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

Electricity is electromagnetic field energy that flows in close proximity to guiding conductors. The energy flow rate is a large fraction of the speed of light.

Due to climate change constraints on use of fossil fuels electricity should now be used for almost all transmission and distribution of energy.

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

This website section includes synthetic hydrocarbon synthesis and hydrocarbon transport via pipelines.

In order for non-fossil electricity to displace fossil fuels there must be a retail electricity rate that will enable increasing the average power delivered to electricity customers via the existing transmission-distribution system and the cost of marginal electrical energy during off peak periods must be sufficiently low to enable fossil fuel displacement.

The retail electricity rate and metering must allow both "non-interruptible" and "interruptible" electricity usage by all electricity customers.

"Non-interruptible" electricity is highly reliable electric power that is instantly available at any time on user demand. "Non-interruptible" electricity is intended for applications where continuous electricity availability and reliability are more important than the electricity cost. In Ontario most consumers are supplied "non-interruptible" electricity.

"Discount" electricity is lower cost 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 unreliable non-fossil electrical energy that is surplus to the immediate "non-interruptible" and "discount" electricity supply requirements. "Interruptible" electricity is primarily intended for displacement of fossil fuels in hydrogen generation and hybrid heating systems. In Ontario there is usually "interruptible" electricity available at night when fossil fueled electricity generation is shut down.

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 low cost renewable energy when it is available. That failure is presently costing the people of Ontario over one billion dollars per year in combined lost electricity revenue and excess fossil fuel costs and is causing major unnecessary emission of fossil CO2.

To meet electricity system total revenue requirements the blended price of "non-interruptible" electricity must be much higher than the price of "interruptible" electricity. To prevent gaming of the electricity system the marginal cost / kWh must be the same for both "non-interruptible" 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.

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

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

The price per measured monthly peak kW or peak kVA must be set sufficiently high (~ $70.00 / kW) 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 uncontrolled electricity cost of an average consumer is unaffected by the rate change.

The 90% step response time of the kW or kVA metering should be chosen as 4.2 hours to reasonably reflect demand diversity and hence the actual cost of meeting the provincial load with peaking generation.

Implementation of this new electricity rate 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.

This rate concept is not new. During the early 1990s similar electricity rates were provided by Toronto 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 wastes large amounts of non-fossil generation capacity and has one of the highest retail electricity rates in North America.

In recent years multiple tens of billions of dollars of Ontario ratepayers money have been squandered on natural gas, wind and solar electricity generation which, absent sufficient energy storage, are incapable of reliably meeting the non-fossil power needs of Ontario. More billions of dollars are currently being squandered by both federal and provincial governments through failure to authorize construction of additional nuclear reactor capacity to displace fossil fuels in the transportation and space heating sectors and through failure to adopt a much more efficient and less polluting nuclear fuel cycle.

A related challenge is that efficient use of surplus non-fossil electricity to displace natural gas causes the delivered 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 natural gas industry has lobbied against electricity rates that enable use of surplus non-fossil electricity for displacement of natural gas.

In this author's view the only practical solution to this increasing natural gas price problem is to use legislation to prevent further expanison of the natural gas distribution network. All new buildings, new vehicles and major energy retrofits must function without use of fossil fuels. Even so it will take many years to fully amortize the existing natural gas distribution network.

The fossil fuel industry rightly regards nuclear energy production as an existential threat and, in spite of the CO2 emission consequences, has attempted to prevent 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
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
1. Energy Storage
2. Seasonal Hydraulic Energy Storage
3. Na-S-NiCl2 Energy Storage
4. Electrolytic Hydrogen
5. Synthetic Liquid Fuel
6. Nitrogen Fertilizers
1. Electricity Transmission
2. Energy Transmission Planning
3. Distribution and Distributed Generation
4. Pipeline Basics
5. Pipeline Corrosion
6. Letter To Premier Wynne
7. Electrically Accelerated Pipeline Corrosion
8. 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. Interruptible Electricity Service (IES) Implementation
6. Variable Electricity Rate
7. Transmission/Distribution Cost Apportioning
8. Capacity Factor
9. Electricity Regulatory Hurdles
10. Electricity Market Problems
11. Electricity Rate Mitigation Letter
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 August 23, 2017.

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