per kw is cheap compared to the ongoing startup and operational costs of nuclear including escalation and inflation. Why dont you put a cork in that wine bottle and join the band wagon. It makes absolute sense to put production of electricity in the public hands. Some day us fit contract owners will have the means to be completely energy self sufficient and the cost to do so paid for by you.

OK, Carl. Why don't you go to your neighbours and ask them to pay 80c/kWh for your power and see the reply you get.

Do you know why the Ontario Government first build Ontario Hydro? What was the dream that Adam Beck wanted for all Ontarians? Cheap plentiful power AT COST. You see, at the turn of the century Ontario had several private power producers, like you, who were gouging consumers. The Province put an end to it with Ontario Hydro. The next government will put an end to your "investment.", you can count on that.

Let's take your position to the extreme. You ask all Ontarians to produce their own power with solar. Can I ask you how you plan to do that on cloudy days or at nighttime? Can you show us how power at 10 times the current price is good for Ontarians? Maybe you think it is for you and your retirement fund. But consumers of power should not be your personal piggy bank. It's economic suicide and will have to be stopped.

Now, you claim your panels produce 1350kWh of power per year. How much does your home consume per year? Here is my consumption for 2010: 19,000kWh (a 1000sqr ft home with 2 people). You didn't even produce 1/10th of my consumption bud.

Plus, explain to me how a meager 1350kWh of power at $0.80/kWh comes to $11,000. That's only $1,080 per year.

I would really like to see your daily output numbers since the beginning. Care to share it with us?

Email me.

No more bull from Bullfrog Power Inc.

Send a Message: Stop funding professional subsidy parasites by Sue-Ann Levy, Toronto Sun Let’s call it the latest bit of bull left over from the Days of David Miller. For the past three years, the city has been paying as much as a 50% premium to heat and keep the lights on at City Hall and Nathan Phillips Square using green, renewable energy. The three-year electricity contract with Bullfrog Power Inc. cost the city an extra $463,000 this year and as much as $500,000 more per year since it was first put in place in 2008, chief corporate officer Bruce Bowes told the Toronto Sun. That’s on top of the $1 million to $1.5 million (this year) Bowes says it costs to power City Hall and the square using conventional electricity provided by Toronto Hydro, which also delivers green energy to Bullfrog customers through its grid. The city is Toronto Hydro’s sole shareholder. Bowes said he presented a report to the budget advisory committee in February 2008 in which he tried to “meet some of the obligations” council had directed him to pursue to power 25% of the city’s electricity needs using green sources — meaning from sources such as wind and small hydro facilities. That report points out that the amount of available green power from new installations is “very limited” and estimates if there is enough of a supply available, it would be offered at a premium of anywhere from 40% to 100% over conventional electricity. The report also says that the cost of purchasing 25% of the city’s electricity requirements — both for city departments and agencies, boards and commissions — would range from $9.5 million to $20.9-million extra depending on the type of green power purchased. Tom Heintzman, president of Bullfrog Power, said green energy costs more because conventional energy is “subsidized in a number of different ways.” It also gives consumers a choice to fund renewable projects, he told me from Charlottetown, P.E.I. where its city hall is being green-powered through the harnessing of wind. Bullfrog has 300 business and 2,000 residential customers in the Toronto area. Bowes says he recommended powering only City Hall and Nathan Phillips Square — plus a portion of the city’s electric vehicles and the electric ice resurfacer — with green energy to keep to the council-approved maximum expenditure of $500,000 a year. It made sense, he says, because council was trying to showcase City Hall as an “environmentally modernized sustainable entity” — a move that also included installing a $3 million green podium roof and connecting City Hall with Enwave’s Deep Lake Water Cooling (air conditioning) system at a cost of $2 million. Bowes said they went through a request for proposals (RFP) and Bullfrog Power was awarded the contract. Asked if any other suppliers were providing green power, he said he didn’t know how many responded to the RFP. “But I know at the time Bullfrog was one of the only ones around doing it,” he said of the company which has been in the green energy business since 2005. It sure didn’t hurt that Heintzman was, shall we say, a part of Miller’s inner circle, and not just on the environmental file. A Feb. 25, 2008 memo from Miller to council thanks Heintzman for his “interest and diligence” in being part of a Corporations Nominating Panel that recruited and recommended candidates for the Toronto Community Housing Corp. board. I’m presuming that at least some of the board members he helped recruit were part of the mass resignation in early March. Heintzman was also on the nominating committees for Build Toronto and Invest Toronto boards. “It’s only been since he was mayor that we’ve reconnected,” he said when asked how long they’ve known each other. Miller also singled out Heintzman as a “green leader” in this city in one of his final messages in the spring 2010 issue of the city publication, Our Toronto. Bowes conceded the contract, which comes up for renewal in September, will probably be on the “chopping block” because of budget problems in 2012. Budget chief Mike Del Grande agreed, doubting very much the contract will be renewed. “It won’t be seeing the light of day,” he said.

We're paying others to use our electricity - again John Spears Business Reporter Ontario’s cheap power advantage 'gone' Why you pay so much for hydro New power lines will cost $4 billion As most Ontario residents slept between 4 a.m. and 5 a.m. on April 10, they unknowingly deposited a credit of $228,625.86 in the accounts of electricity users in Quebec, New York and Michigan. Some big businesses in Ontario who run 24/7 enjoyed some similar largesse, though it’s impossible to say just how much. Welcome to springtime in Ontario, when the weather warms, the rivers gush, and the price of power drops not just to zero, but below. The mild weather stifles demand for both heating and air conditioning, while fast-flowing rivers help pump out power. The result: Surplus electricity. And that means some export and business customers actually get paid to use the Ontario’s province’s power. And while the phenomenon only occurs for an hour here and an hour there at present, a report from the province’s power market operator has signalled that it could occur regularly in the future — as often as one day in every seven. The past week has seen 11 hours in which prices on Ontario’s wholesale market were less than zero: • On Monday, prices dipped below zero for five hours during the night, going as low as minus 12.2 cents a kilowatt hour. • On Sunday, prices were also negative for five hours, dipping to minus 12.8 cents a kilowatt hour at the lowest. • The price fell to minus 2.2 cents a kilowatt hour for an hour on Saturday. In all, the province’s electricity system paid $1.377 million this past weekend to dispose of the surplus power. And it’s happened before: Ontario has racked up 25 hours of negative prices so far in 2011. The negative prices, unfortunately, do not mean that householders will get a refund or a credit on their next bill. Residents are generally locked in to regulated prices, or time of use rates. Others are committed to fixed prices under retail contracts, which don’t vary as market prices rise and fall. But larger business users who consume more than 250,000 kilowatt hours a year and are charged the market rate for electricity, can actually receive a credit for the power they use when prices are below zero. So can large customers in neighbouring states and provinces, which trade power back and forth with Ontario. That electricity goes through the hands of traders, who may sell directly to U.S. utilities or to industrial customers. The trades can occur at greatly varying prices through the day. At times, Ontario may be exporting power to Michigan while it’s importing from Quebec, or vice versa. Ontario’s U.S. trading partners often have higher retail prices than Ontario, while Quebec has much lower retail prices. Low prices in Ontario are common at this time of year, says Terry Young, vice president of the Independent Electricity System Operator, which runs the province’s power market. Surplus power and negative prices can be an opportunity for businesses that can boost production, said Young. “There are customers who can respond to this,” he said. Adam White, who heads the association of Major Power Consumers of Ontario, agrees, but says he’d like to see greater incentives built into the market so that when surpluses develop and prices go negative, Ontario industries are encouraged to soak up the surplus and enjoy the short-term benefit – not export customers. That would mean designing greater incentives to encourage big users to shut down during summer peaks, when the system is under stress from high demand. While power surpluses have been modest and intermittent over the past week, a report earlier this year warned that if no action is taken, surpluses periods will grow. Ontario could have surplus power on its hands one day out of every seven by 2013. Delicate talks are currently under way with wind generators, to see if there are ways to limit the flow of wind power onto the grid during periods of surplus. So if some customers are being paid to take Ontario’s power, who’s paying them? The answer is, ultimately, that all customers bear the cost of giving away surplus power, or paying others to take it. That may seem unfair to consumers, who can’t benefit from the giveaway power, but still underwrite the cost. Energy minister Brad Duguid acknowledges the anomaly, but says consumers have to look at the whole ebb and flow of the market, rather than a few days. Trade in electricity is continuous, and isolating a few days of trading when the province had surplus power doesn’t show the whole picture, he says. Most of the time, he said Ontario is selling at a profit. “When you put it all together, consumers made $1.5 billion since 2006 from our exports.” That included some days in which Ontario’s neighbours had to dump surplus power — and the Ontario system was paid to take it. Young of the IESO notes that Ontario businesses that profit occasionally from negative prices also have to take the consequences when prices shoot up during period of high demand. A business that draws one megawatt of power would have received a credit of about $814 for the 25 hours of negative prices that have occurred so far in 2011, he said. But it would have paid $3,065 to use the same amount of power during the 25 top-priced hours of the year. Consumers are sheltered from those spikes by regulated prices or fixed price contracts. Also read: Power firms paid millions not to generate power Electricity prices to double under new plan

Good Pickens in the Wind

By Parker Gallant Back in May 2008, T. Boone Pickens, the billionaire Texas oil baron placed an order with GE for wind turbines. The order was for $2-billion. He had a vision to create the largest wind project in the world in Texas. By July of 2009 however, the “Pickens Plan” was postponed. Tight financial markets and trouble distributing the energy were given as the principal reasons. By that time the US was in the midst of a deep recession, demand for power had fallen and shale gas was front and centre on the energy scene so I’m sure some of that played into the decision. Thankfully for Mr. Pickens, the Ontario Liberals had just passed the Green Energy Act and his Mesa Power Group founded the American Wind Alliance (AWA) and discovered Ontario. The AWA linked up with Chuck Edey, President of Leader Resources Services Corp out of Kincardine, Ontario. Leader was and still is a developer and seller of wind projects, including a 200 MW wind project that they developed and sold to Enbridge. Mr. Edey was also President of Echo Energy, an Ontario based operating gas company out of London, and listed on the TSX Venture Exchange. Since 2003, Echo lost almost $30 million of shareholders funds which was blamed on the falling gas market. Presumably, as a result, Echo were petitioned into bankruptcy by their secured lender and the court appointed KPMG as receiver manager. KPMG in turn appointed Mr. Edey’s, Leader Resources to manage Echo’s assets under their watchful eye. As was recently reported in the London Free Press the winning bidder (out of four reportedly received) was Magmum Gas Corp. Co-incidentally the President of Magmum is Mr. Edey. According to the above noted article the OSC is reportedly trying to ferret out some information on the various relationships but KPMG will not disclose what they are seeking, so the OSC may be forced to take the matter before the courts. Despite the turmoil, Leader has moved several projects forward on behalf of AWA and Mr. Pickens. Two of these represent 265 MW and will hook up to the Bruce Milton transmission lines that Hydro One are currently constructing. Two others totalling 300 MW are also on the Ontario Power Authority’s (OPA) priority list. These four were the only ones identifiable when I asked the OPA to provide information. The reason the OPA spokesperson was unable to provide the information was; “The FIT contract management process requires project proponents to submit applications under a legal applicant name and project legal name; therefore, we cannot verify if these projects are owned by a larger corporate entity or counter party.” So it appears the OPA cannot tell us who is behind any of the wind turbine contracts that they actually sign! The list of projects the OPA sent was a list that went to nine (9) pages. A quick tally of the “priority” wind projects indicated we should expect another 6,000 MW (approximately 3000 turbines) of wind to enter the grid over the next couple of years further driving up the costs of electricity. On the AWA projects I was able to discern that Mr. Pickens will find a good home for some of those turbines that he ordered; as GE turbines were identified as ones that would be erected at two of the projects. The projects will presumably somehow meet the “local content” requirement under the Green Energy Act, although local council in Saugeen Shores has established much tougher setback rules then the GEA requires for one of the two approved Leader led projects. Parker Gallant,April 13, 2011

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Denmark has seen Ontario's future: Goldstein

Denmark has seen Ontario's future: Goldstein 20% of nordic nation’s electricity from wind power — with sky-high costs and no reduction in emissions By LORRIE GOLDSTEIN, Toronto Sun Last Updated: April 10, 2011 2:11am If you want to see the future of Premier Dalton McGuinty’s push for wind power in Ontario, look at Denmark today. It has more than doubled its wind power production over the past decade or so and today produces almost 20% of its electricity from wind. Denmark has been praised by everyone from U.S. President Barack Obama to New York Times global warming guru Thomas Friedman, for leading the international fight against climate change. That was one of the reasons Copenhagen was chosen as the site of the UN’s 2009 meeting of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change in its bid to draft, unsuccessfully as it turned out, a successor agreement to the Kyoto accord. But despite all this green happy-talk, as veteran energy journalist Robert Bryce observes in his book, Power Hungry: The myths of ‘green’ energy and the real fuels of the future, Denmark’s reality tells a different story. “(A) close look at Denmark’s energy sector shows that its embrace of wind power has not resulted in ‘energy independence’,” Bryce writes, “nor has it made a major difference in the country’s carbon dioxide emissions, coal consumption, or oil use. “Despite massive subsidies for the wind industry and years of hype about the wonders of Denmark’s energy policies, the Danes now have some of the world’s most expensive electricity … And in 2007, their carbon dioxide emissions were at about the same level as they were two decades ago.” The problems confronting Denmark are the same ones Ontarians are starting to experience. Because wind turbines cannot supply continuous, on-demand power, Denmark has to back them up with conventional energy sources that emit greenhouse gases, in its case, coal-fired electricity plants. In Ontario, McGuinty is slowly replacing Ontario’s coal-fired plants with natural gas ones to back up wind. But while natural gas burns far more cleanly than coal, it’s still a fossil fuel which emits carbon dioxide, is expensive to transport, highly flammable, and contains methane, a greenhouse gas 20 times more powerful than carbon dioxide. This makes leaks both an environmental and safety concern. Because the electricity generated by wind turbines cannot be stored, Denmark ends up selling up to two-thirds of it to Germany, Sweden and Norway at below-market rates. Bryce notes in September, 2009, the Danish Center for Political Studies reported, “exported wind power paid for by Danish householders, brings material benefits in the form of cheap electricity and delayed investment in new generation equipment for consumers in Sweden and Norway, but nothing for Danish consumers.” These problems are just starting in Ontario where, on New Year’s Day, hydro customers (us) had to pay Quebec and the U.S. $1.5 million to take our excess wind energy. That was due to a combination of mild weather, low power demand on a holiday and the fact Ontario’s contracts with wind farm operators specify it must pay them for their electricity, regardless of whether it’s needed. This will become increasingly frequent in Ontario in future, as more wind energy comes on line. Bryce’s theme in Power Hungry is the global debate over renewable energy has been dominated by scientifically illiterate politicians making wildly optimistic claims about how quickly renewable energy can replace fossil fuels. He’s also an inveterate number cruncher, who uses an array of statistics to show how incredibly naive this discussion has become. Bryce’s proposed solution, written in 2010 before Japan’s Fukushima nuclear disaster, is controversial — exploiting major new natural gas finds globally to gradually take over much of the work now done by oil and coal, before transitioning to nuclear power. Power Hungry is a heavy but rewarding read for anyone who wants to understand the real challenges we face in moving away from a fossil fuel economy to renewable energy. And that the happy talk we’ve been hearing from politicians, environmentalists and pundits about how relatively quick and easy it will be, is nonsense.