Ontario Power: Is Capacity Planned?

The answer has to be, “no.” Hydro power capacity is not planned in Ontario. It is pretty easy to prove this with a few recent developments.

  • A gas generating plant is planned for Oakville. This is stopped. (The locals hired a person from the US who has a record of stopping projects, a professional broomhandle-in-the-spokes sort of person.)
  • A (smaller) generating plant is planned for Mississauga. This is stopped. (The locals, who are not local to the site at all (could not see it from their homes, any of them) managed to convince a trembling provincial government that four seats could be lost.
  • A generating plant comes online in Bruce. This has been in the works for years, and is much over budget and late. In today’s paper we are told that this extra power source, which one starts and then runs without stopping, will create extra power surpluses.
  • Wind and Solar power is being sold as the Great Green Solution. Catch is, the feed-in tariff is far to high – we can’t afford to buy that power. And, it is not all that schedulable. (While nuclear is always-on, wind and solar are never-certain.)
  • We are trying to get to the point where surplus power is simply given away, rather than paying for it to be taken. Meanwhile one of those global charges on your bill reflects in part the cost of paying outside jurisdictions to take excess power. Those outside jurisdictions don’t pay that surcharge on their regular power, however. We do.
  • It is known that excess power can be used and turned back into electricity later. Efficiencies don’t look that good – 60% seems to be about tops – but that’s a lot better than zero percent, and even that is better than taking a loss to rid oneself of excess power. (Gravity and water, heat sinks, chemical reactions, charging batteries are some of the possibilities.)

Taken together, I submit that the above observations lead to some interesting conclusions.

  • The McGuinty government really believed that Samsung and wind turbines would create jobs and green power.
  • The pushback from citizens (and nut cases) was underestimated. The backlash of turbines on bird kills and noise was underestimated.
  • The difficulty of connecting solar panels to the existing grid was underestimated.
  • The economics of a high feed-in tariff must have been done on a wet napkin. Nobody could possibly believe that such a high rate (over ten times wholesale) could continue at high volume.
  • Power plants were planned, and partly paid for, when a surplus should have been in the forecast.
  • The strategic nature of energy capture and regeneration was never considered.

The last point is perhaps the biggest evidence of failure to understand the simple facts of power generation.

So, the dumb question can be restated as, does anybody still believe that power capacity is planned in Ontario?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *