Posted: August 17, 2017 at 9:12 am   /   by   /   comments (7)

Ontario is currently working toward another electricity import deal with Quebec. It is likely a good thing. Most of our neighbour’s electricity is generated by massive hydro dams on the James Bay and St. Lawrence watershed—so, by today’s convoluted meaning of the word, it is clean. It is also reliable and manageable—the opposite of the wind and solar power sources in which Ontario has invested billions over the past 15 years. The deal is expensive, however, about 40 per cent richer than Quebec earns from other exported electricity contracts.

But here is the interesting bit.

Coincidentally, the quantity of imported power represented in this deal, combined with another with Quebec in 2015— equals almost precisely the total electricity generated by wind and solar in Ontario. Ten terawatt hours of wind and solar are being made redundant by ten terawatt hours of hydro electricity. Maybe coincidence is the wrong word.

Put another away—the nearly useless intermittent power generated by wind and solar has been replaced by two power deals with Quebec. Electricity that is cheaper, cleaner and manageable.

It’s a sign, perhaps, the adults have wrested control of the province’s energy management away from the politicians.

The deal illustrates rather bluntly that Ontario’s wind and solar power projects are like costume jewellery—showy and glittery to a distracted public, but bearing little actual value.

Worse, these intermittent electricity trinkets are a persistent headache to the electricity system operator. Each year we spill enough electricity through exports to neighbouring jurisdictions, including Michigan and New York, to power a large part of their economies. We regularly export this power at a loss—sometimes we pay them to take it.

Sickeningly we spend as much as a $1 billion each year for others to take our unwanted electricity. Without these outlets, however, Ontario’s power grid would succumb to the variability of wind and sunlight on an electrical grid ill-equipped to endure it. And electrical systems operators in Michigan and New York know it.

So, they take advantage.

It is sophisticated modernday larceny. Here is how it works. Lacking formal purchase agreements, Michigan buys Ontario electricity mostly on the spot market, typically paying between one and two cents per kilowatt hour (kWh)—a fraction of what it costs the state to generate its own electricity. (The County’s Parker Gallant does a much more thorough job of explaining how this works in his regular contributions to the Wind Concerns Ontario blog, the Financial Post and other publications.)

To its credit and downfall, Ontario’s electricity market is utterly transparent—anyone with a computer can monitor the demand for electricity and the supply available at any given moment (as well as many other facets of the system). They can see plainly when the province is headed for a critical system overload— when Ontario must shed power or risk catastrophe. Folks in Michigan know it too. They know when Ontario will be calling them to offload electricity. They are happy and ready to oblige.

From time to time, the imbalance between too little demand and too much uncontrollable supply in Ontario’s electricity system becomes so precarious that grid operators in Michigan and New York can actually compel Ontario to pay them to take it the power. It is how it came about that today Ontario now powers about 10 per cent of Michigan’s electricity needs. And we lose money on every kilowatt.

All this has been said and explained before by others. The facts are uncontested. It is all easily verifiable thanks to Ontario’s transparent electricity operations.

Yet we continue to build useless wind and solar projects. We continue to make the problem worse.

Across the channel from Cressy, Amherst Island residents are bracing for a disheartening defeat. Their local government has recently conceded that it has secured the most it is likely to get from the developer of 26 industrial wind turbines and the province in order to protect the residents, the delicate waterway, the roads and other infrastructure as well as the endangered species that reside there. Any lingering regret over its own shortcomings at Loyalist Township hall, however, is likely to be eased by the $500,000 payment it has been promised each year by the industrial wind project owner.

Meanwhile on the ground, the developer’s actions sometimes bear little resemblance to the plans it submitted and promises made when asking from provincial approvals. For example, it told the Environmental Review Tribunal that it would widen only about three kilometres of road. Now it figures it will need to widen more than six times that length—a threat to the Blanding’s turtles and other animals. It is also threatening to fundamentally change the character of this pastoral island for a generation or more.

Folks on Amherst Island have begun to mourn the looming decimation of the quiet, rural island life that drew them to this place. We mourn with them.

Michigan residents, meanwhile, are likely unaware of the sacrifices that some Ontario residents on a wee island are making to subsidize their electricity bills.Will we connect these dots next June?

Comments (7)

  • August 22, 2017 at 12:17 pm Notinduttondunwich


    These export numbers on gridwatch run 24 hours a day … 7 days a week…. there is rarely an hour at any given time that the exporting of our hydro to Michigan and NY is less than 1800 MW …. per hour….in fact that as i write this we are exporting
    2148 MW of power… this is not a surplus at
    3 am….. there is a surplus 24 hrs a day… 7 days a week….. 12 months a year…

    Do you own a wind or solar contract???
    Do you live amongst a turdbine project??
    Is there a wind project slayed for your area?

  • August 21, 2017 at 4:16 am Bruce McQuiggin bs article…oil company propaganda…wind and solar are an endeavor to enable ramping down of nuclear reactors which at present is a costly and technically difficult task …the power we sell at low cost is this surplus power at 3 am that no one really wants and there is little demand for. Big oil is terrified of being replaced by renewable and will “spin” anything to hold on…

    • August 21, 2017 at 10:49 pm Tom

      Big oil cannot be replaced by renewables of any kind in Ontario as we do not generate any electricity from oil.

    • August 22, 2017 at 11:34 am Andre Den Tandt

      ” Wow…total BS “. A marvellous description of your own comment, Bruce. You nicely cherry pick as well, as in ” the power we sell at low cost etc. ” Did you not understand that the power we sell at low cost at 3 a.m. also costs us many times the amount at which we sell it?
      That’s how come we pay so much for our electricity. As for that “big oil” obsession: it’s big natural gas that’s replacing coal, promising enormous supply at reasonable price with half the amount of CO2 released.

    • August 29, 2017 at 9:46 am C Janzen

      If you research carefully Big Oil owns many of the WPD’s

  • August 18, 2017 at 5:24 pm Bob

    great article … thanks .. send it to the Toronto Star and see if it gets published (lol)

  • August 18, 2017 at 11:40 am Richard Mann

    News from Huron County. An investigation into health impacts of wind turbines was initiated in March 2016. (Ontario’s HPPA, Health Protection and Promotion Act). Since then we have had one delay after another, and still no remedy for those living under turbines.

    As of Aug 14, 2017, Erica Clark informed me they have heard back University of Waterloo ethics and have submitted another ethics application to address concerns raised. Meanwhile I have been told that all communications of the ethics board, including the names an positions of the applicants, is confidential.

    I am asking for transparency, and for immediate action on this urgent health issue.

    For further details, including correspondence and my own research on Infra sound and wind turbines, please see my web page below.

    Richard Mann
    Associate Professor, Computer Science
    University of Waterloo

    Encl: Correspondence with Erica Clark. Published with permission.

    From: Erica Clark
    Date: August 14, 2017 at 3:52:44 PM EDT

    You can publish/circulate the following summary:

    Status of the Huron County Health Unit wind turbine study

    The wind turbine study is currently undergoing ethics review. Due to the sensitive nature of the information we intend to collect, ethics clearance is important to ensure the recruitment and data collection methods are ethical. We partnered with researchers from the University of Waterloo to do the study and submitted an application to the University of Waterloo Human Research and Ethics Committee. The application was submitted on March 2, 2017 and reviewed at the March 23, 2017 meeting. On April 5, 2017 we received a letter from the University of Waterloo Human Research Ethics Committee listing revisions and additional information required to receive ethics clearance. We sent a response back to the University of Waterloo Human Research Ethics Committee on May 18, 2017 detailing the changes we had made. The University of Waterloo Human Research Ethics Committee met in June and sent us a second letter on June 27, 2017 outlining additional revisions and requests for clarification. We sent a second response back to the University of Waterloo Human Research Ethics Committee on August 9, 2017. We are now waiting for a response.

    We understand that it is a long process to get ethics clearance but it is a critical step to ensure that the recruitment and data collection methods are ethical.

    Erica Clark, PhD
    Epidemiologist, APHEO Secretary
    Huron County Health Unit
    77722B London Rd., RR #5
    Clinton, ON N0M 1L0
    519.482.3416 ext. 2022
    Toll-free 1.877.837.6143

Comments are closed.