Tag Archives: hydro

smarter meter

I just signed up for Toronto Hydro‘s Time-of-Use (TOU) Metering programme. While it was mentioned in this month’s PowerWISE (hey, am I the only one who reads the info inserts that comes with their bill?), it doesn’t seem to have been officially launched.  On first look, it’s fairly nifty (click the image for a full-sized view):
daily TOU breakdown hourly
Since I’m a Bullfrog customer, I don’t think I get charged TOU rates (hey, it’d be nice; actually, if coupled to current capacity, I’d make hay while the sun shines/wind blows/water flows …) but at least I get to see the data. I wonder if the front end is scriptable? I’d love to be able to track my usage day by day.

(And to think, yesterday I was on the cusp of buying a Black & Decker Power Monitor. If it had ethernet/wireless/bluetooth, I’d have been on it like an X on a Thing That X Likes. It looks a bit complex to install.)

goodbye, stamps

Bullfrog Power are going to stop issuing their own bills, and go through the local utility. Though I understand it is a bunch cheaper to get Toronto Hydro to do it, I’ll miss getting my bills with a stamp affixed.

Hmm, now that I have a smart meter, does that mean I can access the metering information? Bullfrog doesn’t do time-of-use (yet), but the stats would delight this nerd.

barefoot hydrodynamics

Ever since I discovered them, I have been fascinated by the Foxfire books. Not that I’m planning to go back to the land or anything, just they they often display flashes of ingenuity and craftsmanship.

Take this, for example:

tub wheel - from foxfire 2

It’s clearly a turbine runner, but it’s made from a slab of solid pine, pinned together then held in compression by steel bands around the rim.

sam burton chisels out a tub wheel bucket

It was made by Georgia craftsman Sam Burton, and is documented in Foxfire 2 (Wigginton et al, 1973, pub. Anchor Books, ISBN 0-385-02267-0, pp. 142-163).

Energy Saving Tips for Canadians, #1: a name thing

Canadians are remarkably profligate in their energy use, and I think I know why. It’s not to do with the oft-cited scale of the country, the size of our houses, our cold winters or our hot summers, it’s something simpler than that; it’s what we call our electricity.

Power here is generally known as hydro, and with it comes images of tree-lined rivers with bears happily fishing for salmon. Local electricity companies tend to have that watery thing in their name: Toronto Hydro, Hamilton Hydro, London Hydro (Crieff Hydro is something quite different, though). Some happy green images, eh?

I propose that we stop using the term hydro, and replace it with the snappier smog belching, nuke leaking, only fractionally hydro. It’d certainly make yer average Kathy or Doug drop their double-double (or donut, or dumaurier) when they got their smog belching, nuke leaking, only fractionally hydro bill in. Energy use would plummet, and at no cost to anyone!

Debunking the 25% Myth

My dad called yesterday, asking, “Wind turbines do run for more than 25% of the time, don’t they?”. Seems he read an opinion piece in his favourite fair ‘n’ balanced rag (The Telegraph) that said that wind turbines only run 25% of the time.

I see this factoid popping up more and more from the anti-wind crowd. It’s a particularly difficult one to refute in the press, as by the time you’ve tried to explain the difference between capacity factor and operation time, you’ve lost them. Or gone over your allotted time/word count, at least.

I’ve got a year’s production data from WindShare/Toronto Hydro‘s turbine in front of me. It’s on a marginal site, one that probably wouldn’t be developed by a commercial entity. So, does it run for more than 25% of the time?

Yes; the turbine is generating 63% of the time. I’ve defined generating as providing a net export of power to the grid. Our turbine’s a bit more cranky than most, and I have a suspicion that our metering system is dropping some production, but even so, 63% is way more than the claimed 25%. So it gives me great pleasure to say:

MYTH: Wind turbines only run for 25% of the time.
BUSTED! Wind turbines run at the very least 60% of the time, usually more.

(I can’t guarantee that Country Guardian won’t quote me out of context. I could make a cheap shot about not blaming them for their paymasters in the nuclear industry requiring value for money, but I won’t …)

Bullfrog Power

Bullfrog Power are all over the news today. Green power for consumers in Ontario.

I could have done with more wind in the mix (they’re 80% hydro, 20% wind) but it’s better than Pickering, Darlington, and all that nonsense.