A longtime rural resident, I use my 60 plus years of life learning to opinionate here and elsewhere on the “interweb” on everything from politics to environmental issues. A believer in reasonable discourse rather than unhelpful attacks I try to give positive input to the blogesphere, so feel free to comment upon rural issues or anything else posted here. But don’t be surprised if you comments get zapped if you are not polite in your replys.

Friday, January 8, 2010

The Price of Hydro

Like so many others I generally support the move towards self-sufficiency whist at the same time reducing our impact upon our environment but have to question some of the decisions made regarding “green power”. Setting aside for now the visual impact that wind farms have upon our countryside and the unproved (unresearched) impact that the turbines have upon nearby (largely rural) residents and the questionable placement of large solar arrays over arable land, setting aside the fact that neither wind power or solar is a 24hr a day 7 day a week means of generation, let us instead look at the costs that consumers must eventual pay.

This from a Globe and Mail article recently-

“The average market price for electricity in Ontario is at its lowest level since the market was opened up in 2002. It was 3.3 cents a kilowatt hour yesterday, compared with a record high average of 9.97 cents in September, 2005. But customers are not reaping the benefits of lower prices because the government is recovering the cost of new projects from power users.”
“The Ontario Power Authority, the government’s planning arm, says it managed 47 large-scale electricity supply contracts worth a total of $14.1-billion last year. Contract holders receive a fixed price over 20 years for the electricity they produce – 13.5 cents a kilowatt hour for on-shore wind farms and up to 80.2 cents for solar power. While wind and solar make up only a small portion of electricity supply today, the rates are well above the average of 4.5 cents that government-owned Ontario Power Generation receives for most of its electricity output.”

One of the arguments that opponents of nuclear power make is the high cost of building and maintaining nuclear generation facilities but even taking into consideration that “debt repayment” bit we see on our hydro bills the cost is nowhere near the fixed price being offered the private corporations to “encourage” them to build new wind or solar facilities. Given the glut of applications for wind farms (to the dismay of most of those impacted by these installations) the price must indeed be generous and more than pay for the investment!

There is little doubt that consumer prices for hydro are going to rise, in fact once time of day metering is instituted this summer in most areas of Ontario daytime prices will approximately double. This is still well below the “cost” of wind power and not even in the same ballpark as solar. Look at it this way, “cheap” nuclear power is subsidizing the “expensive” wind and solar power in that the price you pay is the “average market price” and if other forms of generation were receiving the same as say wind power corporations we would all be paying approximately FOUR TIMES as much for our hydro. To those who want to do away with nuclear power and rely entirely upon “renewable resources” I say beware what you wish for.

Just to be clear I support the use of wind generation to supplement nuclear or hydroelectric when such installations are placed away from residential areas (that includes rural residences) such as offshore or other unpopulated places. I support the use of solar power, expensive as the installations may be, on roof tops and individual homes provided that such thing can be done at a reasonable competitive price, but the go green at any price is not to my mind “sustainable”!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Read the comments here on costs of rooftop solar:


George Smitherman doubled the rate from 42 to 80.2 cents per kWh overnight. Shortly thereafter he resigned to run for Toronto mayor. Many suspect the two are not unrelated. Uneconomical subsidies of all forms of green energy are politically popular in large urban cities, particularly Toronto which believes it is on the forefront of the green movement.