Making Sense of Energy

Energy Market Update: October 2017


TransCanada doubles down on oil and gas infrastructure after selling solar assets for $540M

Calgary-based pipeline giant TransCanada sold its solar power portfolio to a subsidiary of Montreal’s Axium Infrastructure Inc. for $540 million, capturing a price appreciation of $83 million in around three years. The portfolio includes eight facilities that generate a total of 76 megawatts of renewable power, a sector which analysts say wasn’t a strategic fit for TransCanada, which bought the assets from Guelph-based Canadian Solar Inc. for $457 million through a series of transactions, the last of which was carried out in 2014.

Source: National Post

Electricity Prices for Alberta

The Alberta power pool price averaged 2.045 cents per kWh in October 2017. This price is 0.166 cents lower than last month’s average of 2.211 cents per kWh. The pool price has averaged 2.163 cents per kWh over the last 12 months.

As of October 3, 2017, the forward market was predicting electricity prices for the calendar years of 2017, 2018, 2019 and 2020. These prices are 2.900, 4.450, 4.600, and 4.525 cents per kWh respectively.

Gas Prices for Alberta

Direct Energy’s gas rate for October 2017 was $1.682 per GJ in Alberta. The November 2017 rate has been set at $1.825 per GJ. Alberta gas prices have averaged $2.240 per GJ over the last 12 months.

As of October 2, 2017, the forward market was predicting gas prices for the calendar years of 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020, 2021, and 2022. These prices are 2.29, 2.26, 2.31, 2.41, 2.48, and 2.52 cents per GJ respectively.


British Columbia  

Is B.C. ready for the coming electric vehicle revolution?

While electric vehicles are becoming increasingly popular in urban centres like Vancouver and Victoria, much of rural B.C. still has concerns. Michelle Mungall, provincial energy minister and MLA for Nelson-Creston, says electric vehicles will be an important part of reducing B.C.’s carbon emissions. But she says her constituents have concerns about the adoption of new technology when their cars are such essential lifelines. Andrew Weaver, leader of the B.C. Green party and owner of an electric vehicle himself, said one of the main reasons charging infrastructure isn’t more widespread is because of unnecessary regulatory barriers. He noted, for example, that a company must be registered as a utility before it can charge a customer for use of charging station. While B.C. already has a number of incentives in place — including a $40 million commitment to increasing electric vehicle adoption in the NDP government’s recent budget update — Weaver said it’s still not enough. Source: CBC News


Reevely: Hiding billions in hydro debt ‘unacceptable,’ Ontario’s auditor general says

Hiding billions of dollars the Ontario government is borrowing to lower electricity bills for a few years will cost hydro users an extra $4 billion. Earlier this year, Premier Kathleen Wynne gave up defending the increases in the price of electricity since the Liberals took over in 2003. She and her cabinet put together a plan to cut bills that amounted to paying today’s costs with borrowed money and repaying it with interest later. It has already cut residential bills by an average of 25 per cent, beginning last summer. And it will increase them by a combined total of $21 billion over time, when all that interest has to be paid, according to a previous report by Ontario’s financial accountability officer. Source: Ottawa Citizen

Electricity Prices for Ontario

The Hourly Ontario Energy Price (HOEP) was an average of 0.795 cents per kWh in October 2017. This price is 1.24 cents lower than last month’s 2.035 cents per kWh. The weighted-average price was 0.875 cents per kWh during October 2017. The twelve month moving average was 1.572 cents per kWh up to October 2017. The Actual Rate for the Global Adjustment Rate Class B for October 2017 was set at 12.563 cents per kWh. The Global Adjustment is an additional charge paid by non-regulated customers. (Source: IESO)



Regina co-op hopes to make solar power more accessible to customers

Stephen Hall began exploring solar power as a way of securing the environment for his daughters’ future. Then he found the economic benefit. Solar power was an expensive investment off the hop — the 30 panels on his roof cost $28,000 and required borrowing from a line of credit, although SaskPower provided a $5,000 rebate. However, Hall’s monthly power bill has been reduced to $170 a month (which includes the cost of paying down the loan), compared with $185 before. The system on his roof generates 7.65 kilowatts of electricity. Any excess generation goes back into the general electrical grid for use by other customers. The solar panel owner gets a power bill credit through SaskPower’s net metering program. SaskPower’s goal is to have 50-per-cent renewable energy sources by 2030.  Source: Regina Leader-Post



Manitoba Unveils Climate and Green Plan

The plan sets out a made-in-Manitoba approach to carbon pricing with a low and level price of $25 per tonne beginning during 2018. This is half the amount mandated by the federal government and it will give Manitoba the second-lowest carbon price in Canada by 2022. Beginning during 2018, the made-in-Manitoba price will save families and businesses over $260 million compared to the federal carbon tax over the next five years. An average Manitoba household will save $245 compared to the federal carbon tax over the same period. Source: Manitoba News Releases


New Brunswick  

3 municipalities see future in building wind farms together

$60-million projects would install wind turbines in isolated areas of Charlotte and Carleton counties. Three communities with their own utilities are joining forces on a proposal to generate more wind energy in New Brunswick. Saint John Energy and smaller utilities in Edmundston, and Perth-Andover have submitted joint proposals to develop two wind energy projects, the Charlotte County Community Wind Farm, near South Oromocto Lake, and Chapman Community Wind Farm in Chapmanville in Carleton County. Each of the proposed projects would generate enough electricity to power 6,400 households, said Dan Dionne, chief administrative officer for the Village of Perth-Andover. If they get approval, the partners hope the projects will be operational by the end of 2020. Source: CBC News


Prince Edward Island  

Carbon pricing systems need to be good, not perfect, economist advises

When considering carbon pricing systems, governments in Atlantic Canada shouldn’t fuss too much about the details to start with, says a McGill economics professor. Chris Ragan was speaking at a panel discussion sponsored by the Atlantic Provinces Economic Council. Ragan discussed several options for reducing carbon emissions in the region. He preferred carbon pricing to regulation. Ragan said policy makers should not worry about trying to launch a perfect system. He advised getting a system in place, and then modifying it as information about how well it is working comes together. Source: CBC News



Zero waste festival wants more Montrealers to embrace sustainable living

Zero waste is a movement which seeks to reduce how many things end up in the landfill. Primarily, it aims to reduce the use of packaging and encourages recycling and composting. Zero Waste Festival featured about 50 exhibitors and numerous workshops — including growing sprouts, making deodorant, toothpaste, soaps and more. Festival co-founder, Florence-Léa Siry, said that despite what some people think, the Zero Waste movement doesn’t expect everyone to be an extremist in their habits. Siry says that it’s important for individuals to work towards waste reduction in their lives so that companies and stores will follow. Source: CBC News


Newfoundland and Labrador  

New energy-saving program could make Muskrat Falls power more expensive: analyst

A new energy-efficiency program is designed to help people save money, but an industry consultant is warning that it could make the problem of high power rates even worse. Tom Adams says when Muskrat Falls comes online, new conservation measures could make sky-high power rates even higher. That’s because even though the province is only expected to use about 30 per cent of the power from Muskrat Falls, ratepayers have to pay 100 per cent of the cost; right now, that cost is expected to be more than $700 million a year. If overall consumption drops because people find ways to save energy, that will cause the price for electricity to rise so Nalcor can still recoup its costs. Right now, the overall price of power is expected to be 23.3 cents per kilowatt hour in 2022.  Source: CBC News


 Nova Scotia  

Nova Scotia watersheds recovering from decades of acid rain

Lakes damaged by acid rain are coming back to life in Nova Scotia faster than anyone expected — and the recovery has added expenses for Halifax Water. As acid levels in the lakes drop, there’s an increase in the number of organisms, like algae, that are in the water. That means more chemicals are needed to remove organic matter from lake reservoirs to make the water safe to drink. The cost of the chemicals is escalating by $400,000 yearly, according to Halifax Water. Source: CBC News



Nunavut power utility takes another crack at controversial one-rate system

After trying and failing to gain approval for the idea twice since 2004, the Qulliq Energy Corp. will once again pursue a one-rate system for all Nunavut communities. Right now, the QEC, in a system inherited from the Northwest Territories, uses a different rate system for each Nunavut community, based on each community’s unique operating costs. That means Nunavut’s high-cost small communities pay the highest power rates, while the largest communities pay the lowest rates. In 2004, the QEC proposed to change that with a system in which each class of customer in each community would pay the same rates. But the proposal fizzled, following furious opposition from businesses and homeowners in Iqaluit and other large communities. Source: Nunatsiaq Online


Northwest Territories  

Customers getting credits after Northland Utilities makes too much money

People in Yellowknife might be pleasantly surprised when they open their next power bill. The Public Utilities Board, which sets power rates in the Northwest Territories, has found Northland Utilities made 30 per cent more profit than it was supposed to on its Yellowknife business in 2016. During a review of Northland Utilities’ financial statements earlier this year, the board noticed the company made $842,000 more than estimated on its last general rate application. Northland has offered to refund the money. Customers will notice a 1.8 per cent reduction on their electricity bills. Source: CBC News



Kluane Lake wind project to go ahead, with investment from Ottawa

The Kluane First Nation has received the final $1 million it needs to fund a project to build three wind turbines near Kluane Lake. The latest investment comes through the Department of Indigenous and Northern Affairs’s Northern REACHE program, which funds renewable energy projects in off-grid northern communities. The federal funds, combined with a separate $1 million from the Yukon Government, complete the budget needed to build the Kluane N’Tsi (Wind) Energy Project. Source: CBC News