, , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Here from Ottawa-based energy economist Robert Lyman, a commentary on how Ontario’s electricity system has evolved. (You may also wish to read a letter in today’s Ottawa Citizen by wind industry lobby group the Canadian Wind Energy Association president Robert Hornung, who would have us believe wind power is the cheapest source of power available. )

For most of Ontario’s history, the official energy policy of successive provincial governments was generally the same. The Province sought to keep electricity prices as low as possible consistent with the goal of ensuring that Ontario consumers and industry had secure and reliable sources of supply. With the election of a Liberal government in 2003, the goal changed. Since then, the Government has raised electricity costs significantly, emphasizing reliance on expensive industrial wind turbines, solar plants and biomass for generation, and using higher rates to force consumers to cut back on their energy use.

The consequences of those policies have been a doubling of residential electricity rates and the ever-increasing share of renewable energy generation as part of the provincial electricity generation mix. According to data from the Ontario Power Authority, in 2014 biomass, industrial wind turbines and solar plants will provide about four per cent of Ontario electricity supply, but will cost consumers $1.933 billion dollars, or 17 per cent, of the total generation cost. The amount of renewable energy brought on line is expected to increase significantly by 2018, adding further to the costs.

The Ontario Long Term Energy Plan, published in December 2013, included a table projecting what this will mean for the average residential customer who consumes 800 KWh of electricity per month. Taking into account the costs of electricity generation, transmission, distribution, taxes and related regulatory charges, the average monthly bill will rise from $125 in 2013 to 181 in 2020, a 45 per cent increase. Large industrial users will see their rates rise from $79 per MWh in 2013 to $104 in 2020, a 32 per cent increase.

These increases do not take into the account the significant costs associated with having to provide significant back up capacity because the wind and solar plants are “intermittent” sources of supply. This means that they usually produce energy when it is not needed, and production from these plants cannot be varied to accommodate changes in demand.  Ontario generation capacity now exceeds demand, and the Green Energy and Economy Act requires that renewable energy sources be given preferential access to the provincial grid over lower cost conventional supplies. The increases in rates do not take account of the cost of curtailing operations at existing plants or of losses on export sales. In 2013 this was about $1 billion.

So, do Ontario residents at least get more secure electricity supplies as a result of all these increased costs? The answer lies in…

Please read the rest of Mr LYman’s article here: ONTARIO ELECTRICITY – High Prices, Low Reliability