Making Sense of Energy

Energy Market Update: July 2020


Hydrogen-injected natural gas to heat homes in Alberta city next year

Homes in Fort Saskatchewan, Alta., are to be warmed with natural gas blended with hydrogen beginning next year, a “first step” amid efforts to diversify the province’s energy sector and potentially reduce carbon emissions. Canadian Utilities said Tuesday about 5,000 customers will start using the blended gas, which will include up to five per cent hydrogen, after construction wraps up in the summer of 2021. ATCO hopes the $5.7-million pilot project will provide a “roadmap” for future greenhouse gas emissions reductions in Alberta. It will be the country’s largest hydrogen-blending project, the Calgary-based company said. However, the climate benefit of hydrogen is highly dependent on how it is made, the Pembina Institute says. “Hydrogen created with renewable energy or natural gas with carbon capture and storage can play a key role in decarbonizing Alberta’s energy systems,” Simon Dyer, Pembina’s deputy executive director, said in a statement. “However, only a small fraction of today’s hydrogen is low carbon. Blending low-carbon hydrogen with fossil fuels can deliver incremental reductions in carbon intensity.” Dyer said he is looking forward to learning more about ATCO’s plans and the projected carbon intensity of the hydrogen. Source: CBC News

Source: CBC News

Electricity Prices for Alberta

The Alberta power pool price averaged 5.414 cents per kWh in July 2020. This price is 1.963 cents higher than last month’s average of 3.451 cents per kWh. The pool price has averaged 4.868 cents per kWh over the last 12 months.

As of July 31, 2020, the forward market was predicting electricity prices for the calendar years of 2020, 2021, 2022, 2023 and 2024. These prices are 5.000, 5.100, 5.300, 5.100, and 5.000 cents per kWh respectively.

Gas Prices for Alberta

Direct Energy’s gas rate for July 2020 was $1.530 per GJ in Alberta. The August 2020 rate has been set at $1.359 per GJ. Alberta gas prices have averaged $2.030 per GJ over the last 12 months.

As of August 4, 2020, the forward market was predicting gas prices for the calendar years of 2020, 2021, 2022, 2023, 2024, and 2025. These prices are 2.41, 2.54, 2.42, 2.29, 2.36, and 2.48 cents per GJ respectively.


British Columbia

Site C budget, schedule facing ‘serious concerns’ due to COVID-19, BC Hydro reports

BC Hydro reported Friday it has “serious concerns” about the Site C dam project due to the impact of COVID-19 and other challenges. On March 18, BC Hydro announced it was cutting some work on the project in response to provincial measures to manage COVID-19 transmission. The workforce staying at the dam site in northern B.C. has been scaled back by about 50 per cent to work related only to essential services like safety and security, and river diversion, O’Riley said. On May 14, BC Hydro announced it would begin “safely” and gradually increasing construction at the dam site. Prior to the pandemic, O’Riley said the $10-billion project remained on schedule for the first generating unit to begin service in late 2023 with a final in-service date of 2024. That date is now up in the air, he said, because work had to be halted during the beginning of the pandemic. Source: CBC News



Home electricity use up as overall consumption drops during pandemic

hanging pendant lampsHome electricity use is up in Ontario and Quebec since the start of the pandemic even as overall consumption rates have gone down, according to hydro utilities in the two provinces. According to Hydro-Québec, the province’s residential electricity consumption between March and July 2020 was 4.27 per cent higher than during the same time last year. In Ontario, meanwhile, the Independent Electricity System Operator said consumption increased by 15 per cent. Despite the overall provincial increases, certain regions reported differences in residential usage: Hydro Ottawa, for example, said via email that residential electricity consumption in Canada’s capital increased by approximately four per cent. In contrast, residents of Quebec’s Outaouais region increased their consumption by seven per cent. The numbers are not surprising for University of Ottawa economics professor Jean-Thomas Bernard, who pointed out that the region’s largest industry is government services. “We know that governments have closed completely,” he said. “So, the government employees continue to work from home. This leads to a much higher use of computer equipment at home.” Source: CBC News

Electricity Prices for Ontario

The Hourly Ontario Energy Price (HOEP) was an average of 1.860 cents per kWh in July 2020. This price is 0.738 cents higher than last month’s 1.122 cents per kWh. The twelve month moving average was 1.327 cents per kWh up to July 2020.

The Actual Rate for the Global Adjustment rate Class B for June 2020 was set at 11.5 cents per kWh. The Global Adjustment is an additional charge paid by non-regulated customers. (Source: IESO)



Sask. government continues push for small modular nuclear power

The Saskatchewan government is continuing its push for nuclear power, announcing Wednesday the establishment of an office to aid in the planning and development of small modular reactors in the province. The government said its new nuclear secretariat will “co-ordinate nuclear policy and program work within the Climate Change & Adaptation Division in the Ministry of Environment.” Environment Minister Dustin Duncan said it will benefit the province in the way of jobs, enhanced value-chains for the province’s uranium and “our made-in-Saskatchewan climate policy.” Duncan said the province is still committed to renewable energy and will have an announcement on a winning bidder for an upcoming solar project soon. “The plan for the 2020s is to pair natural gas plants with wind and solar energy and augment additional hydro capacity from Manitoba.” Duncan said the plan for 2030 is “fuzzier,” and that is why the government is exploring SMRs. He ruled out large-scale reactors being established in Saskatchewan. Source: CBC News



5 Winnipeg neighbourhoods chosen for curbside food waste pilot this fall

four assorted-color trash bins beside gray wallAbout 4,000 Winnipeg homes will get new curbside bins and kitchen pails to toss out their fruit scraps, bones, and other food waste as part of a pilot project that could help cut down methane emissions at the local dump. Homes in five neighbourhoods will be asked to participate in the organic waste diversion program this fall. The neighbourhoods were selected because they “reflect a diversity of Winnipeggers and types of homes” and different ways waste is collected, the city said in a news release on Thursday. Not all households in those neighbourhoods will be part of the pilot; select homeowners will be contacted in August and asked to participate come October. Those that are chosen will get trash pails and curbside bins solely for food waste. Instead of being lumped in with the rest of the trash at the dump, the food waste will be trucked to the Brady Road Resource Management Facility, where it will be composted. Source: CBC News


New Brunswick

NB Power’s rate hike plan for April 1 has been caught in pandemic limbo

A rate increase NB Power was hoping to have in place April 1 to help boost its troubled finances is still in limbo heading toward next month as the province and utility both ponder when customers and the economy might be ready to absorb higher prices. “Increasing electricity prices at the wrong time may slow the economic recovery and hurt our most vulnerable citizens,” said province of New Brunswick spokesperson Nick Brown in an email Thursday. In February, NB Power presented its case to a full Energy and Utilities Board (EUB) hearing for a 1.9 per cent increase in rates to take effect April 1 but on March 19, with a ruling imminent the utility requested an indefinite suspension of the application in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. NB Power has reduced or delayed some capital spending plans for the year, including the temporary suspension of its application to acquire and deploy smart meters in New Brunswick which Brown said has been helping to cut the utility’s costs. Source: CBC News


Prince Edward Island

P.E.I., feds to spend $44M for new wind energy transmission line

silhouette of windmills during golden hourThe federal and P.E.I. governments say they will together spend $44 million on a 106-kilometre transmission line to transport energy from future wind generation projects in western P.E.I. — specifically, a new wind farm to be built in Skinners Pond. The provincial government is putting $22.75 million into the project while the federal government is contributing $21.25 million. The line will help the province manage power from a future wind farm in Skinners Pond, which the politicians said is planned for 2025 and will produce 40 megawatts of energy. It will connect to the Sherbrooke substation just outside Summerside. The Skinners Pond area is relatively undeveloped and has a strong wind regime, said Egmont MP Bobby Morrissey. This is the latest in a series of project announcements over the last few weeks involving tens of millions of dollars from the provincial and federal governments, including new sports arenas. Source: CBC News



Hydro-Québec expands its horizons with massive solar energy project

Hydro-Québec is venturing into solar energy on a massive scale and testing the benefits of the new technology. The province’s electric authority began building solar generating stations at La Prairie and Varennes in the spring. The massive project will allow Hydro-Québec to test whether solar energy is adapted to the Québec climate and see how it will integrate into the grid already in place. The two generating stations are still in their early stages. Once complete, the combined stations will be able to generate close to 10 megawatts (MW) of energy, enough to supply about 1,000 homes. The project had a delayed start in late spring, yet Hydro-Québec hopes to have the project completed and running by the end of the year. Officials say the solar project is expected to operate for the next 30 years. Source: Global News


Newfoundland and Labrador

Canada Invests in Newfoundland and Labrador’s Electric Vehicle Network

The Honourable Seamus O’Regan, Canada’s Minister of Natural Resources, today announced a $770,000 investment to help Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro build 28 electric vehicle (EV) chargers across the province that will create good, middle-class jobs and support Canada’s transition to a clean energy future by reducing pollution. The federal funding, which builds on the $1,289,400 the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador is investing in the project, is provided through the Electric Vehicle and Alternative Fuel Infrastructure Deployment Initiative (EVAFIDI) and the Zero-Emission Vehicle Infrastructure Program. It will help Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro to build an EV network along the Trans-Canada Highway, connecting the province’s capital, St. John’s, to Port aux Basques. Fourteen sites will feature both a fast charger and a Level 2 charger. Construction of the first site is scheduled to start this summer. These chargers represent an important milestone, as Newfoundland and Labrador becomes the tenth and final province/territory to join the national EV network that stretches across Canada. Source: Newswire


Nova Scotia

Customers criticize Nova Scotia Power over lack of info over opting out of smart meters

Some Nova Scotia Power customers say the utility is not being transparent enough about the fact they can opt out of the company’s $133-million smart meter program that automates meter readings. The smart meters allow the company to automatically measure how much electricity people consume and will eliminate the need for meter readers to manually take the measurement. Aulenback, who does not object to having a smart meter, said the technician who installed his meter last week did not mention it was optional. Nova Scotia Power said it’s following the opt-out communications plan approved by its regulator, the Nova Scotia Utility and Review Board (UARB). As part of that, opt-out information is available on the company’s website and through its customer care department. Customers who opt out will have to pay for manual readings — approximately $4 for bimonthly readings and roughly $22 for monthly ones. The actual amount will be determined at a later UARB hearing. The organization is not permitted to charge any other fees, unless approved by the UARB. Nova Scotia Power said using smart meters will result in annual savings of $4.6 million because of less meter reading and field work. Source: CBC News



Construction starts on Nunavik hydro project

Construction on Inukjuak’s hydro dam project is finally underway. Since early July, residents of the Hudson coast community might have noticed blasting and heavy machinery traffic at a site outside town by the Inukjuak River. That’s the future home of a 7.5-megawatt run-of-the-river dam—the Innavik hydro project—which is expected to be completed by the end of 2022. The plan is for Innavik to supply almost all the energy needed to power the community of 1,800, which currently relies on diesel. There has been some local opposition to the project. With approximately 65 hectares set to be flooded for the dam, community members have shared concerns about the potential for mercury poisoning in the water and how that might affect local fish and wildlife populations. Fish monitoring has already begun to establish baseline levels of mercury in the river. Worries over negative effects prompted Pituvik to host a community information session in January, when the project leaders brought in experts to address people’s concerns. Source: Nunatsiaq News


Northwest Territories

Beaufort Delta communities see new research opportunities thanks to COVID-19 restrictions

Researchers at the University of Saskatchewan are teaming up with people in the Beaufort Delta region of the N.W.T., on a survey about energy use. It’s part of a project called CASES, Community Appropriate Sustainable Energy Security Partnership, an international research initiative which will conduct surveys in different northern communities about energy. The goal of the project, according to the university’s website, is to reimagine energy security in northern and Indigenous communities “by co-creating and brokering the knowledge, understanding, and capacity to design, implement and manage renewable energy systems.” In the Beaufort Delta, surveys will be done in Fort McPherson, Aklavik, Tsiigehtchic and Inuvik. Greg Poelzer, a co-director of the project, says their original plan was to send graduate students to the Beaufort Delta to work with community members. But COVID-19 travel restrictions changed that plan. Poelzer said they discussed the decision with the Gwich’in Tribal Council, and ultimately hired residents in the four communities to conduct the surveys.He said this change will actually benefit the project in the long run, by helping build long-term capacity with community researchers. Source: CBC News



Yukon Energy Signs Agreement to Purchase Solar Power from Solvest Inc.

blue solar panels during daytiemYukon Energy Corporation has signed the first Electricity Purchase Agreement with an Independent Power Producer on the Yukon Integrated Electricity System. The agreement signed with Solvest Inc. outlines Yukon Energy’s commitment to purchase the renewable electricity generated by Solvest’s proposed 1.0 megawatt solar project on the North Klondike Highway for the next 25 years. The agreement was signed as part of Yukon government’s Independent Power Production Policy’s Standing Offer Program. Signing the Electricity Purchase Agreement will increase the supply of renewable electricity on the Yukon grid once Solvest’s solar project is complete. The additional source of renewable electricity will help offset Yukon Energy’s use of diesel and liquefied natural gas, particularly between the months of April and June each year when the amount of solar energy generated by Solvest’s solar array is expected to be the greatest. Solvest’s 1.0 megawatt solar project is scheduled to be complete in November 2020. Once constructed, Solvest’s solar project will be the largest solar array in the territory. Solvest will join the Vuntut Gwitchin First Nation government in being the second independently developed and operated, utility-scale solar project in the territory. Source: Yukon Energy