Ontario Government Introduces Fair And Stable Prices For Electricity From Ontario Power Generation

Archived Release

Ontario Government Introduces Fair And Stable Prices For Electricity From Ontario Power Generation

Ministry of Energy

New Facilitator To Explore Co-generation Opportunities QUEEN'S PARK, ON, Feb. 23 - The Ontario government is delivering on its plan for responsible electricity pricing by introducing fair and stable prices for electricity provided by Ontario Power Generation (OPG). "For too long, taxpayer subsidies have kept electricity prices unsustainably low," Minister of Energy Dwight Duncan said. "We are easing the burden on taxpayers, while ensuring electricity prices for consumers are stable and competitive with nearby jurisdictions." Through the Electricity Restructuring Act, 2004, the government is setting an average price of 4.5 cents per kilowatt-hour on the output of OPG's regulated assets. The new prices will take effect on April 1 and stay in place until the Ontario Energy Board sets new prices, no later than March 31, 2008. "Regulating the price of OPG's nuclear and large hydroelectric assets will reduce price volatility and have a stabilizing effect on electricity prices, which will be of great benefit to Ontario's power consumers," Duncan said. The government is also setting a new revenue limit of 4.7 cents per kilowatt-hour on most of the output from OPG's unregulated assets. The revenue limit will act as a transitional measure from April 1, 2005 to April 30, 2006, and replaces the Market Power Mitigation Agreement (MPMA) implemented by the previous government. The new prices will affect only the power generated from Ontario Power Generation (OPG), which generates approximately 73 per cent of the total electricity in the province from its regulated and unregulated assets. The company's regulated assets include large hydroelectric and nuclear plants representing approximately 40 per cent of all power generation in Ontario. Unregulated assets owned by OPG include smaller hydroelectric plants and coal and gas-fired power stations, which produce approximately 33 per cent of Ontario's electricity. The new pricing will affect approximately 55,000 large industrial and commercial electricity customers across Ontario who use more than 250,000 kilowatt-hours per year. Residential, small business and designated consumers will not experience any changes in the prices they pay until the Ontario Energy Board (OEB) establishes its regulated price plan which will take effect no later than May 1, 2005. In a joint statement, Scott Hand, President and CEO of Inco Ltd. and Don Pether, President and CEO of Dofasco Inc. said, "Although industry is concerned about recent increases in the total costs of electricity in the province, we appreciate the approach the McGuinty government has taken in setting the prices for electricity in today's announcement. Their approach respects the needs of the various stakeholders in the face of some difficult challenges, including paying off the stranded debt. They have been considerate of the need for competitive electricity costs to support the sustainability of manufacturing in Ontario - a need that should be at the forefront of future decisions on electricity." The Ontario government also announced its intention to appoint a facilitator to work with industrial companies to explore co-generation opportunities in the province. "Co-generation can significantly reduce costs for large industrial users and result in tremendous operational efficiencies, while at the same time help Ontario meet our supply needs," said Duncan. "The appointment of an Industrial Co-generation Facilitator is yet another example of our government's commitment to deal with electricity issues in a practical, sensible and responsible way." Backgrounder ------------------------------------------------------------------------- February 23, 2005 ONTARIO GOVERNMENT ANNOUNCES PRICES ON ELECTRICITY FROM ONTARIO POWER GENERATION The Ontario government has established prices for electricity produced by Ontario Power Generation (OPG) effective April 1, 2005. These prices are designed to: - Better reflect the true cost of producing electricity - Ensure a reliable, sustainable and diverse supply of power in Ontario - Protect Ontario's medium and large businesses by ensuring rates are stable and competitive - Provide an incentive for OPG to contain costs and to maximize efficiencies - Allow OPG to better service its debt while earning a rate of return that balances the needs of customers and ensures a fair return for taxpayers - Relieve taxpayers of the burden of a financially unsustainable rebate program. Prices on Output of OPG's Regulated Assets ------------------------------------------ - Under Bill 100, the Electricity Restructuring Act, the government is obliged to set a price for the output of OPG's regulated assets. These assets include the Adam Beck and Decew hydro stations at Niagara, the R.H. Saunders hydro station near Cornwall, and the Pickering and Darlington nuclear stations. These assets provide much of the province's baseload generation, and operate on a nearly constant basis to provide Ontario's homes and businesses with power. - Regulating the price of OPG's baseload nuclear and hydroelectric assets will reduce price volatility and have a stabilizing effect on electricity prices, which will be of benefit to all consumers. - Ontario Power Generation's regulated assets represent approximately 60 per cent of OPG's annual output, and approximately 40 per cent of the total generation in Ontario. - Under the regulation announced today, OPG's baseload hydroelectric generation will be set at 3.3 cents per kilowatt hour, and the price for OPG's nuclear generation will be set at 4.95 cents per kilowatt hour. An average price of 4.5 cents per kilowatt hour is projected for the weighted forecast output for the hydroelectric and nuclear generation combined. - The prices on OPG's regulated assets are based on projected costs of operation, plus a five per cent return on equity (ROE). While the standard ROE for North American utilities is ten per cent, a five per cent ROE will generate revenue to service the OPG debt held by the Ontario Electricity Financial Corporation, while putting significant discipline on OPG to contain costs and improve overall operating efficiencies. - The new prices will stay in effect until the Ontario Energy Board (OEB) develops mechanisms for setting prices for OPG's regulated assets as stipulated in the Electricity Restructuring Act, 2004, no later than March 31, 2008. Transferring the authority to the OEB to set prices for electricity generated from OPG is consistent with the government's commitment to ensure politics are taken out of electricity pricing in the province. Prices on Output of OPG's Unregulated Assets -------------------------------------------- - As a result of a ministerial directive, OPG's revenues on most of the output of its unregulated assets (non-baseload hydroelectric, coal and gas-fired stations), which represents approximately 33 per cent of all generation in Ontario, will be temporarily set at an upper limit of 4.7 cents per kilowatt hour. Ontario Power Generation will pay a rebate on revenues over this amount. - This revenue limit will temporarily be in place from April 1, 2005 to April 30, 2006. It replaces the Market Power Mitigation Agreement (MPMA) implemented by the previous government when it attempted to open Ontario's electricity market in May 2002. - The revenue limit on OPG's unregulated assets is designed to ensure continued pressure on OPG to contain costs and enhance performance, while acting as a transitional measure to protect consumers as they adjust to the new prices. It is also designed to ensure that OPG has the incentive to respond to market signals and limit OPG's market power. - The recent Request for Proposals (RFP) which will result in almost 400 megawatts of new renewable energy supply, together with the current RFP for 2,500 megawatts of new clean energy supply, demand response and energy conservation initiatives, both clearly demonstrate that the McGuinty government is taking decisive steps to close the looming gap between electricity supply and demand in the province. Effect on Consumers ------------------- - The new pricing takes effect on April 1, 2005, and will have an immediate impact on the approximately 55,000 large industrial and commercial electricity customers across Ontario who use more than 250,000 kilowatt hours per year. - To provide some recent historical comparisons on the likely price impacts, commodity prices that large consumers will pay starting April 1 are expected to be 1.5 per cent higher than the prices which prevailed in 2002/2003, the first year of market opening. The prices will be about 5 per cent higher than 2003 prices, and between 8 to 12 per cent higher than the unusually soft prices in 2004 (in part, the result of extremely moderate weather in both the summer and winter peak demand periods). - It is important to look at today's announcement in the broader context of price trends over a number of years, rather than just looking at comparisons to any one specific period where, for example, unusual weather patterns could be a key driver in setting overall price levels. - It is also important to look at today's announcement in the context of commodity price increases that have also recently taken place or have been announced in key U.S. jurisdictions, as well as in Quebec and Manitoba, two of the lowest cost electricity jurisdictions in North America. By April 1, 2005, for example, it is forecast that Quebec (which relies almost exclusively on hydroelectric power) prices for all classes of customers will have increased by about 7 per cent over the period 2004/2005. In addition, on August 1, 2004, Manitoba (another major hydroelectric jurisdiction) introduced new general rates which represented an average increase of 5 per cent for all customer classes. - Even with the removal of the MPMA, electricity costs for large industrial and commercial users in Ontario will continue to match neighbours with whom we compete such as Michigan and Illinois, and in fact will be lower than such jurisdictions as New York, Massachusetts and Pennsylvania. - In order to help large customers cope with the realities of increasing electricity prices, while adding needed new electricity supply to Ontario, the McGuinty government has also announced that it is appointing an industrial co-generation facilitator to actively encourage industrial cogeneration projects in the province (see accompanying backgrounder). Co-generation opportunities can significantly reduce electricity costs for large industrial users, resulting in enhanced operational efficiencies and improved overall competitiveness. - While residential, small business and designated consumers will not be affected immediately the Ontario Energy Board's new regulated price plan (RPP) will take effect no later than May 1, 2005. The board will blend the various prices paid to generators into a fixed price that consumers will pay under the RPP. That price will be stable but still reflect the true cost of producing electricity. History of the Market Power Mitigation Agreement ------------------------------------------------ - The MPMA was put in place by the previous government when it tried to open Ontario's electricity market in May 2002, in order to prevent OPG from exploiting its dominant position as the majority supplier of Ontario's electricity. The MPMA structure was intended to be a temporary measure consistent with the previous government's policy of selling OPG's generation assets. - Since its inception, the MPMA has cost OPG approximately $100 million per month and approximately $3.3 billion in total. As a result, OPG has suffered poor financial performance over the last three years, and the government and taxpayers have not been able to realize any financial benefit from OPG. - Under the MPMA, all customers who use more than 250,000 kilowatt hours per year receive a rebate if the annual average Ontario electricity price exceeds 3.8 cents per kilowatt hour. This rebate applies to half of the electricity they consume. - Due to the MPMA, electricity prices for consumers have been effectively subsidized by taxpayers, and OPG has not been able to recover the cost of generating the electricity it produces. This has severely compromised the company's ability to improve its overall financial performance. Backgrounder ------------------------------------------------------------------------- February 23, 2005 McGUINTY GOVERNMENT TO FACILITATE ELECTRICITY CO-GENERATION OPPORTUNITIES FOR ONTARIO INDUSTRY The McGuinty government has announced its intention to appoint an industrial co-generation facilitator to work with industrial companies to explore co-generation opportunities in the province. Co-generation opportunities can significantly reduce electricity costs for large industrial users, resulting in enhanced operational efficiencies and improved overall competitiveness. What is co-generation? Thermal generation of electricity produces both electricity and steam and/or heat. Co-generation uses the steam and/or heat for industrial processes or for heating or cooling in district energy systems. What are some of the advantages of co-generation? Aside from bringing new electricity supply to the province, co-generation opportunities can provide a variety of benefits to industry and the province as a whole, including: - Higher combined fuel efficiency - Shorter lead-times for approval and construction - Reduced transmission congestion and investment requirements - Increased operational efficiencies for large companies with high energy requirements in industries such as pulp and paper, chemicals and chemical products, base metals and steel. What will be the mandate of the Industrial Co-generation Facilitator? The mandate of the facilitator will be to work with industrial companies to propose specific, case-by-case arrangements to the government to spur the development of co-generation projects, and overcome existing barriers. The facilitator will work with interested companies to address issues such as energy contracts, capacity contracts, steam host guarantees, access to economic or regional development assistance and regulatory approvals. Disponible en fran├žais www.energy.gov.on.caFor further information: Contacts: Angie Robson, Minister's Office, (416) 327-6747; Ted Gruetzner, Communications Branch, (416) 327-4334