Making Sense of Energy

Energy Market Update – June 2019


Varcoe: Kenney initiates review into Alberta Energy Regulator

In an interview, Premier Jason Kenney said he’s asked Energy Minister Sonya Savage and Environment Minister Jason Nixon to evaluate the organization. “Our view is that it has not achieved its promise from when it was first created — that timelines for project approvals in Alberta are unacceptably long and also that the fees charged to Alberta energy producers are unacceptably high,” the premier said. “So that’s why I have mandated ministers Savage and Nixon with conducting a full review of the AER.” Formed in 2013, the AER is one of the province’s most important organizations, in charge of regulating the development of Alberta’s energy industry, including more than 167,000 operating wells and 426,000 kilometres of pipelines. Source: Edmonton Journal

Electricity Prices for Alberta

The Alberta power pool price averaged 5.352 cents per kWh in June 2019. This price is 2.126 cents lower than last month’s average of 7.478 cents per kWh. The pool price has averaged 5.928 cents per kWh over the last 12 months.

As of July 15, 2019, the forward market was predicting electricity prices for the calendar years of 2019, 2020, 2021, and 2022. These prices are 6.260, 5.775, 5.900, and 5.325 cents per kWh respectively.

Gas Prices for Alberta

Direct Energy’s gas rate for June 2019 was $0.365 per GJ in Alberta. The July rate has been set at $0.372 per GJ. Alberta gas prices have averaged $1.731 per GJ over the last 12 months.

As of July 8, 2019, the forward market was predicting gas prices for the calendar years of 2019, 2020, 2021, 2022, 2023, and 2024. These prices are 1.64, 1.67, 1.83, 1.98, 2.17, and 2.39 cents per GJ respectively.


British Columbia

Electricity and water do mix: How electric ships are clearing the air on the B.C. coast

For years, the shipping industry has been criticized for being slow to clean up its act. Most ships use heavy fuel oil, a cheap, viscous form of petroleum that produces immense exhaust. According to the European Commission, shipping currently pumps out about 940 million tonnes of CO2 each year, nearly three per cent of the global total. After three years of daily use hauling freight along the B.C. coast, Harly Penner, director of fleet engineering and vessel development with Seaspan Marine, has become a big believer in the hybrid technology and its ability to cut CO2 emissions. He said it’s hard to come up with an exact number, but switching from diesel to a combination of natural gas and electric creates “a substantial” reduction in emissions. Source: CBC News



The environmental cost of smoking pot

Shallow Focus Photography of Cannabis PlantAs cannabis users consume the drug in different forms across the country, the effect on the environment remains unclear. In Essex County, Ont., new greenhouses sprawl across agricultural land that was once famously known for growing tomatoes and making ketchup. AgMedica, a Chatham, Ont., producer of cannabis, ditched greenhouse growing for more controlled indoor operations. While the financial savings are tangible for the company, the reduced footprint could have a lasting impact on the environment, said Jeremy Buitenhuis, chief operating officer for AgMedica. “Compared to going out on a one-level basis, we can actually do four levels. We have about a quarter of the footprint,” said Buitenhuis. AgMedica chose LED lighting for all of its indoor growing and is looking at the possibility of installing solar panels. “We recycle all of our water, so the water is made at the back of the building and mixing tanks. It’s all computerized. The plant receives the exact amount of water that it needs for the day,” said Buitenhuis. Composting is one more area where cannabis growing can look to improve. Source: CBC News

Electricity Prices for Ontario

The Hourly Ontario Energy Price (HOEP) was an average of 0.367 cents per kWh in June 2019. This price is 0.334 cents lower than last month’s 0.701 cents per kWh. The twelve month moving average was 2.109 cents per kWh up to June 2019.

The Actual Rate for the Global Adjustment rate Class B for June 2019 was set at 11.896 cents per kWh. The Global Adjustment is an additional charge paid by non-regulated customers. (Source: IESO)



Federal government gives $1.2M to Sask. groups to phase out coal

Five Saskatchewan communities are getting more than $1.2 million to phase out coal and bring in renewable alternatives. The money comes by way of the federal government’s Canada Coal Transition Initiative (CCTI), which started in 2018. The initiative is part of the federal government’s goal to phase out all coal-fired electricity generation by 2030. The money from the federal initiative is meant to establish a plan for workers currently employed in the coal industry to be retrained to work in other fields. The Southeast Regional College, for example, will receive $188,000 to establish a “solar installation training program and install a permanent and mobile solar training laboratory in Estevan,” according to a release. Estevan Mayor Roy Ludwig welcomes the assistance to help facilitate the transition to away from coal, but says keeping high-paying jobs in the area is a chief concern. Source: CBC News



Manitoba’s new ‘utility scale’ solar farm aims to spark First Nations interest in green energy

Fisher River Cree Nation will soon be home to the biggest solar farm in Manitoba — a one megawatt facility that will be hooked up to the province’s power grid — and its backers are hoping that the project will pique the interest of other First Nations. Fisher River’s solar farm, located about 200 kilometres north of Winnipeg, has almost 3,000 panels. It’s what Manitoba Hydro calls “the first utility-scale solar project” in the province, and it spans seven acres and was built entirely by Indigenous employees. The solar array is a partnership with W Dusk Energy Group Inc., an Indigenous-owned firm that specializes in solar, wind and renewable energy systems. The company helped design and manage the project. According to Crate, the solar farm got the green light after an agreement was finalized a couple of years ago with Manitoba Hydro to have Fisher River sell the energy generated by the array to the Crown corporation’s grid. Source: CBC News


New Brunswick

Smart Energy Project Connects New Brunswick and Nova Scotia Communities

Combating climate change requires new and innovative approaches to electricity distribution. Upgrading infrastructure with new technologies will create jobs and lower energy costs while also protecting the environment by lowering carbon emissions. Alaina Lockhart, Member of Parliament for Fundy Royal, on behalf of Canada’s Minister of Natural Resources, the Honourable Amarjeet Sohi, announced a $10.8-million investment in a smart grid project. The initiative will see New Brunswick Power (NB Power) and Nova Scotia Power (NS Power) pilot new digital energy technologies, which will create 150 highly skilled jobs and reduce emissions by 2,800 tonnes annually by 2030 — all while lowering costs for consumers. Source: Alaina Lockhart


Prince Edward Island

P.E.I. government prepared to intervene in electricity rate hearings

P.E.I.’s Energy Minister Steven Myers says the province is prepared to intervene in upcoming hearings on increasing electricity rates on the Island. In the legislature Friday, Myers expressed concern about the potential for “rate shock” from one proposed change he said would have an “unfair impact on farmers.” In December, Maritime Electric filed an application with the Island Regulatory and Appeals Commission for a rate increase the utility wanted to see kick in March 1, 2019. However, on Feb. 28 IRAC announced it was deferring a decision on the application as it sought further information and pending public hearings to be held over the summer. Overall the utility is seeking an increase of 4.1 per cent over three years for residential customers. Source: CBC News



Electricity rates: Adoption of a simplified approach that will guarantee low rates

Hydro-Québec welcomes Bill 34, which will guarantee low electricity rates and simplify the rate-setting process. The proposed legislation provides for the following changes: In 2020: Rate freeze that will generate savings of nearly $1 billion for our customers over the next five years. Reimbursement to our customers of some $500 million related to accounting mechanisms that will no longer apply under the new framework.  From 2021 to 2024: Rate adjustments pegged to inflation. For almost 60 years, Hydro-Québec’s rate increases have been in line with inflation. The company must nevertheless continue to improve productivity since revenue growth will be limited. Since rate increases will be equal to inflation, the company will have to keep up its performance improvement efforts to compensate for its limited revenue growth. Source: Hydro Quebec


Newfoundland and Labrador

Quebec’s top court rules for N.L. in Churchill Falls dispute with Hydro-Québec

Newfoundland and Labrador has achieved a rare win in its longstanding battle with Hydro-Québec over a 50-year-old agreement on sales of Churchill Falls power that has long been a source of contention for the province. The Quebec Court of Appeal says in a ruling that Churchill Falls Corp. Ltd. — a subsidiary of Newfoundland’s Crown corporation overseeing hydroelectricity — has the right to sell energy produced above a certain threshold. Hydro-Québec retains the right to sell Churchill Falls energy up to a monthly cap. That’s good news for Newfoundland and Labrador because it ensures that Churchill Falls Corp. can manage water on the Upper Churchill to avoid negatively affecting the Muskrat Falls facility’s ability to generate power, said Premier Dwight Ball. The province will be able to set a threshold for the size of reservoirs and ensure adequate flow from the Upper Churchill to the Lower Churchill, he said. Source: CBC News


Nova Scotia

Help cutting N.S. electricity bills may soon be just a few clicks away

Person Using LaptopNova Scotians may soon be able to get advice on how to cut their power bills through a piece of software, rather than the in-home audits that are currently recommended. EfficiencyOne, the Nova Scotia agency tasked with helping Nova Scotians reduce their energy usage, is testing software created by Ontario-based EnergyX Solutions. Using a computer and billing information from a power utility, homeowners can receive an energy consumption report and specific suggestions on what they can do to lower their power bill. EnergyX co-founder Nishaant Sangaavi said once a user provides the information, the software goes to work and will help them “begin the energy efficiency journey.” The software has been available to P.E.I. residents for almost two years, where more than 1,300 Islanders have used it. According to efficiencyPEI, 95 per cent of those who have received efficiency tips have used at least some of them to lower their power bills. Source: CBC News



Nunavut’s High Arctic roasts under record heat

Located at a latitude of 82 degrees north, the average summer temperature in Alert hovers just above three degrees Celsius. The 21 C temperature registered on July 14 marks the region’s new all-time high, and that heat has continued through the week, with a high of 20 C on July 15 and 18 C on July 16. “That’s never been seen before,” Castellan said. It’s been a hot summer throughout much of the eastern Arctic. Iqalungmiut celebrated Nunavut Day in the territory’s capital July 9 as the mercury rose above 23 C, an all-time high for that day. Since June, Iqaluit has broken temperature records four times, Castellan noted. Source: Nunatsiaq News


Northwest Territories

Southern Canada ‘has to do more’ to address climate change, NWT premier says

The premier of the Northwest Territories says the rest of Canada “has to do more” to address climate change because the north represents a tiny fraction of the country’s greenhouse gas emissions but feels the effects more acutely. According to federal government data, the three territories emitted a total of 2.4 megatonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent gasses in 2017, the last year for which data is available. That represents 0.3 per cent of the national total of 716 megatonnes of greenhouse gasses. The federal government’s climate change plan is among the most divisive political issues in the country, and conservative premiers — including Saskatchewan’s Scott Moe — have criticized it as ineffective. Ottawa, meanwhile, has said Saskatchewan’s climate change plan, which does not include a carbon tax, is insufficient to adequately address pollution. The Supreme Court of Canada is set to hear Saskatchewan’s appeal in the carbon tax case later this year. Saskatchewan unsuccessfully challenged the federal government’s carbon tax. Source: The Star Phoenix



Here’s what you need to know as carbon tax takes effect in Yukon

Carbon tax comes into effect in the Yukon as of July 1. Yukoners estimated to pay an extra $84 in 1st year, gas going up 4.42 cents per litre, diesel 5.37 cents. There are exemptions to the carbon tax. Commercial fishing and agriculture are federally exempt. Aviation fuel is also exempt in all three territories and there are relief measures for diesel-powered electricity in remote communities and greenhouse operators. Individual Yukoners over 19 years old who have filed their taxes will get their first rebate payment of $43 in October and the second, also $43, in April 2020. From July 2020 onwards, payments will be made quarterly and include a 10 per cent supplement for people living in remote areas in the Yukon. The carbon tax is expected to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the Yukon by approximately 20 kilotonnes in 2020 and 32 kilotonnes in 2022. The Federal, provincial and territorial governments are expected to work together to complete an interim report on carbon pricing in 2020 and a five-year review in 2022. Source: CBC News