Tuesday, August 31, 2010


Dear Mr. Wakefield,

I to like yourself and many other Ontarians recently have received " a horrific Hydro Bill. Beyond comprehension really!

I received a phone call from them this morning informing me of my bill, at my camp, not residence was over $3500 dollars. They tried to explain to me this was because they have never read the meter at my camp since 2007. I have called in the meter reading several times over the past 3 years. What a croc this is!

Furthermore, the women from Hydro One Customer Service, Colleen, when asked why my meter was read last, she told me May 7th by someone from administration and my old meter was replaced on May 13, 2010. Shortly there after, I received my Statement, it was over $1,300 dollars!!!!!! I called to question the bill and the women said, if it is not paid by the 13th, "there will be an order to cut your power". So I paid it.

Today's bill, was insane and a shock to say the least. I don't know if this helps you or how I join your group or cause, but let me know.


Hi. I have been following your blog for awhile now. I live in Northwestern Ont, in an area that has been hit hard by the recession, just like so many others. We are trying to bring attention to the rising hydro costs and was wondering what else we can do. We have had many people send letters to our MMP office (that was what we were told to do, to create a paper trail and get the ball rolling) We have created a facebook page were people have been sharing their stories. One person recieved a $1200 amortization bill (way more than their mortage payment). Families, and single mothers are scared of losing their children, because Hydro threatens to cut them off if they don't pay these big bills right away. So they are begging everyone they know for money so they don't lose their hydro, and have Children's Aid step in and take the children due to unfit living conditions. (no hydro)

Below is the link to the facebook page if you would like to check it out, and maybe give suggestions. http://www.facebook.com/home.php?#!/pages/Join-the-fight-against-Hydro-1-rates/137968316227047

So I was wondering what else, and who else can we contact to get our plight noticed? You seemed to have been working on this for awhile now and any advice you can give me would be great. I was also thinking of contacting CBC and Global and explaining the story. Thanks in advance for any help, and I understand if you aren't able to get back to me due to time constraints.


Hi Richard, my friend Jacqui Laport sent me your email and website. I want to join in on whatever it takes to fix this. I am a single mom, big house, but all energy efficient and a ton of cash I have paid to do that, energy assessments and all. Went from 25% energy efficient to 78%. My kwh usage is generally around 300 to 500 per month. Two months ago they installed a smart meter, but havent started charging the peak hours as yet. I live in St. Thomas. My last bill was huge, and said I used 980 kwh. I called and they said oh its because its been hot, in July 2008 you used 720 kwh. I gave them that I guess, what do I know. I told them that yes I do use air, but I keep it hight like 76 or 77 to keep the bills down. there is just my son and myself. This month though, the kwh went to 1290! Its more than doubled, and its only since they have put this thing on. I can not afford my hydro!!!!! and I need your help.


I would like to be added to a list of people being ripped off. I have been paying double for two years. I though it was the energy my tenants were using. I have not had tenants for two months, bills were the same.

Did not change anything with my consumption or appliances, with new meter installed went from 66 kWh per day to 27.

When they checked my meter they said it was good. I demanded it to be checked in a lab.

I hope something can be done



I would like to thank you for your blog, and all your hard work keeping all of us informed. Richard I have just recieved my hydro bill from Enersource in Mississauga Ontario. My bill is billed every 65 days, I was shocked, angry and more angry with my recent bill, which was more than double my normal bill. My average bill is about $96 without taxes, this recent bill was at $223 without taxes. I understand all variables involved, yes it has been a very hot and humid summer thus far, yes I understand Dalton Mcliar HST included, and yes u understand my rate as of May 1 as risen from 5.6 cents to 6.5 for first 600kwh and 7.5 kWh thereafter. My usage for this past month was 1806kwh, where as a normal month usages varies from 600 kWh to 710kwh. Sure I have had the odd month in winter where I would be at 1002 kWh max. Therefore I am lost to how this month has been so much consumption, I have never come close to that usage in the 2 years I have been living here, I live in a condo townhome aproxx 1510 sq ft. Richard can you advise me on how to approach Enersource, and as well what more history do you need in order to proceed with your plans of action.

Thank You




Wind Energy Gets Huge Subsidies. So Where Are The CO2 Reductions?

Wind Energy Gets Huge Subsidies.
So Where Are The CO2 Reductions?

Over the last few years, the wind industry has achieved remarkable growth largely due to the industry’s claim that using more wind energy will result in major reductions in carbon dioxide emissions. There’s just one problem with that claim: it’s not true. Recent studies show that wind-generated electricity may not result in any reduction in carbon emissions, or those reductions will be so small as to be almost meaningless.

This issue is especially important now that states, even in the absence of federal legislation, are mandating that utilities produce arbitrary amounts of their electricity from renewable sources. By 2020, for example, California will require utilities to obtain 33% of their electricity from renewables. About 30 states including Connecticut, Minnesota, and Hawaii, are requiring major increases in the production of renewable electricity over the coming years. Wind, not solar or geothermal sources, must provide most of this electricity, because it is the only renewable source that can rapidly scale up to meet the requirements of the mandate. But those mandates will mean billions more in taxpayer subsidies for the wind industry and result in higher electricity costs for consumers.

There are two reasons wind can’t make major cuts in carbon emissions. The wind blows only intermittently and variably; and wind-generated electricity largely displaces power produced by natural gas-fired generators rather than that coming from plants that burn more carbon-intensive coal.

Because the wind is not dependable, electric utilities must either keep their conventional power plants running all the time (much like “spinning reserve” in industry parlance) to make sure the lights don’t go dark, or they must continually ramp up and down the output from conventional coal- or gas-fired generators (“cycling”).

Coal-fired and gas-fired generators are designed to run continuously. If they don’t, fuel consumption, and emissions of key air pollutants, generally increases. A car analogy helps explain the reason: An automobile that operates at a constant speed -- say, 55 miles per hour -- will have better fuel efficiency, and emit less pollution per mile traveled, than one that is stuck in stop-and-go traffic. But the wind, by its very nature, is stop-and-go. The result: minimal or no reductions in carbon emissions by shifting conventional generation to wind.

In 2008, a British energy consultant, James Oswald, along with two co-authors, published a study in the journal Energy Policy, which said that any reductions in Britain’s carbon dioxide emissions due to added wind generation capacity “will be less than expected.” The study went on to say that neither the extra costs of cycling the power plants “nor the increased carbon production are being taken into account in the government figures for wind power.”

An April study by Bentek Energy, a Colorado-based energy analytics firm, looked at power plant records in Colorado and Texas. (It was commissioned by the Independent Petroleum Association of the Mountain States.) Bentek concluded that despite huge investments, wind-generated electricity “has had minimal, if any, impact on carbon dioxide” emissions. Thanks to the cycling of Colorado’s coal-fired plants in 2009, for example, at least 94,000 more pounds of carbon dioxide were generated because of the repeated cycling. In Texas, Bentek estimated that the cycling of power plants due to increased use of wind energy resulted in a slight savings of carbon dioxide (about 600 tons) in 2008 and a slight increase (of about 1,000 tons) in 2009.

This month, the US Association for Energy Economics published a paper by Ross Baldick, a professor of electrical and computer engineering at the University of Texas at Austin, which concluded that new wind generation capacity “may not be decreasing greenhouse emissions. However, even assuming that wind displaces fossil emissions, it is not ‘worthwhile’ for reducing greenhouse emissions” even if regulators put a price on carbon dioxide of up to $35 per ton.
The problems posed by the intermittency and variability of wind energy could quickly be cured if only we had an ultra-cheap method of storing large quantities of energy. If only. The problem of large-scale energy storage has bedeviled inventors for centuries. Alessandro Volta and Thomas Edison both produced working batteries. Edison spent years working on battery technology, sinking about $30 million of his own money (in current dollars) into his quest for a durable, high-capacity battery. He had some success. But modern batteries have the same suite of problems that Edison faced: they are too big, too expensive, too finicky, and lack durability.
Other solutions for energy storage like compressed air energy storage and pumped water storage are viable, but like batteries, those technologies are expensive. And even if the cost of energy storage falls dramatically -- thereby making wind energy truly viable -- who will pay for it? Further, even if we have a dramatic breakthrough in energy storage, the deployment of that new technology will likely take decades.

Despite the lack of storage, the US and other countries continue to deploy huge amounts of new wind generation capacity and that expense is being undertaken with the assumption that wind energy will lower carbon dioxide emissions. But federal authorities have done some estimates on how more wind energy will affect emissions. And those estimates are revealing.

Last year, the Energy Information Administration estimated the potential savings from a proposed nationwide 25% renewable electricity standard, a goal that was included in the Waxman-Market energy bill which narrowly passed the US House last year. In its best-case scenario, the annual carbon dioxide savings from that mandate would be about 306 million tons by 2030. Given that the EIA expects annual US carbon dioxide emissions to be about 6.2 billion tons in 2030, that expected reduction will only equal about 4.9% of US emissions. That’s not much when you consider that the Obama administration wants to cut US carbon dioxide emissions by 80% by 2050.

Earlier this year, another arm of the Department of Energy, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, released a report whose conclusions were remarkably similar to those of the EIA. This report focused on integrating wind energy into the electric grid in the eastern US, which has about two-thirds of all US electric load. If wind energy were to meet 20% of electric needs in the eastern US by 2024, according to the report, the likely reduction in carbon emissions would be less than 200 million tons per year. (All the scenarios in the NREL analysis cost a minimum of $140 billion to implement and the issue of cycling conventional power plants is only mentioned in passing.)

Coal emits about twice as much carbon dioxide during combustion as natural gas. But wind generation mostly displaces natural gas because natural gas-fired generators are often the most costly form of conventional electricity production. That said, if regulators are truly concerned about carbon emissions (and cutting air pollution) they should be encouraging gas-fired generation at the expense of coal. And they should be doing so because drillers are unlocking galaxies of natural gas from shale beds, so much so that US natural gas resources are now likely large enough to meet all of America’s natural gas needs for a century.

Meanwhile, the wind industry is pocketing subsidies that dwarf those garnered by the oil and gas sector. The federal government provides a production tax credit of $0.022 for each kilowatt-hour of electricity produced by wind. That amounts to $6.44 per million BTU of energy produced. Meanwhile, a 2008 EIA report said subsidies to the oil and gas sector totaled $1.9 billion per year, or about $0.03 per million BTU of energy produced. Thus, on a raw, per-unit-of-energy-produced basis, subsidies to the wind sector are more than 200 times as great as those given to the oil and gas sector.

Kevin Forbes, the director of the Center for the Study of Energy and Environmental Stewardship at Catholic University, told me that “Wind energy gives people a nice warm fuzzy feeling that we’re taking action on climate change.” But when it comes to carbon dioxide emissions, “the reality is that it’s not doing much of anything.”


Tuesday, August 24, 2010


I'm still getting emails from people about having bills they cannot afford and are at the end of their rope. Rest assured I have been passing these along to some individuals which I will tell you about later as things progress. With the Ottawa Citizen posting 2 articles now highly critical of this government's policies expect the movement to spread. But there is more we can do individually to help that along.

In a previous blog, back at the beginning, I noted how increasing energy costs squeezes people so they have less available discretionary income. That bite is clearly happening. So this is my suggestion.

Every store you go into, where you usually shop, call the manager over and tell them you have to reduce your spending at this store because your hydro bills are so high. Shops and stores need to be aware that government policies are costing them customers. And unless you state so specifically to them, they won't be able to know specifically why their sales are flat or falling.

Soon as the HST hit I called Rogers and told them to cancel the movie channels because adding the HST put their service out of our budget.

Tax people too much, which is what power costs are, just another form of taxes, businesses will see less people spending.

So help the cause and talk to your store managers.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Hydro prices 'going up like a rocket'


Hydro prices 'going up like a rocket'

Homeowners should be 'outraged,' expert says, as increases take hundreds from people's wallets

By Don Butler, The Ottawa Citizen August 22, 2010

Electricity prices in Ontario are "going up like a rocket," fuelled in part by the Ontario government's Green Energy Act, says a longtime observer of the province's energy scene.

"You are going to get screwed, and it's going to be painful," said Tom Adams, a Toronto-based consultant and a former executive director of Energy Probe.

"We're talking about hundreds of dollars a year out of your pocketbook that didn't need to happen. I'm livid about it. People should be outraged." Hydro Ottawa customers have already been hit with a double-digit increase this year, thanks to rate hikes approved May 1 by the Ontario Energy Board (OEB) and the imposition of the harmonized sales tax July 1.

A typical consumer in Ottawa who uses 800 kilowatt hours of electricity now pays $116.82 a month, including tax, according to the OEB.

That's 17.7 per cent more than the $99.35 a month the same residential customer was paying in April. Half the increase is due to higher rates and half because of the HST.

Adams warned that Ontarians should expect to pay at least $110 more a year by the end of 2011 for electricity. That translates into an additional nine-per-cent increase.

After that, rates will move steadily up for four or five years, he predicted.

The OEB has already received several applications for more hefty rate increases.

Hydro One, which operates most of the province's long-distance transmission lines, has asked for a hike of 15.7 per cent in 2011 and 9.8 per cent in 2012. If approved, the increases would apply to the transmission portion of electricity bills.

Ontario Power Generation, which produces about 70 per cent of Ontario's power, has asked for a 6.2-per-cent price increase effective next March. It scaled that back from 9.6 per cent after pressure from Energy Minister Brad Duguid.

Traditionally, Ontarians have paid less for power than Americans. But now, said Adams, "we are leaving them in our dust." He calculated that Ontario electricity rates passed the average U.S. price for the first time early this year, and are now nearly 15 per cent higher.

Adams assigned much of the blame for the rise in electricity rates to Ontario's Green Energy Act, which promotes the use of solar, wind and other alternative power sources.

The Feed-in Tariff (FIT) program, which locks in generous payments for 20 years for large green energy projects, is "just outrageous," Adams said.

The program's rates are far in excess of current electricity prices. The FIT program, for example, offers producers between 44.3 cents and 71.3 cents per kilowatt hour for solar power, and between 13.5 and 19 cents for wind power.

By contrast, the average weighted price for electricity so far this year is 4.02 cents per kilowatt hour.

Four FIT projects are already operating commercially, as are more than 700 small-scale projects under the companion microFIT program, which offers even richer incentives.

Adams said FIT projects will drive up electricity bills as they generate more and more of Ontario's power.

Because 20-year contracts have already been offered for FIT projects totalling more than 2,600 megawatts of power, Adams said, "it's now too late to avoid hundreds of dollars per year of increases." But Tom Carpenter, a research associate at Queen's University's Institute for Energy and the Environment, said claims that green energy will drive up the price of electricity are "simply false." Over the next two or three years, Carpenter said, the impact of FIT projects on electricity rates will be negligible, because the high-priced renewable energy will only represent a tiny fraction of the province's generating capacity.

As the program expands, he said, economies of scale will kick in and prices will come down sharply.

Another impending shift that could raise costs for residential customers is the advent of time-of-use pricing.

Unless they've signed electricity contracts, Ottawa residents now pay the Ontario Energy Board's regulated price for hydro. For the first 600 hours of consumption in summer -- and the first 1,000 hours in winter -- they pay 6.5 cents per kilowatt hour, and then 7.5 cents for each kilowatt hour beyond that.

But smart meters, now installed at virtually all Ottawa residences, make it possible to bill customers at three variable rates, depending on when they use electricity.

The current time-of-use rates are: n 5.3 cents per kilowatt hour between 9 p.m. and 7 a.m., n 8 cents from 7 a.m. to 11 a.m. and from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m., and n 9.9 cents from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Hydro Ottawa plans to shift 4,750 customers to time-of-use billing in November, a further 30,000 early next year and the balance by June 2011. Those who've signed contracts with electricity suppliers won't be affected.

While time-of-use pricing should be cost-neutral overall, Adams said, some people will pay more and some will pay less, depending on their consumption patterns.

Pilot projects in Toronto found many small businesses saved money while residential customers, on average, paid about eight per cent more for their electricity.

Adams said "substantial increases" are also on the horizon for electrical transmission and distribution.

One driver is an OEB decision last December that allowed local utilities to increase their allowed rate of profit. The decision bumped Hydro Ottawa's allowed return on equity to 9.85 per cent from 8.57 per cent.

There's some public benefit to that because the City of Ottawa is Hydro Ottawa's sole owner, but "that is going to drive the distribution and transmission components of the bill up by more than 10 per cent just in and of itself," Adams said.

© Copyright (c) The Ottawa Citizen

Read more: http://www.ottawacitizen.com/technology/Hydro+prices+going+like+rocket/3428780/story.html#ixzz0xMjGp0Rh

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Ontario’s Power Trip: Power without the people

How a tiny group of vested interests — the Ontario Sustainable Energy Association — holds sway
By Parker Gallant

In the political power corridors where the Ontario government’s green energy regime is legislated, regulated, discussed, manipulated, twisted, turned and imposed on the people, one group keeps cropping up: the Ontario Sustainable Energy Association (OSEA). Among other things, the OSEA claims prime responsibility for the Ontario Green Energy Act, the 2009 legislation that introduced massive subsidies to green energy and triggered multibillion-dollar spending on wind and solar power and new transmission infrastructure.

OSEA’s political clout scored another victory last Friday when the Ontario government reversed itself on a plan — announced July 2 — to cut the massive subsidy price paid for small-scale solar electricity to 58¢ for each kilowatt hour from 80¢. The cut, to be imposed on 16,000 solar project applicants, would have saved $1-billion. But now, under lobbying from OSEA, Ontario Energy Minister Brad Duguid has reversed himself. The new price would be 64¢ but the old price of 80¢ would be paid on all projects for which applications had been received as of Aug. 13.
Not only would the $1-billion savings be lost, new costs would be added since — mysteriously — the number of solar project applications had jumped to 19,000 from 16,000 since July 2. It was a tribute to the influence of OSEA, whose slogan is “Power to the People” — even if that power is priced at 80¢ a kWh. As somebody once joked, at that price you could shine a light on a solar power panel and make money.

Any group that powerful deserves attention. I tracked OSEA down recently at the Ontario Energy Board, the provincial regulator charged with overseeing Ontario’s multibillion-dollar electricity system. OSEA had submitted a request to the OEB to act as an intervenor at the board’s regulatory proceedings. In this case, the OEB had established a consultation process to discuss transmission facilities to connect renewable power to the grid.

The grid plan was imposed on Hydro One, the province’s transmission giant, by former energy minister George Smitherman in a directive last September. The directive, issued under new Green Energy Act powers, told Hydro One to spend $2.3-billion to connect the province’s new heavily subsidized solar and wind energy generators to the provincial power system.

Even though a directive exists to expand the grid, the OEB is going through the motions, as regulator, of reviewing the plan. As part of that review, it will accept interventions from various groups, including OSEA, which applied to the regulator for “intervenor status” at the hearings, which means it wanted to receive government funding for its participation in the review. Why would OSEA get government funding to lobby on behalf of its interests?

OSEA claims to speak for Ontario ratepayers. This didn’t sit well with me since I am a ratepayer who is not a member of OSEA. As an association, the OSEA website claims 1,500 members. I contacted OSEA’s executive director, Kristopher Stevens, to ask him if he would advise OEB that OSEA does not represent this particular ratepayer. He refused and instead emailed me suggesting I was against all that OSEA stood for. “If you read the line quoted in [our] submission it refers to the consumer’s [sic] interests that demanded the GEA [Green Energy Act]. As you have indicated you are not part of this group. We do not claim to speak for you and others who do not endorse the vision of a sustainable energy economy.” Mr. Stevens added that, “It is OK if you don’t like OSEA, its constituency or the valuable work we do with local people to help them make a better Ontario … the individual consumers, faith-based groups, First Nations communities, farmers, coops, educational institutions, local entrepreneurs and other Ontarian’s [sic] seeking a better way forward for the province.”

I submitted a request to the OEB for the right to act as an intervenor so as to formally dispute OSEA’s right to claim “cost eligibility.” My grounds were: OSEA already gets massive funding from numerous government entities, it is effectively a lobbyist although not registered as a lobbyist, it didn’t represent ratepayers and it brought no expertise on the matter. The OEB turned me down and left OSEA’s status as is. The OEB’s ruling even deigned to suggest it was benevolent in allowing me to even present my position as I was a mere outsider unfamiliar with the Board’s rules.

So if I can’t represent myself as a ratepayer, what is OSEA claiming as my representative? What does OSEA stand for? Who are the principals? How much influence do they have and where do they get their money?

According to Mr. Stevens, OSEA stands for “a sustainable energy economy where every Ontarian is a conserver and generator of clean, green, sustainable energy contributing to the province’s economic, environmental and social development.” He didn’t mention that its biggest source of funding appears to be the Ontario government.

Mr. Stevens, OSEA’s executive director, provided a bit of his personal history and career path in a 2008 interview with Workopolis, the online job search outfit. “I was looking around and said there is a ton of money and opportunity here and it is the right thing to do anyways.” So he went on to do his masters degree in environment studies at York University, he told Workopolis. “Within six months I was working at the Ontario Power Authority on their communication team. A year after that I am at OSEA as their communications director and last (month) I was promoted to executive director.”

In this career path, Mr. Stevens followed in the footsteps of Brent Kopperson, another York University graduate and veteran of the power policy network that appears to have an iron grip on the energy policies of Premier Dalton McGuinty’s government. Mr. Kopperson is a founding director of OSEA. Among other things, Mr. Kopperson is a co-founder of the Green Energy Act Alliance and a former director of the World Wind Association. He is, in other words, a wind-energy enthusiast who has played an active role in promoting wind power.

OSEA claims responsibility for the creation of the basic Ontario green energy subsidy program and the Green Energy Act by working through the Green Energy Act Alliance (GEAA). Along with OSEA, the driving forces behind GEAA were a group of people who can be found today running not-for-profit or charitable organizations that accept the generosity of the Ontario taxpayers and ratepayers through grants and sponsorships from numerous ministries, Crown corporations, provincial and municipal funds, local electricity companies and each other.
OSEA has received over $1.5-million from the Ontario Trillium Foundation (which distributes Ontario lottery winnings), approximately $200,000 from the Toronto Atmospheric Fund (a City of Toronto fund) and money from the OPA, Ministry of Energy, Natural Resources, Environment, Aboriginal Affairs, Hydro One and many local hydro distributors. OSEA’s website also claims direct funding support from the Community Power Fund or CPF (which OSEA’s website claims it created).

In other words, taxpayers are funding OSEA and providing some of the “ton of money” Mr. Stevens prophetically saw in the green energy industry. I have filed freedom-of-information requests with four government ministries and three Crown corps — although I suspect it will be months before information surfaces, if any. It is clear, though, that taxpayers are involuntarily funding OSEA to lobby the government to take actions that will cost taxpayers even more money.

No financial information on OSEA is available. I presumed OSEA would claim penury circumstances when it filed its “cost eligibility” request to the OEB and would be required to provide financial information. The response from the OEB indicated that “no documents were filed by OSEA in support of its request for cost eligibility.” Further research on the OEB’s website shows OSEA has been claiming “cost eligibility” for some time. For example, it received funds to intervene in the OPA’s Integrated Power System Plan (IPSP) filed in 2007 (as directed by former Ontario energy minister Dwight Duncan). For the IPSP review, OSEA and the Pembina Institute, a national green think tank, jointly filed claims for “cost eligibility” of approximately $168,000.

OSEA held its 1st Annual Community Power Conference last year. Sponsors included the Ontario Power Authority (through which the Energy Minister controls the Ontario electricity system), Ontario Aboriginal Affairs, Hydro One, Ontario Natural Resources, Toronto Hydro, Tourism Toronto and even Orangeville Hydro. The Ontario Trillium Foundation supplied OSEA with $127,300 for the conference. Private-sector sponsors are hard to find and seem limited to those profiting from this sector: law firms, equipment importers, unions, etc. The first conference attracted 450 delegates over two days with the principal guest speaker being George Smitherman, then the energy minister and now a front-runner in the race for Mayor of Toronto.
The Honorary Chair of that first conference was David Suzuki — his foundation has also obtained grants from the Trillium lottery cash machine. Mr. Smitherman is listed again for the second conference coming up this November in Toronto, even though he is no longer involved in electricity issues. Is OSEA being used as a platform for Mr. Smitherman’s move to city politics?
OSEA certainly loves George Smitherman. Mr. Stevens presented Mr. Smitherman with the first-ever OSEA Community Leader Award at the 2009 conference. When the World Wind Energy Conference was held in Kingston, Ont., in 2008, the Ontario Environment Minister, John Gerretsen, contributed $100,000 of Ontario tax dollars to it. Mr. Smitherman was one of the keynote speakers at that conference. No mention was made of the fact that Mr. Kopperson, a founding director of OSEA, was a director of the World Wind Energy Association.

Consistent with the above cosy relationship, Mr. Smitherman turned up as the winner of the World Wind Energy Award 2009 on Jeju Island, Korea. For this, Mr. Smitherman was heartily congratulated by OSEA. As if to reinforce the connections, Mr. Smitherman, when he was energy minister, honoured Mr. Kopperson “in recognition of [his] participation in the creation of the Green Energy Act.”

So that’s how Ontario electricity policymaking works. It’s a small world. It should have been no surprise, then, to see OSEA succeed in its effort to lobby the current Energy Minister, Brad Duguid, to reverse his solar power price policy six weeks after he announced it.

My question, as an innocent outsider and Ontario electricity ratepayer, is this: For how long will the province’s taxpayers/ratepayers allow this relatively tiny group of vested interests to hold such sway over government policy?

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

Read more: http://opinion.financialpost.com/2010/08/17/ontarios-power-trip-power-without-the-people/#ixzz0wy5Ab6oV

Hydro bills need fix, feds say


The system for reading homeowners’ smart meters, which measure time-of-use electricity consumption, is inaccurately charging at least 150,000 Ontarians for hydro power, the Star has learned.

Internal documents show the meter-reading computer system and the meters themselves do not meet federal measurement standards and must be repaired before Jan. 1, 2012.

“The environment is right for a class-action lawsuit,” one worried industry source said Tuesday.

“This is another cloud in the perfect storm that’s brewing (in the electricity sector) and, in all this nickel-and-diming, the consumer is taking the brunt.”

Ottawa has warned the province’s Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO) and the Ministry of Energy and Infrastructure (MEI) that ratepayers might be treated unfairly because of the problem.

“Measurement Canada wishes to advise the IESO and the Ontario MEI that contractors (utilities) who issue billing invoices which establish supplied electricity quantities on the basis of interval data and not on the basis of meter registration (i.e. start and finish meter reads) will be considered in contravention of the requirements of the Electricity and Gas Inspection Act,” wrote Gilles Vinet, a vice-president of the federal measurement agency.

A spokesman for the IESO – which oversees Ontario’s electricity system – downplayed the significance of the problem, which affects at least 150,000 customers at five local utilities.That’s a fraction of the 4.5 million electricity consumers in the province.

“It’s not like anyone’s being overbilled vastly or underbilled vastly…it’s really around a few cents a month, up or down,” said Terry Young, vice-president of corporate relations for the IESO.
The amounts could be as little as three to five cents, he added.

“It has to do with the way meters were read previously and the way they’re read now.”
The utilities are: Newmarket Hydro; Horizon in Hamilton; Veridian, which serves Pickering, Ajax, Uxbridge, Bowmanville, Newcastle and Port Perry, Chatham-Kent Hydro and Hydro One. Toronto Hydro customers are not affected.

If the matter were urgent, the deadline for a fix would be sooner than 2012, Young added, noting that in previous meter reading systems, electricity consumption would be estimated monthly between hands-on readings once or twice a year and billings adjusted accordingly.

But NDP Leader Andrea Horwath said the problem makes it difficult for consumers – already facing the new 13 per cent harmonized sales tax on electricity – to have faith their bills are accurate.

“What are people supposed to say when they get their bill? That we trust them?” said Horwath. “You can’t trust this government to bring anything in over the finish line.”

In his Nov. 16, 2009 letter to the IESO, Measurement Canada’s Vinet noted it is “a contractor’s obligation to utilize approved and verified metering functions for this purpose.”

Last Jan. 6, the electricity system’s vice-president and chief information officer conceded there are technical problems.

“We acknowledge that Measurement Canada has expressed concern in respect to time-of-use (TOU) customers not having the register reading displayed on their invoice,” Bill Limbrick said in a letter responding to Vinet’s missive.

“We understand your position that there is a need for a customer to reconcile billed electricity quantities with cumulative register readings,” he continued.

“We have already contacted our software vendor to explore how the MDM/R (meter data management/repository system) might support achievement of the above objectives.”
Limbrick’s letter goes on to say while the IESO is “hopeful” the changes could be done by late this year and in place in 2011, “it is difficult to estimate the overall timeframe for full implementation.”

Another industry insider said the meter data management/repository system has “so many data points and is so complicated” that even if it were 99 per cent accurate, many customers would still be paying erroneous charges.

Energy and Infrastructure Minister Brad Duguid said he had not heard there are problems with accuracy concerning the meter data management repository or that Ottawa had contacted his ministry.

“No, I’m not aware of that concern,” Duguid said in Windsor, where he was attending the Association of Municipalities of Ontario meeting.

Duguid said this is a “period of transition” in the energy sector.

“We’ve had to invest heavily in building energy supply to ensure families and businesses have enough supply to meet their needs,” he said.

The smart meter problem comes on the heels of revelations in the Star on Tuesday that homeowners could face up to an additional $48 in annual hydro costs due to a concession on electricity rates for 200 major industrial users.

Duguid disputed industry sources who calculated that homeowners could see a yearly rate increase of anywhere from $18 to $48 due to the shift in what’s known as the “global adjustment mechanism” on monthly hydro bills.

The minister insisted “any increases to consumers will be minimal, if at all,” but did not give specific figures.

Progressive Conservative Leader Tim Hudak, meanwhile, said the Liberals are just slipping in another rate increase.

“Ontario families are already paying hundreds of dollars more just to keep the lights on. They cannot afford another expense on their hydro bills,” said Hudak, who was also in Windsor.

The Canadian Federation of Independent Business, representing smaller firms, was furious that its members won’t be able to take advantage of time-of-use rates to keep their energy costs down.

“Small businesses just got awarded a bigger share of the energy pie, right in the face,” said spokesperson Satinder Chera.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Ontario’s Power Trip: Solar see saw

Ontario’s Power Trip: Solar see saw
August 16, 2010 – 1:40 pm
By Parker Gallant

In a major energy policy reversal that will cost Ontario electricity consumers as much as a $1-billion, the province’s Energy Minister Brad Duguid last Friday took back a plan to cut solar power subsidies. The subsidies, based on paying 80-cents for a kiloWatt hour of solar power, were to be cut to 58 cents on all projects approved after July 2. But on Friday, under pressure from green energy lobbyists, Mr. Duguid reversed that decision. The new price for solar would be 64 cents–but only on projects submitted after Aug. 13. All proposals that have been submitted before that date–whether approved or not–would receive the 80 cent price.

This is another electricity policy bungle on the part of the Liberals, part of a series that date back more than a year. Here’s part of the history.

On September 24, 2009, George Smitherman, then Minister of Energy, issued a directive to Colin Anderson, CEO of the Ontario Power Authority, to develop a feed-in-tariff (FIT) program for green energy, including wind and solar. OPA was to include small solar projects labeled microFIT. The OPA complied with the directive and Oct. 1, 2009, accepted applications. Pricing of solar, ground and roof mounted, was set at .80 cents kWh and .40 cents per kWh respectively. A week later Mr. Smitherman issued another directive that obligated the OPA to ensure anyone contracted under the FIT program be hooked up to the grid.

By December 16th the OPA announced they had received 1,200 applications and Mr. Smitherman had announced he would run for mayor of Toronto. These 1,200 applications for roof and ground mounted solar were estimated to have a capacity to produce 8.6 MWs, or enough to power 1,000 homes.

What has happened since then demonstrates the inability of the OPA to add value to the electricity sector in this Province and the indecisive nature of the governing Liberals. The government’s sudden about face on solar policy also demonstrates the ability of outside policy advocates to get their way.

When Mr. Duguid announced the cut in the solar subsidy to 58 cents on July 2, the number of solar microFIT applications had ballooned to 16,000. The government said it would cut the price paid for ground mounted solar from .80 per kWh to .58.8 cents. Mr. Duguid was quoted as saying this would save the ratepayers $1-billion over the life of the contracts. The money would be saved because the Liberals would only honour contracts that had already been processed (either executed or offered) by the OPA.

The announcement became a two edged sword. Ratepayers thought Premier Dalton McGuinty and Mr. Duguid had finally come to their senses on the solar subsidies, while solar advocates said the Liberals had reneged on promises to pay the 80-cent rate.

But the $1-billion savings disappeared quickly on August 13th, last Friday, when the OPA issued a press release reversing the plan. In a complete about-face, the OPA said it would honour all contracts that had been submitted at the old 80-cent rates. Magically, at the same time the number of applications had grown to 19,000 or by 3,000 in that six-week period since the first announcement on July 2. Where did 3,000 applications suddenly come from? It looks like another $2/300-million has been added to the $1-billion previously saved that will now not be saved.

So, why the about face? One reason is the role of the Ontario Sustainable Energy Association, the self-proclaimed “advocacy” not-for-profit that aims to save us from smog, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and create sustainable communities. On the OSEA website, dated August 3, 2010, is a letter addressed to Mr. Duguid and copied to Mr. McGuinty and 8 other Liberal ministers. Neither of the opposition parties were copied which I would have thought would have been right and proper for an “advocacy” group. For that reason this letter comes across as a lobbying effort.
The letter berates the OPA and the minister for changing the rules, appeals to the minister to reverse his position, and claims (unsubstantiated) that “half a billion dollars in investment in rural Ontario will be lost if the price is changed so significantly.” The letter forecasts bankruptcy for many. It blames unnamed people “behind closed doors” that include companies “gaming” the program. It goes on to say that this is unfair to people “who have rearranged their financial affairs, cashed in retirement savings and taken out loans based on the higher price.”

OSEA–under the slogan “Power to the People” –urged the government to set up “a Council to review prices for renewable energy, similar to the Egg Marketing Board or the Wheat Board.” It proposed that “OSEA is ideally positioned to serve as a bridge between the commercial and government sectors and would be pleased to assist in drafting the structure of such a review council.” The government appears to have followed the OSEA advice here by setting up a panel on green energy pricing.

The OSEA letter further suggests that the OPA “make public all of the economic models and data used to determine the prices for the FIT programs, etc.” I wonder if OSEA feels the same about releasing OSEA’s financial statements for public scrutiny so that we can determine how much money is flowing to them from the taxpayers of this province.

Parker Gallant is a retired Canadian banker who began looking at his Ontario electricity bill and didn’t like what he was seeing.

Click here to read all of Parker Gallant’s series Ontario’s Power Trip.

Read more: http://opinion.financialpost.com/2010/08/16/ontarios-power-trip-solar-see-saw/#ixzz0wpcS5zu3

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

My Numbers are in

Finally got a chance to go through my own numbers. It's, well, interesting, and maybe not what we had hoped for.

This is my consumption since Aug 2005, smart meter went in Jan 08.

Plotting the monthly deviation using 2007 as the baseline year:

Quite the jump up in the past winter. Jan 2010 was 3 times Jan 2007, 2.5 times Jan 2006 and Jan 2009. Two things happened in the winter of 2009 and 2010. My daughter and her 2 kids moved in with us temporarily in Aug 2009, you can see the effect that had increasing our consumption some 80% starting in September. The ground source heat pump was installed March 2009, and was heating the house through March and April 2009. Almost no perceivable increase in consumption those two months.

The summer of 2009 was not a hot as this year, so we only had the A/C from the GSHP on a couple days (This summer it's been on constant since July).

So the dramatic jump in winter consumption, which I attributed to the meter not reading correctly, may have been the combination of my daughter in the house and the GSHP heating the house. The only way I will know for sure is this coming winter. She has moved out as of July this year.

The average of the monthly daily readings are also interesting.

The dark blue lines are the past 3 months that I have been taking daily readings. Notice the significant drop in consumption since June (the first blue bar). August, the last blue bar, is down 45% from June, and the A/C has been on every day! The reason for the drop? My daughter had moved out beginning of July.

3 more people in the house, basically doubling the number, has made a dramatic difference in consumption. More lights on, and a biggy, more clothes being cleaned and dried.

So I expect that this winter should have around a 45% drop in consumption, as projected in the gray bars through to March 2011. If that projection is the case, then my winters will only be slightly higher than the base year with the GSHP working.

So two things from this:

  1. The high readings I had in the winter of 2009-2010 were not from the smart meter reading incorrectly. There is no evidence to support the meter reading wrong in my case.
  2. GSHP do not appreciably increase the consumption, and compared to NG, which I converted from, is arguably the best way to heat the house. I know it is the definitely the best way to cool the house because my neighbour, which I will post next, has consumption THREE TIMES mine at the moment with his pool and A/C running.

So what does this mean for the pending action against H1? For me I cannot use my place as evidence. But that does NOT mean the game is over, nor that I will not be part of any action. I still plan to move forward.

I'm moving on two fronts for that. The first is to continue to gather evidence of faulty meters and abuse to consumers by H1 (still getting the odd email and phone call from people). But I need that evidence to proceed. So far only 3 people have provided me their numbers. Everyone who wants to continue with this and think they have been ripped off MUST get their consumption to me for evaluation.

The second front I will explain later. It may be much later, a year or more, after the Provincial election in Oct 2011. I can tell you this, the PC's are planning to make energy the #1 issue in the election. The plan is to completely revamp how the system works. (Don't buy any solar panels expecting 20 year contracts.)

This fight is not over by a long shot!