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By Charles Rhodes, P.Eng., Ph.D.

Electricity is electromagnetic field energy in the proximity of guiding conductors which flows at close to the speed of light.

Due to climate change related constraints on use of fossil fuels electricity will become the primary means for long distance transmission of energy.

This website section examines practical aspects of the Ontario electricity system including:
generation, energy storage, transmission, distribution, measurement, control, reliability and rates.

This website section includes synthetic hydrocarbon synthesis for energy storage and fluid hydrocarbon transport via pipe lines.

In order for non-fossil electricity to economically displace fossil fuels the marginal cost of electrical energy outside of grid peak load periods must be less than the marginal cost of fossil fuel energy to be displaced.

The retail electricity rate structure and the electricity metering should allow both "dependable" and "interruptible" electricity usage by each electricity customer.

"Dependable" electricity is electricity that 99.7% of the time is instantly available on user demand.
"Dependable" electricity is intended for applications where nearly continuous electricity availability is more important than the per kWh electricity cost. In Ontario most consumers are supplied "dependable" electricity.

"Discount" electricity is electricity that is reliably available except on a few days per year of extreme weather when the customer contracts to reduce its demand in exchange for a discounted electricity rate for the balance of the year. In Ontario "discount" electricity is currently supplied via demand response programs.

"Interruptible" electricity is low cost but quite unreliable non-fossil electrical energy that is surplus to the immediate "dependable" and "discount" electricity supply requirements. "Interruptible" electricity is primarily intended for hydrogen generation and for displacement of fossil fuels in hybrid heating systems. In Ontario there is usually "interruptible" electricity available from midnight to 6:00 AM during which period fossil fueled electricity generation is usually shut down.

At times of non-fossil electricity surplus the Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO) can broadcast signals to bypass selected smart meter peak demand calculations and to enable corresponding "interruptible" electricity loads. At times of non-fossil electricity deficiency the IESO can broadcast signals to restore peak demand calculations and to disable "interruptible" electricity loads. Thus in terms of power system reliability "interruptible" loads can replace reserve generation.

To meet electricity system total revenue requirements the blended price of "dependable" electricity must be much higher than the price of "interruptible" electricity. To prevent gaming of the electricity system the cost / kWh must be the same for both "dependable" and "interruptible" electricity. Hence practical implementation of the contemplated new retail electricity rate involves use of the smart meters to levy a charge per measured monthly peak kW or peak kVA as well as a charge per kWh. The price per marginal kWh must be sufficiently low (~ $0.02 / kWh) to financially enable use of available off-peak non-fossil electricity for economic displacement of fossil fuels.

The price per measured monthly peak kW or peak kVA must be set sufficiently high (~ $30.00 / kW to ~ $70.00 / kW depending on demand diversity) to meet the electricity system gross revenue requirement including the Global Adjustment.

The price per monthly peak kW should be initially chosen so that the uninterruptible electricity cost of an average consumer is unaffected by the rate structure change.

It is recommended that the demand metering exponential time constant be two hours corresponding to a 90% step response time of 4.5 hours to enable easy metering and to reasonably reflect small consumer demand diversity and hence the actual cost of meeting the provincial peak load with peaking generation. This averaging time choice may be limited by constraints related to the capabilities of existing metering and data gathering equipment and consumer education. There are reasonable arguments, based on simplicity, for calculating peak demand using a simple one hour average.

Implementation of this new electricity rate structure will eventually lead to installation of energy storage (eg an electric DHW storage tank, electric vehicle, hybrid heating) and load control in almost every building in Ontario.

However, after spending over $2 billion on smart electricity meters the Ontario government has failed to offer an "interruptible" electricity rate to encourage use of surplus low cost renewable energy when it is available. That failure is presently costing the Ontario electricity rate payers over two billion dollars per year in combined lost electricity revenue and excess fossil fuel costs and is causing major unnecessary emission of fossil CO2.

To implement the contemplated new electricity rate there must be an Ontario legislative change which allows Global Adjustment recovery via a charge per measured monthly peak kW or peak kVA instead of via a charge per measured kWh consumed.

This rate concept is not new. During the 1970s similar electricity rates were provided by Toronto Hydro, East York Hydro and Scarborough Hydro to owners of major buildings. During the late 1990s these rates were terminated by politicians who thought that they were smarter than power system engineers. As a result today Ontario discards large amounts of non-fossil generation capacity and has one of the highest retail electricity rates in continental North America.

In recent years multiple tens of billions of dollars of Ontario ratepayers money have been squandered on wind and solar electricity generation which, absent sufficient energy storage, are incapable of reliably meeting the non-fossil electricity needs of Ontario. Typically about 70% of the non-fossil electricity produced by wind and solar generation is either discarded or is exported at extremely low prices. More billions of dollars are currently being squandered by both federal and provincial governments through failure to authorize construction of additional nuclear reactor capacity for displacement of fossil fuels in the transportation and heating sectors and through failure to adopt a much more efficient and much less polluting nuclear fuel cycle.

A related issue is that efficient use of surplus non-fossil electricity to displace natural gas causes the blended price of natural gas to increase because the fixed costs of natural gas pipeline network depreciation and maintenance must be borne by decreasing amounts of natural gas consumed. In an attempt to retain market share the fossil fuel industry has lobbied governments to prevent adoption of electricity rate structures that enable efficient use of surplus non-fossil electricity for displacement of fossil fuels.

In this author's view it is essential for governments to prevent further expanison of the natural gas distribution network except as a means for future distribution of electrolytic hydrogen. All new buildings, new vehicles and new energy infrastructure must function without use of fossil fuels. Even so it will take many decades to fully amortize the existing fossil fuel infrastructure.

The fossil fuel industry rightly regards nuclear energy production as an existential threat and, in spite of the CO2 emission consequences, has conducted a prolonged misinformation campaign aimed at preventing widespread adoption of nuclear power.

There are many web pages, so please scroll down.

1. Electricity Introduction
2. Ontario Electricity System
3. Electricity System Expansion
4. Displacement of Fossil Fuels
5. Electricity Regulatory Bodies
6. Conference Short Presentation (20 minute)
7. Conference Short Presentation Slides
1. Electricity Generation
2. Electricity Generation Constraints
3. Environmental Considerations
4. Distributed Electricity Generation
5. Wind Energy
6. Equipment Financing
7. OPA Feed-in Tariff
8. Generation Valuation, Grid Stability and Black Start
1. Energy Storage
2. Seasonal Hydraulic Energy Storage
3. Liquid Metal Electro-Chemical Energy Storage
4. Electrolytic Hydrogen
5. Synthetic Liquid Fuel
6. Nitrogen Fertilizers
1. Electricity Transmission
2. Electricity Transmission Black Start
3. Energy Transmission Planning
4. Distribution and Distributed Generation
5. Pipeline Basics
6. Pipeline Corrosion
7. Letter To Premier Wynne
8. Electrically Accelerated Pipeline Corrosion
9. Natural Gas Pipeline Safety Setback
1. Electricity Services
2. Electricity Rate Issues
3. Historical Electricity Rates and Introduction of Smart Meters
4. Existing Electricity Rate Problems
5. Retail Electricity Rate Proposal
6. Interruptible Electricity Service (IES) Implementation
7. Variable Electricity Rate
8. Transmission/Distribution Cost Apportioning
9. Capacity Factor
10. Electricity Regulatory Hurdles
11. Electricity Market Problems
12. Electricity Rate Mitigation Letter
13. Interruptible Electricity Ripoff
14. InterruptibleElectricity.com
1. Electricity Metering
2. Electricity Power Transducer
3. Electricity-Three Phase Metering
4. Electricity Meter Program
1. Smart Grid
2. OPA Integrated Power System Plan (IPSP)
3. Energy Vision
4. Letter to Ontario Minister of Environment
and Climate Change
5. Letter to Mininster of Environment
and Climate Change, Canada
6. U of T 17-02-09 Slide Presentation
7. U of T Presentation
8. Energy Policy

This web page last updated May 7, 2019.

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