Thursday, September 30, 2010

Smart meters 'may not cut energy use'

Installing smart meters may not result in households saving energy, a study has suggested.
Smart meters had been considered as one component in an infrastructure to help use energy more effectively, and cut bills and emissions.

Research by a University of Oxford scientist found that the devices alone were unlikely to lead to an overall reduction in the demand for energy.

The findings appear in the journal Building Research and Information.

"A lot of us are using gas and electricity without realising we are using it," explained author Sarah Darby from the university's Environmental Change Institute (ECI).

"If you had a wood fire and went away for the weekend, then the fire would go out. However, if you leave the central heating or electrical appliances on when you go away, you may be none the wiser."

It is why, Dr Darby added, the "feedback effect" (which tells people how much energy was used over a period of time, or how much energy a particular activity/appliance consumed) in energy demand reduction was so important.

"Helping people who wanted to save energy use the information they could get from their metering and bills was an important part of that feedback," she told BBC News.

"Using the old-style meter means that you have got to be fairly diligent to do that - even if you do check it every day or month, it does not give you a breakdown of how you are using the gas or electricity."

Definition dilemma

However, she observed, there was still a lot of confusion of what a smart meter was, despite the devices being hailed as key in the effort to curb energy use in the UK.

Old-style metering made it very difficult to understand where people were wasting energy
"It is possible to have a smart meter that does not have a display on it at all, in fact most smart meters don't," she explained.

Citing Italy and Sweden as exampled, she said: "They are not being rolled out with the aim of giving customers better feedback, except that the households will get an accurate bill whereas in the past they might have got an estimate.

"But in [the UK], it is part of government policy that smart meters will be rolled out with real-time electricity displays."

The UK government policy involves installing smart meters in more than 27 million homes and two million smaller non-domestic sites over the next decade.

In a consultation document published in August, the Department of Energy and Climate Change (Decc) and energy regulator Ofgem said better information would allow household to cut their energy use.

Dr Darby agreed that smart meters were an important development: "What I am saying in this paper is smart meters can be used to help use their energy consumption because they will get [accurate] bills, and because it is possible for them to have a breakdown about their energy use."

However, she added, "There is no inevitability about this. Smart metering can be introduced in such a way where people do not get the feedback effect, in which case you lose that benefit of the technology."

But she quickly added that the meters had the potential to offer more that just "feedback to customers".

"Essentially, a smart meter is a meter with communications technology. You can use that technology in different ways: it could turn your water heating on and off, according to the needs of the utilities, to fit in with load balancing.

"For example, at a time of peak demand, the utility company could switch off your water heater and they would offer you a special tariff to be allowed to do that. Instead it would switch on your immersion heater at a time of low demand."

Dr Darby said that this could be vital progress towards developing a more effective electricity distribution system in the future.

"It may not reduce the overall use of electricity, but it would allow the suppliers to manage loads on the system more effectively - especially as the balance between supply and demand gets tighter and, particularly, as we get more renewables on the system; if the wind is blowing then you want to make the most of it."

Savings questioned

In the effort to curb climate change, the consultation document says that initial government estimates suggest that smart meters could save around 34m tonnes of CO2 emissions over a 20-year period as people become more aware of the energy they were using.

Currently, according to government figures, households account for 26% of the UK's energy use and CO2 emissions. It has also calculated that in excess of £900m of electricity is wasted each year as a result of appliances being left on standby.

However, another paper in the Building Research and Information journal warned that the benefits of smart meters could become less effective over longer periods of time.

Dutch researchers questioned the findings of studies around the world because they were often only conducted for a relatively short-period of time - four months or less.

When the team from Delft University of Technology carried out a study that lasted for 15 months, they found that early energy savings were lost unless the features provided by smart meters became incorporated into consumer habits and routines.

The Decc/Ofgem consultation lasts until the end of September, and the government is planning to give the green light to the roll-out programme in mid-2012.

Ont. Liberals accused of hiding electricity report

Last Updated: Wednesday, September 29, 2010 4:35 PM ET

The Canadian Press

The Opposition is accusing the Ontario Liberals of hiding a report on future electricity costs. (CBC)

The Opposition is demanding that Premier Dalton McGuinty come clean and release a report on future electricity costs amid fears that soaring hydro bills are heading even higher.

The Ontario Energy Board acknowledged in a Sept. 17 letter that it conducted a "preliminary analysis and forecast" of electricity costs, but doesn't plan on making it public.

The Conservatives, who uncovered the letter, asked McGuinty 10 times in the legislature whether he would make the report public.

But the premier refused to acknowledge the existence of the OEB report and instead kept bringing up the former Tory government's record on hydro rates.

"The fact of the matter is that they quietly presided over the gradual decay of the electricity system in the province of Ontario," McGuinty told the legislature.

"They refused to make essential investments in new generation and in new transmission. They refused to work with Ontarians so that we might together conserve electricity and reduce demand."

But the premier's refusal to make the report public suggests he's concealing evidence that hydro rates are going up, said Opposition Leader Tim Hudak.

"There's got to be a reason why Dalton McGuinty is burying that report," he said outside the chamber.

"Clearly, rates have already gone through the roof and he's going to put them up higher. I just wish the premier would be honest, would tell families exactly how much hydro bills are going to go up, and make that report public."

Duguid unaware of report

Energy Minister Brad Duguid said he wasn't even aware of the OEB report.

"There are a series of reports we receive, whether it be from the Ontario Energy Board or others in the sector, that make projections as to where costs are going," he said.

Consumers should have "greater clarity" about future hydro costs once the government releases its 20-year energy plan at the end of December, Duguid said.

Given the heat the Liberals are taking over rising electric bills, NDP energy critic Peter Tabuns said he doubts they'll release anything that predicts higher rates before next year's election.

"They want to make sure that between now and voting day they can say whatever they want to whatever crowd they're in front of," he said.

Report 'preliminary and incomplete'

A spokesman for the OEB, which regulates Ontario's electricity and natural gas sectors, confirmed it isn't planning to release the report.

"It was work undertaken by staff as part of its ongoing industry monitoring, and wasn't prepared for any proceeding, consultation or other public forum," said spokesman Alan Findlay.

"Given its preliminary and incomplete nature, the analysis is not in a thorough or reliable form that would responsibly add to the public's or the sector's insights into costs."

The Liberals have been dogged for weeks over rising home electricity bills, with opposition parties blaming McGuinty's green energy policies, as well as July's addition of the HST, for soaring costs.

They say they're swamped with complaints from homeowners, who've already been hit with an extra eight per cent for electricity because of the HST, plus the costs of installing smart meters and moving to expensive time-of-use pricing.

Environmentalists are also warning that consumers may be hit with another rate hike this spring.

Ontario Power Generation has already asked to raise its rates next March to start paying for the re-build of the Darlington nuclear units, said Jack Gibbons of the Ontario Clean Air Alliance.
OPG is seeking a 6.2 per cent rate increase for "everything they want to do, including the re-build," Gibbons said. For the average residential customer, it would raise their bills by 1.7 per cent, he added.

"It's unacceptable to consumers to raise your rates for the highest cost and the highest risk option to meet our electricity needs," Gibbons said.

"Consumers want the government of Ontario to give them new supply that's clean and green, but at a reasonable cost. And nuclear power doesn't meet that test. The cost is way too high."
The province announced in 2006 that it wanted to build two new nuclear reactors to supply electricity, but has yet to sign a contract to proceed with the multi-billion project.

Read more:

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Energy board forced changes despite problems

By ANTONELLA ARTUSO, Queen's Park Bureau Chief
Last Updated: September 28, 2010 9:52am

The Ontario Energy Board forged ahead with smart meters and time-of-use pricing even though electricity distributors said it was a stupid idea to rush.

The OEB put the concerns to the Independent Electricity System Operator, and then ordered the distributors to proceed with the mandatory plan.

The order is included in an Aug. 4 memo from the OEB to electricity distributors, released by the Ontario Conservative Party Tuesday morning.

"Representatives of a number of distributors expressed the view that the setting of mandatory TOU dates is premature and inappropriate at this time because of issues associated with the performance and stability of the SME's meter data management and repository," the memo says. "After reviewing the IESO's response, the board is satisfied that deferral of the mandatory TOU dates as set out in the June Proposed Determination is not warranted by reason of MDM/R readiness or performance issues."

TOU pricing, where ratepayers are charged different rates depending on the time that they use the power, has resulted in price hikes to the majority of homeowners, although some people have seen a drop in their bills, according to Toronto Hydro.

It was previously revealed that Ontario Hydro was one of the distributors that raised a red flag about the program.

Premier Dalton McGuinty announced Tuesday that he was expanding the seniors tax credit to 50,000 more Ontarians to help with rising energy costs and property taxes.

The 'Peabody Plan'

Peabody Energy Chairman and CEO Greg Boyce Outlines 'Peabody Plan' to Eliminate Energy

Poverty and Inequality

MONTREAL, Sept 14, 2010 /PRNewswire via COMTEX/ --

Peabody Energy Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Gregory H. Boyce today outlined a multi-step plan to eliminate energy poverty and inequality by unlocking the power of coal to advance energy security, generate economic stimulus and create environmental solutions. The 'Peabody Plan' was unveiled during a keynote address before the 21st World Energy Congress in Montreal. The Congress is a gathering of global energy leaders from nearly 100 member nations convened every three years.

Boyce called for greater use of coal to expand electrification, propel job creation and global economies, and deploy green coal technologies to achieve environmental goals.
"The greatest crisis we confront in the 21st Century is not a future environmental crisis predicted by computer models, but a human crisis today that is fully within our power to solve. For too long, too many have been focused on the wrong end game," said Boyce.

"For everyone who has voiced a 2050 greenhouse gas goal, we need 10 people and policy bodies working toward the goal of broad energy access. Only once we have a growing, vibrant, global economy providing energy access and an improved human condition for billions of the energy impoverished can we accelerate progress on environmental issues such as a reduction in greenhouse gases."

Boyce noted that there are 3.6 billion people in the world - more than half the global population - who lack adequate energy access. And another 2 billion will require power as the world population grows in the next two decades. This means the world is on a path to have 5 to 6 billion people without adequate access to electricity in as little as 20 years.

"Study after study - and pure common sense - tell us that access to electricity helps people live longer and better. Yet each year, we lose more than 1.5 million people to the effects of energy poverty," said Boyce. "We can no longer turn our heads from these brutal statistics. We must put people first. This is the first value."

Boyce called for recalibrating priorities to:

  • Eliminate energy poverty as priority one;
  • Create energy access for all by 2050;
  • Advance all energy forms for long-term access, recognizing coal is the only fuel that can meet the world's rising energy demand; and
  • Deploy advanced coal technologies on a path to near-zero emissions.

The world has approximately 1,000 gigawatts of traditional coal-fueled plants. Boyce observed that replacing these with supercritical plants would drive major global reindustrialization and enormous reductions in carbon dioxide without using carbon capture and storage.

Replacing older plants would create $4.3 trillion in economic benefits and 21 million new construction jobs during a four-year construction cycle, according to a study by Management Information Services in Washington, D.C. Avoided carbon dioxide emissions would equate to removing more than the entire passenger car fleet in the United States. The Peabody Plan calls for:

  1. Working to eliminate energy poverty and propelling global economies by ensuring that at least half of new generation is fueled by coal, the dominant global baseload source of power;
  2. Replacing the 1,000 gigawatts of traditional coal plants with supercritical and ultrasupercritical plants, which are more efficient and carbon capture ready;
  3. Developing at least 100 major projects around the world that capture, store or use carbon dioxide from coal-based plants within 20 years;
  4. Deploying significant coal-to-gas, coal-to-chemicals and coal-to-liquids projects around the world over the next 10 years. Such plants are in heavy development in China, and doing so elsewhere would reduce risky reliance on scarce oil and volatile natural gas; and
  5. Commercializing and deploying next generation clean coal technologies to achieve continued environmental improvement and ultimately near-zero emissions.

Coal is the world's fastest-growing fuel, and coal use expanded nearly 50 percent this past decade. "Every tenfold increase in electricity is linked to a stunning 10-year increase in lifespans," said Boyce. "Coal is the only sustainable fuel with the scale to meet the primary energy needs of the world's rising populations and economies."

Peabody's plan would go far to eliminate energy poverty and energy inequality, and ensure full global access to electricity by 2050. Social and economic progress in the developing world is also the task of leaders in developed nations, Boyce said. "Poverty and economic stagnation sting equally, regardless of the color of one's flag."

The World Energy Council was established in 1923 and is a multi-energy organization with member committees in nearly 100 nations. The 2010 Congress has brought together more than 5,000 world leaders in the field of energy from industry, governments, academia, international organizations and industry associations.

Peabody Energy (NYSE: BTU) is the world's largest private-sector coal company and a global leader in clean coal solutions. With 2009 sales of 244 million tons and $6 billion in revenues, Peabody fuels 10 percent of U.S. power and 2 percent of worldwide electricity.

Editor's Note: The full presentation may be downloaded at

Ontario to give seniors a break on hydro bills

The Ontario government, under siege over rapidly rising electricity prices, plans to roll out new tax-relief measures for senior citizens to give them a break on their hydro bills, sources say.

Premier Dalton McGuinty will make the announcement on Tuesday at Kensington Gardens, a long-term care home in Toronto, according to government sources. Finance Minister Dwight Duncan will unveil legislation for the tax credit later in the day, the sources said.

The government is grappling with the soaring cost of hydro amid worries that it will become an issue in next year’s provincial election. Both opposition parties are using the daily Question Period to attack the governing Liberals’ stewardship of the province’s electricity system.
“We are providing enhanced relief for Ontario seniors for their property and energy costs,” a government source said Monday evening.

Sources in the energy sector said the government has looked at various options. They said it is much easier for the government to help seniors with their hydro bills by introducing legislation than by changing the rate structure for consumers.

The government plans to amend existing legislation known as the Ontario Energy and Property Tax Credit. The legislation was introduced in this year’s budget and currently provides energy and property tax relief to low- and middle-income residents of the province.

Energy Minister Brad Duguid declined to comment on Monday on whether the government has any plans in store for seniors. But he acknowledged that electricity costs are taking a toll on many families in the province.

“We understand that Ontario families have had to cope with a lot in recent months,” he told reporters. “Energy rates are going up.”

Opposition parties say the Green Energy Act, along with the harmonized sales tax that took effect on July 1, adding 8 per cent to hydro bills, and higher prices for electricity during peak periods have all combined to drive up costs for consumers.

The McGuinty government is spending billions of dollars replacing pollution-spewing coal-fired electricity plants with cleaner sources of power, including wind and solar technology, under the Green Energy Act. Mr. Duguid reiterated that the Liberals inherited a “weak, unreliable, dirty” system from the Progressive Conservatives when they came to power in 2003.

The government is also looking at giving consumers a break on hydro prices under a program that critics say is not living up to its promise to save electricity users money and promote energy conservation.

Ontario is the first province in Canada to introduce time-of-use pricing designed to encourage consumers to run appliances during periods of lower demand. But under the current system, Mr. McGuinty has acknowledged that rates might not be low enough in off-peak hours to allow consumers to reap savings.

During the Progressive Conservative caucus’s opposition day on Tuesday – a designated day on which the Tories are allowed to debate a subject of their choice – they plan to criticize the time-of-use program.

New Democratic Leader Andrea Horwath attacked the government on a different front on Monday. She called on Mr. McGuinty during Question Period to scrap the provincial portion of the HST on consumers’ hydro bills, a move that she said would cost the government about $500-million a year in lost revenue.

“The government has a very easy opportunity here to provide some relief and take the HST off hydro bills,” she told reporters. “The HST is just more salt in the wound for people whose hydro bills are going up.”

Progressive Conservative Leader Tim Hudak praised the New Democrats for joining his party’s push for lower taxes.

“Families need a break,” Mr. Hudak told reporters. “They’re getting nickel and dimed every time they turn around by Dalton McGuinty.”


[RW: Dalton, just fix the pricing system and give EVERYONE a break from these oppressive electical prices! No instead he adds another layer of government, which he will have to hire people to administer, to complicate things even more. More government control over people, that's what the Liberals want. This is how they implement that control.]

Monday, September 27, 2010


Every year the IESO publishes a report called "Ontario Reliability Outlook" which summarizes what is going on in the system. This is the 2009 report

It's worth the read. But something caught my eye. Page 15, the caption beside the plugged in car:

Owners of plug-in hybrid electric vehicles can take advantage of lower
electricity prices by charging at night to use in the morning, or selling the
electricity back into the grid to take advantage of higher daytime peak prices.

Whoa, just a minute, stop right there, hold the horses. Does anyone see a problem with this? Someone can get a huge bank of batteries, charge them at night at the low rate, and then sell it back to the grid during the peak price time. And the IESO doesn't see a problem with that?!

Two things. First, the person doing this makes money for doing nothing, which you pay for. Second, those who do this are wasting energy. The power they store won't be the power they return. In fact, the loss could be so high that selling back at the peak price won't cover the costs of storage at the low price. Either way, the fact remains, it's a net power consumer!!

Is stupidity the criteria for getting a job at the IESO?


I've gone far enough to present this to the public:

More coming, but enough to get people started on how pathetic wind is, and you are paying for it.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

A Liberal power surge

Many Ontarians can’t keep paying these ever-escalating fuel bills
Last Updated: September 25, 2010 10:42pm

The two biggest issues in next year’s election will be the HST and the price of electricity.

As consumers open their hydro bills this month, they’re getting sticker shock from the extra 8% the HST has added.

Last week, both Opposition parties were hammering at the Liberals for other sneaky costs that have been quietly added to their already ballooning bills.

Andrea Horwath and the New Democrats were especially effective.

First, they raised the issue of the $60 million that was paid to Bruce Power in 2009 for energy they didn’t produce.

This added an extra $15 per household per year.

On Thursday, they revealed utility companies had been allowed to boost their expected profit margins to 9.85% from 8.01% — although utilities actually came in at around 3.32% last year — by the Ontario Energy Board. The hike is estimated to cost consumers $240 million annually.
While the government claims rate hikes will pay for new transmission, that just isn’t the case.
Horwath pointed out this hike will simply go from our wallets to corporate profits.

Then there’ve been the Smart Meters. They were supposed to be a tool to help families manage their bills. Instead, they’ve become a weapon — a blunt instrument to batter the wallets of consumers at a time when we can least afford it.

The root of the problem is the government’s “obsession to prematurely retire Ontario’s coal plants,” says Energy Probe’s executive director Lawrence Solomon.

Where decades ago, coal plants were dirty and EP opposed them, they’ve become much cleaner and most harmful emissions have been removed.

“Coal has become a very clean and inexpensive form of power, but this is what the government has decided to target out of a misplaced fear of carbon dioxide,” Solomon said.

Germany, the U.S., the U.K., India and China are building coal plants, he said.

Solomon said the government is wasting vast amounts of money on transmission to bring remote wind and solar energy to urban markets and should end subsidies to unsustainable forms of generation.

“If the government simply put the power system on a market basis, we would see rates drop,” he said.

Cash-strapped consumers will reach a point where they just can’t pay their bill, Solomon said.
This has happened in the U.K., where energy costs are a leading contributor to poverty.

“If the province keeps going along this way, there will be many people who think of themselves as middle class who all of a sudden realize they can’t keep paying these ever-escalating fuel bills, and there will be subsidy programs put in place to deal with fuel poverty,” he said.

Premier Dalton McGuinty likes to brag about how we got through the long, hot summer without worrying about energy shortages.

The flip side of that coin is the economic downturn and the decimation of the manufacturing sector means demand for electricity has tanked.

If the manufacturing sector ever comes back the demand for electricity will soar.

The only thing growing in the energy sector is the number of bloated bureaucracies. Where once we had just Ontario Hydro, we now have Ontario Power Generation, Hydro One, the Independent Electricity System Operator, the Ontario Power Authority and the Ontario Energy Board.

PC Leader Tim Hudak reported the OPA has gone from 15 to 300 bureaucrats.
“They’ve not produced the long-term energy plan yet, despite five years on the job, but they seem more than happy to be the propaganda arm for your expensive energy experiments,” Hudak told McGuinty in the House Thursday.

We pay through the nose for private companies to get an almost 10% rate hike. We pay six-figure salaries to fatcat bureaucrats. We pay for a flawed plan to close coal plants.
Fatcats get fatter. We get poorer.

Thank your government next October.

Ontario Power Authority Ads

If you haven't noticed, the Ontario Power Authority are running ads at (likely elsewhere) to make you feel good that those high power bills you are paying is helping the environment. Those ads paid for by your high bills.

Expect much more of this from the Liberals in the last year of their hold on power.

The Enron of environmentalism

In this final excerpt from Ethical Oil, a new book debunking the myths and bogus claims of Alberta’s oilsands critics, Sun Media columnist Ezra Levant takes a closer look at the price tag of the “green job” revolution. Read all three excerpts at
By Special to QMI Agency

Last Updated: September 25, 2010 12:00am

In the great public debate about the future of energy, the oilsands aren't just compared against other oil producers; they're compared against potential future energy sources too (even if they're still in their infancy and largely untested on the scale required to displace oil).

This is why when environmentalists promote their vision for a new economy based on renewable fuels, like wind and solar, they put tremendous emphasis on their promise that building more turbines and solar cells will only increase our prosperity, creating millions of "green jobs" in those industries, while improving the environment, with no additional costs to any of us.

"Millions of new jobs are among the many silver-, if not indeed gold-plated, linings on the cloud of climate change," Achim Steiner, head of the UN's environmental program, announced at a world climate-change conference in 2007.

"These jobs are not for just the middle classes - the so-called 'green collar' jobs - but also for workers in construction, sustainable forestry and agriculture, engineering and transportation."
Spain and Germany, where governments have led the rush into subsidizing wind and solar power, he said, have "already created several hundred thousand jobs."

Jim Harris, past leader of Canada's Green Party and a bestselling business author, is warning Canadian politicians that they are missing the boat on a great job-creating opportunity in failing to keep up with European levels of renewable energy subsidies.

"Spain has just committed to creating a million green energy jobs over the next decade," he wrote in an October 2009 article called Green Jobs Will Pay for Themselves.

As luck would have it, Spain is a pretty instructive country for Canadians to look to as a comparison to our own situation, since it has a population that's similar in size (Canada population is 33 million; Spain's is 40 million) and in 2008 had a roughly similar-sized economy (Canada's GDP is $1.3 trillion; Spain's is $1.4 trillion).

And Spain has truly been a leader in throwing all its policy muscle behind the green-economy effort.

Environmental groups that had argued for decades that if we would only try switching from our fossil fuel habit, we would discover how achievable it is to create a flourishing economy without them, finally had in Spain the pilot project they had been asking for.

But, although you wouldn't know it from the cheerleading of environmentalists in Canada, the United States, and the UN, the reality is that back in Spain, the country supposedly leading the way on renewable energy, the truth was that that entire experiment has turned out to be an unmitigated disaster.

In March 2009, economic researchers at Spain's King Juan Carlos University, after hearing so much of this international praise for their country's renewable energy policies, and sensing something quite different going on around them, decided to finally examine the benefits and costs to Spain of this massive "green jobs" creation strategy, which has been underway for more than a decade.

The net effect of Spain's green policy, the authors found, was that it actually "destroys jobs." Lots of them. The report found a "surprisingly low number" of green jobs created in Spain overall - about fifty thousand - and most of them were only short-term work, such as building and installing facilities: Just one out of every ten jobs created was considered "at the more permanent level of actual operation and maintenance of the renewable sources of electricity."
But, whether permanent or short-term, for every single so-called green job created in Spain since the government first embarked on the initiative in 1997, the policy killed 2.2 jobs elsewhere in the economy. For every green megawatt of electrical capacity installed, five jobs were wiped out from the economy, often as a result of higher power prices.

"These costs do not appear to be unique to Spain's approach," the researchers concluded, "but instead are largely inherent in schemes to promote renewable energy sources," whether they're implemented in Japan, Canada, or the United States. In fact, according to the study's analysis, were the United States to adopt the same policies as Spain has - just like President Obama has said he hopes to - it could expect to create 3-5 million jobs, but it will likely eliminate, based on Spain's experience, as many as 11 million other jobs in the process.

But that only represents a portion of the economic damage that has befallen Spain as a direct result of the policy. Because the few "green jobs" that were created didn't just appear out of thin air: They only happened because the government poured billions of taxpayer dollars into the renewable energy sector. Every green job created cost the government $571,138, or about $850,000 (all figures using exchange rates as of late 2009). Every wind-industry job created cost, on average, more than $1 million to create, according to the report - roughly a staggering $1.5 million.

Of course, all that government money has to come from taxpayers, and you don't need an economist to tell you that higher taxes means less prosperity - and fewer jobs - somewhere else in the economy.

Ontario's wind power gusto risks blowback

By LARRY CORNIES, Special to QMI Agency
Last Updated: September 25, 2010 12:00am

On one of the photo websites I regularly visit, an Ontario photographer this week posted a picture of the wind turbines that tower like steel Goliaths along the north side of Hwy. 3 between Blenheim and Wheatley.

The photo, bathed in sepia tones with two turbines in the foreground and three farther back, was intended as an admiring tribute to the potential of alternative energy sources, including wind power.

Within minutes, however, a comment appeared under the photo from a British photographer: "You show the stark ugliness of these largely useless machines very well." That brief exchange pretty much sums up the divide between the champions and detractors of Ontario's turbulent green energy industry.

Some think it points the way forward, positioning the province to stake its claim to an industry still in its wild-west phase. Others see it as regressive and illogical, its projects as ugly as they are intrusive and impractical.

Along the Lake Huron, Lake Erie and Lake Ontario shorelines, the prospect of more and more wind turbines on land and in the water has sharply divided people in ways that transcend NIMBYism.

Some landowners have eagerly signed the long-term leases dangled before them by fledgling energy companies, offering annual payments of $5,000 or more per turbine for the right to erect the giant machine and build the road needed to maintain it. Others landowners have rejected the offers, reasoning that the effects of the towering electric installations on people and the environment are still too unclear -- and the esthetic effect on the landscape too obtrusive -- to sign away the rights for two decades.

Those who do opt for signing contracts can find themselves surrounded by resentful neighbours worried about the health effects of prolonged exposure to low-level turbine noise and electrical interference.

They're backed by experts such as Dr. Robert McMurtry, former dean of medicine at the University of Western Ontario, who worries that not enough epidemiological studies have been done by arm's-length investigators into what look like legitimate health concerns.

Signs proclaiming "No wind turbines in our lake" have dotted the landscape along the shore of Lake Erie's Pigeon Bay, adjacent to Point Pelee National Park, and on Pelee Island for many months -- a campaign directed primarily against SouthPoint Wind, which wants to build turbines in the shallow waters along the ecologically sensitive coastline.

While it's too early for the protesters to claim victory, their spirits were lifted when local MPPs Bruce Crozier and Pat Hoy presented a petition against the project -- and their own government -- at Queen's Park in June. Weeks later, the government imposed new rules that will require offshore projects to be set at least five kilometres from shore, ratcheting up the cost. That may be enough to unplug the SouthPoint project.

Last week at a public meeting in Clinton, protesters took aim at another Liberal MPP, Carol Mitchell, over the province's Green Energy Act and provisions in it that degrade the right of municipalities to control green energy projects -- all for the sake of quickly creating both jobs and electrical power.

Premier Dalton McGuinty, who has pledged more than $15 billion in projects and subsidies to attract green-energy companies to the province, seems not to appreciate the force of the blowback he risks by pushing local interests aside.

Is he right to see the future of Ontario as linked to technological innovation in the energy sector? Absolutely. Should Ontario aim to be a world leader in green power? Yes, please.

But given the uncertain economics of wind power, the failures of the industry in countries such as Britain and Spain, the surging price of energy, the comparatively low output of individual turbines and the plain unreliable nature of the wind, sea and sky compared to traditional sources, the scheme is fraught with danger.

Add soaring electricity prices and miffed rural constituencies to the mix, and you have the potential for real blowback against the Liberals next year, when energy is likely to become an election issue.

For some rural Ontarians, the diktat of central planners in urban capitals over wind power is going over about as well as the federal strategy to stop the emerald ash borer did a few years ago. That resulted in the destruction of hundreds of hectares of woodland in the name of the environment -- with nary a bit to show for it in the end.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Another sneaky hydro hike

By ANTONELLA ARTUSO, Queen's Park Bureau Chief
Last Updated: September 23, 2010 6:06pm

You’re paying $60 more per year so utilities can get richer. (Toronto Sun file)

TORONTO - The Ontario Energy Board thinks you’re not paying enough for hydro so it’s yanking another $60 out of your wallet.

Ontario hydro ratepayers — already hammered by the HST, time-of-use pricing and rate hikes — will pay an added $240 million a year, the Ontario NDP says.

Officials at the provincial crown agency — whose salaries are paid for through hydro bills — decided earlier this year that utilities should be able to boost their rate of return to 9.85% from 8.39%.

The OEB says that the increase shouldn’t be more than $1 per month for most residential customers, tucked into the delivery charge on the bill.

NDP Leader Andrea Horwath called Premier Dalton McGuinty on the carpet in the legislature Thursday, demanding to know why ratepayers should have to cough up even more of their stretched dollars to boost profits for the utilities.

“Ontario families are scrambling to deal with sky-high hydro rates. Does the premier think it’s fair to actually ask consumers to pay even more just to ensure healthy profits for hydro utilities?” she said.

Because utilities are a monopoly, the OEB determines how much profit is required to attract investors, appease shareholders and permit investment in infrastructure and then balances that against the interests of the ratepayers who pick up the tab.

Prof Gordon Roberts, of the York University Schulich School of Business, who made a submission to the OEB on behalf of Pollution Probe, recommended a lower rate.

“It’s generous,” Roberts said. “Clearly, if the answer comes out on the generous side (for utilities), it’s less fair for the ratepayers.”

Energy Minister Brad Duguid said the rate of return allows these companies to reinvest, ensuring the province can keep the lights on.

“Local distribution companies are private companies — they have shareholders,” Duguid said.
"The Ontario Energy Board determines what the appropriate rate of return is for them. That’s always the way it’s been and that’s the way it is now. We don’t influence that.”

Lawrence Solomon, executive director of Energy Probe, agrees that the OEB has an obligation to ensure utilities have enough funds to invest.

“I think the NDP is pointing their guns at the wrong target ... not blame the regulator that’s really doing its best to adjudicate really an impossible situation,” Solomon said.

He expects the Dalton McGuinty government to do everything in its power to depress rate increases at least until the next election.

But Ontario’s already higher hydro bills will double or triple in future years unless the McGuinty government stops overpaying for wind and solar and rethinks its pledge to abandon cheap, efficient coal plants, he said.

“In the U.K there’s a term that’s become a household term — it’s called fuel poverty,” Solomon said. “They now need subsidies to make their energy payments and we are headed in the same direction.”

Energy ad campaign all charged up

Last Updated: September 23, 2010 6:38pm

The cost of a $3 million advertising campaign to encourage Ontarians to use less electricity is going straight to their hydro bills.

PC energy critic John Yakubuski said the ads by Ontario Power Authority (OPA) promote the Dalton McGuinty government’s viewpoint on energy.

“With all the money that families are paying for the OPA’s Liberal spin, are you thinking of changing the name to the Ontario Propaganda Authority?” Yakabuski said in the Legislature Thursday.

Tim Butters, of the OPA, said the radio and TV spots were produced at a cost of $400,000, plus the $2.6 million media buy.

The ads will appear on television until October 11.

“We cut costs for this campaign from campaigns of this kind in previous years,” Butters said in an e-mail. “It is a part of our efforts to build a culture of conservation in Ontario.

“Ontario has a target to reduce peak-demand by 6,300 megawatts by 2025,” he said. “Together with the local distribution companies, the province has achieved 1,700 MW of peak-demand reduction so far.”

The ad features a backdrop of wind turbines and solar panels, and shows individuals plugging into smart power bars and removing an old fridge.

“A cleaner Ontario is up to all of us,” the ad says.

Thursday, September 23, 2010


I posted a simple version of this in the Spring. Time to revisit it and expand. I feel strongly that this is the only way we are going to get control of the entire energy sector, and out of the hands of government.

Ontario was once the powerhouse of industry with cheap power available to run that industry. Today we have the most expensive power in North America save two or three states in the US, and industry is leaving, or not setting roots here, because of that. The first priority of any next government is to restore Ontario to a cheap power regime and entice industry to return to the Province.

The claim is that energy prices will just keep going up. Maybe, maybe not. That depends on the ingenuity of those of us who think that Ontario’s future is in cheap power, not more expensive power.

Modern civilization runs on one main, core, aspect: lots of net energy available at a very cheap cost. Every aspect of this civilization is build, and requires, large net cheap energy.

A modern civilization requires that the cost of that net energy be cheap enough for everyone to afford. Not only is energy directly needed by people to power and heat their homes, but every item they buy has an energy cost in it.

Discretionary income, monies available to people to buy non-essential items, requires that energy not be a large component of the essential expenses. Increase the cost of energy, and people have less money for the "frivolous" items, such as going out for dinner, hobbies, charitable activities, traveling to visit family, or even vacations. Those in the lower income brackets, who have little or no discretionary income, will have to do with less of other necessities, like food, when energy prices increase.

With people spending less on food or "frivolous" items that means less of these items are purchased, that means less money for the companies and stores that provide those items, that means people laid off in those industries. Thus increasing energy costs to consumers means people lose their jobs, who then pay no taxes and must be supported by the government's IE benefits, which increases government expenses, which they either borrow or get from you in higher taxes, squeezing you even more.

Add to that when energy costs increase, industry pass those costs to the consumer. When retail outlets have higher energy costs they add even more onto the price of those items. This in turn puts more items out of reach, so fewer are sold, meaning layoffs.

To add salt to the wound, the Bank of Canada sees the increase in energy as core contributor of inflation, adding non-core item price increases due to the core energy price increase, and there is an over all increase in inflation. BoCs reaction is to increase interest rates in an attempt to throttle those increases.

Except it can't because energy increases are not curtailed by increases in interest rates because as people consume less energy to try and save on costs (where physically possible), the energy providers ask for more increases to compensate for the loss! (ie the Global Adjustment. In Germany when demand is low they PAY consumers to use more. Here we charge people more because the producers are losing. The GA does not force power producers to become efficient when demand is down, such as in this recession.)

What a mess increasing energy costs precipitate! It's a vicious positive feedback cycle.

But there is more.

Those who wish for us to get off, completely, from fossil fuels want us to move more to electrical power, specifically for heating (ground source heat pumps), and electric vehicles. Electric vehicles will put the biggest demand increase on power production. One can do the calculation and see that in order to replace the 15billion liters of gasoline Ontario consumes every year with electric vehicles would mean we would have to more than DOUBLE our nuclear capacity.

They want us to move to more electrical devices to curb fossil fuel use, but they want to charge more for that power. Quick way to kill the economy. If fossil fuel prices are poised to increase, electrical power must be as cheap as possible to be a viable alternative to FF use.

The bottom line is higher power costs, which increases prices to consumers, is the root of the problem. It was suggested in the meeting that we provide choices to consumers on what type of payment options they wish to buy into. Sounds good on paper, but that is just tinkering with prices. It does not fundamentally change the costs to provide power in the first place. No pricing options are going to stop prices from rising as costs to produce power keep rising.

We must take cost increases head on. We need a fundamental top down change in how power is produced, administered, and managed in this Province.

Thus this is what I propose should be done. The OPA should take over the role of the OEB, and incorporate the IESO as part of OPA (or some new agency). It should be funded from the sale of power, not the government, and an arm’s length organization. They implement and govern the power system of the province. They would be responsible for buying and selling of power in the province. They would do all billings of electrical use, not H1 (H1’s recent predatory nature to consumers makes them radioactive to a future new government, they have to lose billings).

They would also be responsible for funding of all energy production projects. The President of this organization is appointed by the Ontario Energy Board of Directors (see below), and reports only to that board, not the government.

A new board, Ontario Energy Board of Directors (OEBoD) would be created replacing the OEB, is to be restructured to be just a board, funded by the Provincial Government, but no one appointed by the government. The board members would consist of the following people in no specific order:
-- Minister of Energy (The minister not someone he/she appoints)
-- Chief Executive of the OPA
-- One appointee from the OPG
-- One appointee from H1
-- One appointee from retailers and municipal distributors

None of those positions can be Chair of the Board.

The rest of the board, some 8-12 seats, would be one appointee from various associations of consumer stakeholders only (no advocacy groups) including from industry, farming, home owners. Any organization of consumers only would be free to apply for a seat at the board approved by the board. A minimum of 8 people would be required. That Board of Directors reports to the Government, but not directed by the Government.

The Chair would be voted from that group only, with a maximum of 2 years in that position.

The Board's duties would be to set the goals and directions of future energy production and transmission in the province. They would set regulations and prices. They would be responsible for approving new production based on facts and evidence, not what is considered politically correct, or what some political or environmental advocacy group wishes to peddle.

Anyone would be able to present their case to the Board, including the suggestion of price options should the next government wish to go that route. Board sessions would be entirely public similar to how Congressional Hearings are done in the US. Cross-examination would be conducted, and expert witnesses called to testify.

Once all submissions are completed, the Board would vote requiring a super majority (75%) to confirm a plan. The Board would then order the OPA to carry out the plan.

This process would put the production of power in this province into the hands of the consumers of that power. This is what is required when producers of power have a monopoly and the political party in power has an agenda based not on science, but ideology.

Is this proposal workable and has a possibility of implementation? It would mean appending or repealing a few Provincial Acts. Thus it is up to the voters.

Ontario consumers to face higher electricity bills from profit-boosting

TORONTO— Globe and Mail Update
Published Thursday, Sep. 23, 2010 1:42PM EDT

Electricity consumers facing rapidly rising bills in Ontario have another reason to complain after revelations on Thursday that power generators and distributors were given the go-ahead to boost their profits.

The province’s energy regulator has ruled that Ontario Power Generation, as well as all licensed electricity distributors and transmitters, are allowed to earn returns on equity of 9.85 per cent for this year, up from 8.4 per cent in 2009.

The higher rate will go straight to the bottom line for these companies and add another $240-million a year to consumers’ electricity bills, said New Democrat Leader Andrea Horwath.

The new returns on equity took effect May 1 and were quietly approved last February by the Ontario Energy Board. The Energy Board’s ruling came to light on Thursday when Ms. Horwath raised it during Question Period.

“Ontario families are scrambling to deal with sky-high hydro bills,” she said. “Does the Premier think it’s fair to actually ask consumers to pay even more just to ensure healthy profits for hydro utilities?”

Energy Minister Brad Duguid, who is already under fire over rising electricity rates, insisted that the higher returns apply only to private utilities in the province and not to Crown-owned Ontario Power Generation and Hydro One. He said he has no control over how much profit private utilities earn.

”These local distribution companies are private companies,” Mr. Duguid told reporters on Thursday. “Their returns are set by the OEB. The government doesn’t have input into that.”

However, the Energy Board’s letter is addressed to Ontario Power Generation and “all licensed electricity distributors and transmitters” as well as gas distributors. A spokesman for the Energy Board confirmed that the new rate does indeed apply to every electricity entity, including OPG and Hydro One.

Mr. Duguid told reporters that hydro rates are climbing because the province is making investments to modernize the system and replace pollution-spewing coal plants with cleaner sources of electricity.

However, Ms. Horwath said the higher returns approved by the Energy Board have nothing to do with making investments and will go straight to their bottom lines.

“Why should families, struggling with their bills, fork over an extra $60 a year just to fatten the profits of already-profitable utilities?,” she said.

The government’s electricity policies dominated Question Period.

“Right across the board in Dalton McGuinty’s hydro bureaucracy, people are getting fat and rich ...while seniors and families are getting whacked every time they open their hydro bills,” Progressive Conservative Leader Tim Hudak told reporters.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010


Only in a Third World socialist/communist/dictatorial government are people forced to change their habits to what the government and special interest groups have planned.

Only in a Third World socialist/communist/dictatorial government are essentials for life rationed to the point of everyone being poor and dependant on government.

This is the road we are on, make no mistake about it.

There are eco-environmental groups and NGO's who want us to live like we did in the Middle Ages. (except them the elites of course). These people, who are successfully lobbying government and have infiltrated key positions in government, are anti-individualism, anti-democracy, anti-freedom, and anti-modern civilization. Their goal is to kill Western Civilization and our way of life. Return us to poverty of the Middle Ages.

Their efforts to force "conservation" of energy, their efforts for force "renewables" on to us, their efforts for make energy priced out of ability to pay is not what a modern society is about. If we need more power, BUILD MORE RELIABLE PLANTS!

China just signed a 25 year agreement for coal from Russia to power their country. They aren't worried about "global warming" because they know it is a Western obsession, not a real threat. They know that a modern society is built on plentiful cheap reliable power. They aren't stupid!

Yet we have people here who are stupid. People who have control over government policies. People who feel they need to be righteous by "saving the planet", and to hell with the fate of everyone else. Individuals in their mind have no value.

Everyone needs to stand up and stop this from proceeding further. Hell, even the Castro brothers now admit communism doesn't work.

"You can't fix stupid, but you can vote it out."

Peak prices need to be between 3-5 times greater than off peak

Ontario Tories would scrap smart meters
Lee Greenberg, Postmedia News: Wednesday, September 15, 2010

TORONTO - Ontario

Opposition leader Tim Hudak will allow consumers to switch off their smart meters if elected in 2011, he said Wednesday.

Responding to reports of the program's ineffectiveness, Hudak said he would allow hydro customers to revert to flat-rate pricing.

"These smart meters are expensive experiments," Hudak said in a statement. "(Premier) Dalton McGuinty needs to freeze the installation, fix the problems and prove to families this will save them money. As premier, I will give families a choice."

Energy Minister Brad Duguid called Hudak's idea "unintelligent public policy" that would take the province's energy system back to "the dark ages."

Time-of-use pricing makes electricity rates cheaper at night and on weekends in an effort to ease strain on the system during daytime hours.

However, experts say there is not enough difference between off-peak pricing, 5.3 cents per kWh and peak pricing of 9.9 cents per kWh. Peak prices need to be between 3-5 times greater than off peak, according to the province's leading environmental voice, Gord Miller.

A study by Toronto Hydro of its first 10,000 customers on time-of-use pricing revealed that roughly two in three saw their average bills rise.


[RW: This is the same Gord Miller that had this article in the Toronto Star today:

It is factually incorrect in his ascertion that Ontario has seen a greater rise in temps. See my blog at for an in depth analysis of temperatures in Canada since the 1900's. Summers are cooling, while winters are less cold. And that is supposed to be bad? In the mid 1920's they had much hotter summers and far colder winters than we have today. ]

McGuinty's admission a shocker

Last Updated: September 19, 2010 2:00am

Premier Dalton McGuinty, having launched Ontario on a billion-dollar smart meter experiment, now admits the electricity pricing scheme that’s supposed to make it all work, isn’t.

Terrific! Now he tells us. Couldn’t his experts have figured this out before he started installing smart meters all over the province?

Worse, McGuinty’s government has been sending out conflicting signals on whether smart meters are even supposed to save us money.

Right now, most hydro customers who have smart meters — and we’re all getting them eventually — are seeing their bills rise. And that’s just because of the meters.

It doesn’t include all the other rate increases because of such things as McGuinty’s Green Energy Act and his 8% tax hike on electricity, as of July 1, due to the HST.

McGuinty says the problem with the smart meters is the cheaper, off-peak rate of 5.3¢ per kwh, to encourage people to do things like laundry and dish-washing between 9 p.m. and 7 a.m. on weekdays, or at any time on weekends and statutory holidays, isn’t enough of an incentive to change old habits.

For that reason, he said, he might lower off-peak rates to provide a greater price differential, compared to the mid-peak rate of 8¢ per kwh and on-peak rate of 9.9¢ per kwh.

But under opposition questioning in the legislature, McGuinty wouldn’t rule out RAISING mid-peak and on-peak rates to increase the differential from off-peak.

Besides, the smart meter pricing system is so confusing it’s no wonder few consumers who have them are changing their habits.

While the times for off-peak rates are constant throughout the year, mid-peak and on-peak occur at different times during the winter and summer months, causing further confusion.

In “summer” — defined as May 1 to Oct. 31 — mid-peak rates apply from 7 a.m. to 11 a.m. and 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. weekdays, while on-peak rates apply from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

But in “winter” — defined as Nov. 1 to April 30 — the charges reverse, with on-peak rates applied from 7 a.m. to 11 a.m. and 5 p.m. to 9 p.m., while mid-peak occurs from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Good luck keeping track of all that.

Plus, there’s so little difference between the mid-peak and on-peak rates — 8¢ versus 9.9¢ per kwh — it’s hard to see many customers changing their electricity use patterns because of them.

Finally, despite the premier’s insistence smart meters can save people money if consumers take advantage of them, an aide to former interim energy minister Gerry Phillips told the Sun earlier this year “smart meters are more about creating awareness of energy use, rather than helping people save money.”

Great. So which is it, premier?

And why do you appear to be making up your policies on electricity pricing on the fly?

Smart meters don’t look so smart

Smart meters don’t look so smart
Waterloo Record

September 16, 2010 Editorial

It’s always easier for politicians to conceive of a good idea than deliver that idea alive and kicking into the real world. Just ask Ontario’s governing Liberals, whose so-called “smart” hydro meters look far less intelligent today than when they were first proposed many months, and $1 billion in spending, ago. In fact, you could say the whole scheme was short-circuited by the Liberals themselves.

These were the meters that were supposed to help people cut their electricity bills by shifting some of their heaviest consumption to times of day when the province’s overall demand for energy has fallen. So, as consumers saved themselves money, they would take stress off the system in the hours of peak energy demands and reduce the need for Ontario to import costly hydro from the United States. It was to be, in the preferred jargon of bureaucrats, a “win-win” situation for all. This, at least, was the theory.

Perhaps predictably, for the government that gave us the eHealth foul-up, things didn’t go as planned.

The latest reports show that consumers on smart meters largely are delaying very little of their heavy electrical use until after 9 p.m. and before 7 a.m. As a result, very little energy is being conserved.

One reason for this failure is that even the people who use their smart meters and delay washing clothes or dishes until after 9 a.m. are seeing their energy bills go up, not down. This electricity cost surge is due not only to the harmonized sales tax recently introduced by the Liberals but to the rising price of energy, something the Liberals also approved. The off-peak rates of 5.3 cents per kilowatt hour are actually 20 per cent higher than they were a year ago.

It’s true that using the smart meters and delaying heavy consumption to specific times of day is still cheaper than using a lot of electricity during the more expensive peak hours. The trouble is, given the overall rise in hydro costs, even the most frugal and conservation-conscious consumers don’t feel as if they’re saving money because the bills they get each month have gone through the roof. Any incentive is too small for them to see.

Moreover, when the $1 billion cost of installing all these smart meters is taken into consideration, the faltering start to the entire initiative is even more disappointing.

Nor is there a quick fix in the Liberals’ tool box. Increasing the price difference even more between the cheaper off-peak rate and the peak rate would persuade more people to change their habits and use their smart meters to take advantage of time-of-use pricing.

But lowering the off-peak rate might lead to another hike in the peak rate. That would take a nasty bite out of consumers who still don’t even have a smart meter. It could also hurt seniors who might understandably feel too tired to reschedule heavy energy using chores to late night.
Smart meters are still a good idea, even if their delivery was spoiled by other Liberal policies.

But unless Premier McGuinty can sort this one out soon, he may feel the jolt from voters in next year’s provincial election.

Excerpts from recent newspapers

The Ontario NDP are sending this around.

"A great big light bulb seems to have turned on in the brain of Premier Dalton
McGuinty this week. Finally, he's realized what countless Ontarians already
knew: The so-called "smart" hydro meters introduced by his government look far
less intelligent today than when they were first proposed many months, and $1
billion in spending, ago. And you could even say the whole scheme was
short-circuited by the Liberals themselves."

Waterloo Record, September 16

"Premier Dalton McGuinty, having launched Ontario on a billion-dollar smart
meter experiment, now admits the electricity pricing scheme that's supposed to
make it all work, isn't. Terrific! Now he tells us. Couldn't his experts have
figured this out before he started installing smart meters all over the

Ottawa Sun, September 19

"McGuinty's promise to encourage more off-peak use with even lower off-peak
prices apparently comes with a catch. Asked the next day if that meant peak
power prices would have to be even higher in order to even out the equation in
favour of the government's need for debt-reducing revenue, he refused to say."

Thunder Bay Chronicle Journal, September 17

"I am exhausted from being up all day caring for three small children, and being
up most of the night doing my laundry, vacuuming and making as many meals as
possible because I have a "dumb" meter. These dumb meters and time shifting are
nothing more or less than discriminatory, punishing and time-rigged to be
difficult, exhausting and the most expensive when you need to use your hydro the

Letter to the Editor, Hamilton Spectator, September 20

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Bruce Power got millions to not produce electricity

Updated: Tue Sep. 21 2010 6:10:23 PM

The people of Ontario paid Bruce Power nearly $60 million in 2009 to not generate electricity for the province, CTV Toronto has learned.

A deal between the nuclear generator, a private company, and the Ontario Power Authority (OPA) sets out a guarantee for a certain amount of power to be purchased -- even if it's not needed.

The technical term is called surplus baseload generation. The agency agreed to pay Bruce $48.33 for each megawatt hour of electricity that was not needed.

In 2009, demand for electricity was down in Ontario, largely as a result of the recession. This meant Bruce's nuclear reactors weren't operating at full capacity.

As a result, the OPA paid Bruce power $57.5 million for about 1.2 terawatt hours of electricity that was not produced. A terawatt is a million megawatts.

Ben Chin, a vice-president of the OPA, said the arrangement is like having a fire station. They aren't needed all the time, but one must still pay to keep it open.

The OPA also said this deal keeps taxpayers off the hook for any cost over-runs. Bruce is spending billions of dollars to refurbish its nuclear reactors and may be about $3 billion over-budget.

The OPA said taxpayers actually got a bargain through the arrangement with Bruce. A Bruce Power spokesperson said the company is fulfilling its side of the deal.

With a report from CTV Toronto's Paul Bliss

Ontario’s Power Trip: Convenient untruths

September 21, 2010 – 3:58 pm

Parker Gallant

Ontario electricity consumers recently received fresh electricity bills showing that rates have continued their upward climb and there’s more to come. The bills, from Hydro One (H1) and Toronto Hydro (TH), also contained inserts that simultaneously try to deflect blame for the increases, point to all the wonderful things going on in the electricity sector. and explain why rates increased.

TH bragged that it had since 2005 “managed to help you reduce Toronto’s consumption” by 6,580,000 kWh hours. For consumers who don’t have calculators handy, the amount they helped Ontario consumers reduce was worth about $250,000 ($50,000 per annum or less than 8 cents per TH customer). These inserts probably cost more to print.

The TH insert warns the infrastructure is falling apart and that it is “moving quickly to address this issue.” After paying 60% of their annual net income to the City of Toronto since 2004 as dividends, ($234 Million) they tell us that the “falling apart” infrastructure needs to be addressed. Your rates are going to go up because they now have to spend money they gave to the city–on infrastructure. Great planning! TH has also applied for an increase of 18.2% to take place early next year.

H1′s insert was much more detailed and states delivery rates “for a typical residential customer” are up 8% and the delivery line of your bill is “about 40%” of its total. H1 have a chart with 6 service types that give each an idea of the increase ranging from 5.8% to 15.5% (average increase of 9.35%). H1 blames the increase on 5 factors of which the first two echo TH’s message about replacing and upgrading infrastructure. The 3rd and 4th are both related to green initiatives and the money spent on “smart grid installations” and to “connect renewable generation”. The final reason is to tell us about all the remaining costs like “capital costs” (the first four are all capital costs) and “compensation.”

H1′s insert goes on about the other increases; 8% for Regulated Price Plan customers, Time-of-Use prices (no percentage provided), the HST (13% will replace 5%) and a “Special Purpose Charge” in the “Regulatory Charges on your bill” line. H1 even advises the recipient that they will let them know about their 2011 delivery rate increase “later this fall.”

Finally, H1′s insert also tells us they paid the Province $188 Million in dividends in 2009 but what they don’t tell you is that they paid the Province $259 Million in 2008 and that they have only paid the Province $19 Million (down $116 Million) for the first 6 months of the current year. Green spending reduces their ability to both provide a return to the taxpayers and to reduce the “stranded debt”.

So, Ontario electricity consumers, brace yourselves for more super sized rate increases.

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

New data proves smart meter scheme costing everyone more

Queen’s Park – Andrea Horwath, Leader of Ontario’s New Democrats, says data from Toronto Hydro confirms that Dalton McGuinty’s so-called smart meters have raised rates for 80 per cent of consumers and aren’t producing any conservation gains for Ontario.

“Dalton McGuinty’s so-called smart meters make eHealth look like a bargain. For a billion and half dollars we have a scheme that leaves 80 per cent of people paying higher rates without shifting usage patterns,” said Horwath. “There’s nothing smart about Dalton McGuinty’s smart meters when it’s hiking people’s hydro bills.”

A Toronto Hydro study looked at ten thousand households in Toronto that have been billed using so-called smart meters since 2009. The study confirmed that after a year of operation:

• On average 80 percent of households have been paying higher rates than before smart meters were installed and there has been little if any shift in household energy consumption.

• In one billing period – from June to September, 2009 – ninety-two per cent of households paid more.

• On average, households seeing an increase were paying anywhere from 2 to 7 per cent more.

• These increases are separate from the added cost to households for the cost of the smart meter itself. Across Ontario, consumers will be paying $1.25 – $4.45 a month for decades to recover these costs.

“The McGuinty Liberals have spent billions on a scheme that leaves people paying more and leaves Ontario falling behind in our conservation goals,” said Horwath.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Lawrence Solomon: Are you frying your eggs at 4 a.m. yet?

Instead of retooling the technology, retool the people

By Lawrence Solomon

Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty is under fire for forcing smart meters onto the province’s electricity customers.

The meters make no economic sense for consumers, critics point out, costing consumers far more than can ever be offset through lower power bills.

The meters, in fact, make perfect sense when understood from Mr. McGuinty’s viewpoint, despite a total price tag estimated to run as high as $10-billion.

Mr. McGuinty isn’t in this for the money — if he was, he wouldn’t be closing economical coal plants while sinking cash into money-losing ­nuclear plants and money-losing long-distance transmission lines to carry power from money-losing industrial wind farms. These and his other money-losing initiatives will cause Ontario’s power prices to double or triple should he get his way.

No, Mr. McGuinty is in this to transform the province’s power system to make it coal free and reliant on nuclear and wind power. Money is no obstacle to him but Ontario citizens and businesses are, because they don’t behave as he’d like them to — and as his technologies of choice need them to behave.

Nuclear power, for example, is a technology that needs to run 24/7 for reasons of safety as well as economics. Nuclear can’t ramp up to meet the peak needs of Ontarians at, for example, 7 am, when people wake up and turn on their toasters, and nuclear can’t power down at 3 am, when most people are asleep and most factories lie idle.

This operating characteristic of nuclear power poses no problem for Mr. McGuinty during the day, when Ontarians consume all the nuclear power available to them. But it can be a problem big-time in the middle of the night when no one needs the excess power, not even customers in the United States, not even for free. To deal with Ontario’s unwanted nuclear surplus, the provincial power system at times even pays customers to take it off their hands — the more of this off-peak power they consume, the lower their power bills will be. At other times, the power system will spill water at hydroelectric facilities, rather than having them generate hydro power, in order to keep those nuclear reactors running.

Wind turbines create a similar off-peak problem for Mr. McGuinty. Like nuclear plants, power from wind turbines can’t be dispatched to ­customers when customers need it — the wind has a mind of its own. To make matters worse, the wind tends to blow best overnight, when it’s least needed.

Because Mr. McGuinty can’t retool his favoured technologies to get them to conform to the schedules of Ontarians, he has decided to retool Ontarians to get them to conform to the operating schedules of his technologies. This he is doing by punishing people and businesses who consume power at inconvenient times through high rates, to cajole them into shifting their usage to lower-cost off-peak periods.

So far, the punishment — a mere doubling of peak rates compared with off-peak — hasn’t been severe enough. Too few people are frying their eggs before 7 am — the time at which the punishment starts — and too many are cooking their dinners at 7 pm — smack dab during the peak punishment period. Mr. McGuinty’s solution? “We’ve got to make sure the differential between peak and off-peak is significant, so significant that it motivates people,” he explained this week.

By fiat, not by any rule of economics, Mr. McGuinty has decided that off-peak power users should be paying less, meaning that everyone else will necessarily need to pay more.

In this grand exercise to restructure the province’s power system, the Ontario citizen is a means to an end — making Ontario safe for nuclear and wind power.

Lawrence Solomon is executive director of Energy Probe and the author of The Deniers.

Read more:

Friday, September 17, 2010

Consumers Resist Smart Meters After $3.4 Billion Stimulus Push

"Even with $3.4 billion in U.S. stimulus funds behind it, the race to install smart meters is starting to lose momentum, Bloomberg Businessweek reports in its Sept. 20 issue.

“The meters don’t benefit the consumer; they cost a lot of money, and we can’t opt out,” says Joshua Hart, the California- based director of Scotts Valley Neighbors Against Smart Meters.
In Hawaii, regulators rejected a $115 million plan in July by Hawaiian Electric Co. to install smart meters that residents and businesses would pay for. Almost a dozen California cities and counties have asked regulators to halt installations, saying the devices send inaccurate data to utilities. Homeowners in Bakersfield, California, have filed a class-action lawsuit against San Francisco-based PG&E, accusing the utility of overcharging since smart meters were installed in homes.

A study by Structure Group, a Houston-based independent consultant, found that PG&E’s smart meters are more accurate than the older versions they replaced. Paul Moreno, a PG&E spokesman, says the meters will save customers money over the long term. "

Thursday, September 16, 2010


Not so dumb meters

The opposition parties at Queen’s Park have found a new bogeyman: smart meters, the devices that not only measure the volume of electricity used but also record the time of day. With the newly installed meters, local hydro companies can charge households a lower rate for electricity used during off-peak hours (after 9 p.m.). Spreading out demand will put less pressure on the system at peak.

That’s not how Conservative Leader Tim Hudak sees it, however. “Smart meters … squeeze more money out of the wallets of hard-working Ontario families,” he said in the legislature on Wednesday. “These are not smart meters; they’re nothing but (Premier) Dalton McGuinty’s latest tax machine.”

This is arrant nonsense. The meters provide consumers with choice: some -- those who are able to schedule their appliance use in off-peak hours -- will pay less on their hydro bills; others will pay more. Overall, the effect is revenue neutral.

Yes, hydro rates are going up for everyone, but that is not attributable to smart meters. Rather, rates are rising because the Liberal government is investing billions in new power plants and transmission lines after years of neglect under the preceding Conservative and NDP administrations. The days of cheap energy are over.

Conservatives and New Democrats are both suggesting hydro rates should be frozen. The problem with this suggestion is that the money is still needed for investments in power plants and lines. If the money doesn’t come from ratepayers, it will have to come from taxpayers (as it did in the last year of the Conservative government under Ernie Eves). The only other option is to stop investing and watch the system deteriorate to the point where we can no longer keep the lights on.

[RW: Note the comments, this is hitting everyone.]

CTV Lead Story: H1 admits to problems with the smart meters

Hi Mr. Wakefield,

I just thought I'd pass along my congratulations at finally being vindicated by Ontario Hydro (or whatever they call themselves). CTV news had a lead story at lunchtime about OH finally admitting that there was a problem with the smart meters--specifically that they can have inaccurate readings. The readings tend to be higher than the actual hydro used. According to the story, OH told the government, in a letter, last year that there was a problem with the meters. Now OH is saying that the government should slow down on implementation. At least until OH can get the problem fixed. It may also mean a by-hand recalculation of hydro bills.

Should be interesting.

Fighting Excessive Ontario Hydro Costs Petition



And most of it due to the Green Energy Act's Feed-in Tariff program so says a new report.

Ontario Electricity Total Bil Impact Analysis, August 2011 to July 2015 was prepared for the
Canadian Manufacturers & Exporters by Aegent Energy Advisors Inc.

It is available as a PDF on line here.

It is a must read.

For residential consumers they conclude:

Based on the forecast total unit cost increase and depending on the reference
unit cost, by early 2015, residential consumers would see their total unit cost
rise by 38% - 47% (over the significant increase already experienced in 2010).
This is equivalent to an average, annual, compounded increase of 6.7 - 8.0%
(again, over the significant increase already experienced in 2010).

For commercial consumers:

Based on the forecast total unit cost increase and depending on the reference
unit cost, by early 2015, non-residential consumers would see their total unit
cost rise by 47% - 64% (over the increase already experienced in 2010). This is
equivalent to an average, annual, compounded increase of 8.0% - 10.4% (again,
over the increase already experienced in 2010).

The cause of this increase is shown in the table on page 6 reproduced here:

Cumulative increase in Millions $

20112012201320142015% increase
Feed-In- Tariff (FIT)4819631,4442,6463,848700%
Renewable Energy Standard Offer Program (RESOP)-110220330330200%
Renewables (other)-73666961271%
Bruce Power (existing)1429435874429%
Bruce Power (new)-37740444346122%
Natural Gas5786111111192237%
Non-Utility Generators (NUGs)9419715825817081%
Conservation and Demand Management (COM)105187226265267154%
Distribution (non-Green Energy tlt)80163206249293266%
Distribution (Green Energy tlt)156310465615759387%

The cumulative total dollar increase from 2011 to early 2015 is $ 7.739 billion.
Note: The % increase was added, did not show in the original document.

Notice the Feed-In Tariff dominates the share of the increased costs of providing power. Include all costs of "green" energy combined and they take up 66% of the coming increase.

What is disturbing is this report claims, with justification, that demand will stay flat up and through 2015. So increased costs big time, more than $7 BILLION, but not more consumption.

Guess who is expected to pay for this.

With a 47-65% increase in power costs for business, that is going to drive business out of the province and at the same time increase the costs of every single item you buy that has this cost added in. Thus you, the consumer, are going to get a double whammy, as I predicted in the first month of this blog.