May 20, 2010: E2tech forum with Michael Stoddard; Ontario offshore power

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Today, a quick note from the Gilsland Farm property of Maine Audubon in Falmouth, Maine. This morning, Preti Flaherty's Climate Strategies Group sponsored an E2Tech forum on energy efficiency, with Efficiency Maine Trust executive director Michael Stoddard as the special guest. Michael gave a good presentation to a full-house audience on Maine's comprehensive energy efficiency efforts, and on his role as executive director in making that happen.

Thanks to E2Tech for throwing another fine event. It was a great opportunity to learn from Michael about state efficiency policy and programs, while meeting up with clients, friends, and interesting new people.

I'm looking forward to the next E2Tech event, a forum on ocean energy development and policy, to be held June 24 in Falmouth. Here's a link to the registration page.

My fellow LinkedIn Energy & Utilities Network member John de Vellis tipped me off to an interesting offshore wind generation project in Ontario, Canada. Last month, Windstream Wolfe Island Shoals Inc. was awarded a contract by the Ontario Power Authority to buy the output of Windstream's 300-megawatt project off-shore in Lake Ontario. Reports suggest the project will cover about 48,000 acres, generally in water between 10 and 20 feet deep.

This project is a bit farther along than Cape Wind. Recall that Cape Wind has struck a deal with the local utility, but that Massachusetts regulators at the DPU still get to review and approve (or deny) the proposal. In Ontario, the Ontario Power Authority has already performed that review, and -- under a different regulatory structure, namely a feed-in tariff program -- approved the contract at 18.5 cents per kWh.

While Ontario's 18.5 cents/kWh is lower than the Cape Wind proposal of 20.7 cents/kWh, what might be even more interesting is the difference between these contract prices and the market price for basic electricity. Ontario's market price is 3.44 cents per kWh. (American readers, how would you like to pay just 3.44 cents/kWh!) We can argue about whether 3.44 cents is "too low" to include environmental costs, but in the end, the Ontario offshore wind will cost over 5x (five times) what basic electricity costs in Ontario. Cape Wind is closer to 2.5x the local cost per kWh.

Has anyone seen an analysis of the increased adoption of renewables and renewable portfolio standards, and its impact on prices? What really is driving price increases, in your views?

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