/Electricity prices should level off IESO rep says

Electricity prices should level off IESO rep says

By Chad Ingram

Published Oct. 20 2016

The cost of electricity for Ontariansshould level off in coming years says a representative from the province'sIndependent Electricity System Operator (IESO).

Chuck Farmer director of stakeholderrelations and public affairs for the IESO visited Minden Hills councillorsduring their Oct. 13 committee-of-the-whole meeting.

While consumer electricity prices inOntario have about doubled in the past decade according to Farmer this hasbeen due to the increasing cost to the province of producing electricity.

Between 2006 and 2015 he said the totalcost of electricity service in Ontario grew from $15.5 billion to $20.5billion.

“Most of that increase is the result ofbuilding generation infrastructure” Farmer said. He said the elimination ofcoal-fired power plants which the provincial government completed in 2014contributed to the need for the construction of more power generationinfrastructure.

“We do expect the cost increases tomoderate” Farmer said indicating this should be the case during the next 20or so years. “We're expecting costs to be relatively flat adjusted forinflation.”

Reeve Brent Devolin pointed to theprovince's recent announcement it would cancel some $3.8 billion worth ofrenewable energy projects in order to save Ontarians an average of $2.45 offtheir monthly electricity bills.

“Is cancellation saying in terms ofcapacity . . . we have what we need to meet capacity?” asked Devolin who sitson the Parry Sound/Muskoka advisory committee to the IESO.

“That doesn't mean there won't be a need todo more renewable energy” Farmer said adding that the province should haveadequate capacity for at least the next six to eight years.

Councillor Pam Sayne told Farmer she wasconcerned the province's feed-in tariff (FIT) program seemed to benefit certaincompanies.

She asked Farmer if the IESO was trackingthe number of Ontarians who are choosing to get off the grid all togetherpowering their own homes with self-sufficient setups.

“I wonder if that's something that's beingmeasured by the IESO people who want off the grid completely” Sayne said. “Wehave people who are weighing between paying their electricity bills andheating and winter's coming up again.”

Farmer said the IESO is conductingmicro-grid pilot projects with a number of municipalities.

“As far as grid defection itself we seethis trend coming” he said. “This is a very significant issue for the provinceto deal with.”

Chief administrative officer LorrieBlanchard wanted to know what happened to the infrastructure of FIT projectswhen their life spans were up. Contracts are typically for 20-year periods.

“Is the IESO considering what might be donewith this equipment at the end of the day?” Blanchard asked.

“Generally all generation contracts put arequirement on the owner of the facility to decommission” Farmer said. “Soeverybody is accountable for what they do. At the end of 20 years they maystill be a useful facility it just doesn't have a contract.”

Devolin who's said repeatedly thatmunicipalities should reap some benefit of FIT projects within their borderssaid it would be unfair for the facilitation of that decommissioning process tofall to townships.

“The benefits do not accrue to us so thecosts should not accrue to us” he said.