Making Sense of Energy

Energy Market Update: March 2021

Alberta

Interest in municipal solar projects heating up in Alberta

Big Lakes County in northern Alberta is no stranger to farming, but a new type of farm has popped up outside its public works building: solar. Late last year the county installed a solar photovoltaic (PV) system that is expected to produce more than 254,000 kilowatt hours of electricity per year. County CAO Jordan Panasiuk said the project has made the county’s public works and administration buildings net-zero. Big Lakes County was able to build its solar farm with funding from the Federal Gas Tax fund and a grant from the Alberta Municipal Solar Program, which paid for about 41 per cent of the project cost. The program is a relatively small but important part of the province’s solar industry, which currently has a number of multimillion-dollar projects on the way including a massive solar farm in Vulcan County and a 627-acre project at the Edmonton International Airport. So far 60 different municipalities have participated in the program and 112 solar PV systems have been installed. The program has created the equivalent of about 305 full-time jobs and is currently helping to reduce GHG emissions by almost 14,000 tonnes of CO2 equivalent per year. Source: CBC News

Electricity Prices for Alberta

The Alberta power pool price averaged 6.683 cents per kWh in March 2021. This price is 8.515 cents lower than last month’s average of 15.198 cents per kWh. The pool price has averaged 5.424 cents per kWh over the last 12 months.

Gas Prices for Alberta

Direct Energy’s gas rate for March 2021 was $4.102 per GJ in Alberta. The April 2021 rate has been set at $2.603 per GJ. Alberta gas prices have averaged $2.568 per GJ over the last 12 months.

As of April 5, 2021, the forward market was predicting gas prices for the calendar years of 2021, 2022, 2023, 2024, 2025, and 2026. These prices are 2.49, 2.36, 2.27, 2.33, 2.42, and 2.61 cents per GJ respectively.

 

British Columbia

B.C. firm Sharc on hunt for new business in North America’s green economy

When laundry-service owner Mike Friedes was looking for an environmentally friendly way of dealing with energy use at his Annacis-Island facility, clean-energy entrepreneur Lynn Mueller had a ready-made solution in the hot water it churns out every day. Friedes’ company, Wash Out, bills itself as an eco-friendly laundry with pickup and delivery services for commercial and retail customers. Mueller’s company, Sharc Energy Systems, designs and installs systems that recover and recycle the heat from waste water that would otherwise go down the drain. The idea is to collect waste water in a tank, filter it, then run it through a heat exchanger to extract energy for heating, air conditioning or, more to Wash Out’s needs, heat more water. Recycling the heat offsets a building-owner’s need for natural gas, curbing their carbon dioxide emissions in the process. Source: Vancouver Sun

 

Ontario

Ontario residents evenly divided on support for ‘carbon tax,’ poll finds

Ontarians are evenly split on support for carbon pricing and on whether the province should remain in the federal system or go it alone, a new poll suggests. The findings come after Ontario, Alberta and Saskatchewan lost their Supreme Court challenge against Ottawa’s “carbon tax” last month. In the wake of that March 25 decision, Campaign Research surveyed public opinion on the environmental initiative. The firm found 18 per cent strongly support a “carbon tax paid by everyone,” with 26 per cent somewhat supporting one for 44 per cent cent support in total. But 26 per cent strongly oppose the levy while 16 per cent somewhat oppose it, for 42 per cent opposed in total, with 13 per cent unsure. Source: The Star

Electricity Prices for Ontario

The Hourly Ontario Energy Price (HOEP) was an average of 1.707 cents per kWh in March 2021. This price is 1.545 cents lower than last month’s 3.252 cents per kWh. The twelve month moving average was 1.472 cents per kWh up to March 2021.

The Actual Rate for the Global Adjustment rate Class B for February 2021 was set at 5.042 cents per kWh. The Global Adjustment is an additional charge paid by non-regulated customers. (Source: IESO)

 

Saskatchewan

Saskatoon youth-led non-profit begins turning plastic bottles into 3D printer material

Sophia Lacroix and Kai Chen, Grade 11 students at Bishop James Mahoney High School, are using a Russian-built machine to turn plastic bottles into filament for 3D printers, and founded SK Eco Solutions to make the material available at no cost to schools and other educational institutions. The two students were tired of quarantine last spring and were brainstorming different ideas about things they could do. They landed on “Project PET” (PET stands for polyethylene terephthalate, the plastic used in bottles) and started their non-profit. The two are currently getting their supply of plastic bottles from community members, but hope to get more from community associations and groups as Spring cleanups start. Source: CBC News

 

Manitoba

Manitoba will still push forward with carbon tax challenge despite Supreme Court ruling

Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister says the province is still moving forward with its own legal challenge of the federal carbon tax, despite a Supreme Court ruling that the federal Liberal government’s carbon pricing regime is constitutional. In the decision released Thursday morning, Chief Justice Richard Wagner, writing for the majority, said the federal government can impose minimum pricing standards on provinces because the threat of climate change is so great that it requires a national approach. The province was an intervenor in that case. However, Pallister says the province’s legal challenge is based on different grounds, and argues that Manitoba’s plan still addresses the threat of climate change while being a better fit for the needs of the province. Pallister believes Manitoba should be recognized for his willingness to impose a carbon tax and the green investments the province has already made in hydroelectricity. Source: CBC News

 

New Brunswick

Premier hints at giving residents leftover $28M in carbon tax revenue

Premier Blaine Higgs has opened the door to rebating carbon tax revenue directly to New Brunswickers, a move that would bring his provincial price on emissions more in line with federal policy. Higgs said in question period Wednesday that his government is still looking at what to do with an additional $28 million it will collect when the provincial carbon tax increases on April 1. One consideration is “what if any proportion should be returned directly,” he said, “because that was the original [federal] program, a rebate program.” It would be an about-face for the Progressive Conservatives, who last year slashed the gas excise tax to blunt the impact of the new carbon tax on drivers. Source: CBC News

 

Prince Edward Island

STEPHEN HOWARD: Modernizing electricity and energy poverty in P.E.I.

Prince Edward Island has some of the highest rates of energy poverty in all of Canada.

Energy poverty refers to the reality that some people are unable to fully access or afford basic modern energy services such as heating, cooling, and keeping the lights on. We can help Islanders by improving existing laws around how energy is generated, bought, and sold on Prince Edward Island. We can reduce the cost of renewable energy on P.E.I. The cost of wind power has dropped significantly in recent years. However, the utility still has to pay a minimum price for this power, and this minimum price is now well above the cost of wind power. This drop in cost means that the P.E.I. Energy Corporation (PEIEC), the main seller of renewable electricity in the province, is making many millions in profit. By eliminating the minimum purchase price, government would force the PEIEC to pass along these millions of dollars to Islanders through rate reductions. By keeping the minimum purchase price, government is choosing to make millions on the backs of Islanders by intentionally keeping electricity rates high. Source: The Guardian

 

Québec

The Quebec Energy Transition: A Preview of The Emerging Green Hydrogen Sector

Hydrogen is regaining interest worldwide, including in the province of Quebec where several small and large hydrogen-related initiatives and projects have been launched in the last few years. Aiming to capitalize on the province’s abundant hydroelectric resources, the Quebec government has demonstrated its support for the emerging hydrogen sector by making green hydrogen a key component of the province’s economy and energy transition, and positioning the province as a leader of green hydrogen production. The formal release of Quebec’s green hydrogen and bioenergy strategy is expected in the fall of 2021. Development of the green hydrogen sector is seen as a key component in helping to achieve the province’s target of reducing its green house gas emissions by 37.5 per cent by 2030, as compared to the 1990 level. Source: Blakes

 

Newfoundland and Labrador

As Labrador Inuit try to keep pace with climate change, adaptation takes a toll

Lampe, the president of Nunatsiavut, the self-governing territory of Labrador’s Inuit, has been watching the climate shift for decades, but he and others say in recent years it has sped up to a pace that poses a huge challenge for both maintaining traditional ways of life and passing on those traditions. Not only is the ice closer, he said, but it is also thinner than it used to be. Those observations align with those of the Canadian Ice Service, which says Labrador’s ice coverage has generally trended below average since the late 1990s. 2021 has proved to be a particularly dire year for the region’s sea ice, with the ice setting in late and ending up averaging between 25 to 30 centimetres thinner than normal. On Labrador’s north coast, the sea ice is used as a highway system for connecting communities in the winter. When thin ice combines with unpredictable weather, it can make it dangerous for people to leave their homes. It stops trips to cabins and visits to lands where people were born — something Lampe said prevents spiritual nourishment. Source: CBC News

 

Nova Scotia

Port Hawkesbury Paper’s new power rate generating cost savings for all

The consumer advocate for Nova Scotia Power’s residential ratepayers says a year-old deal between the utility and its largest customer seems to be saving everyone some money. Last March, Port Hawkesbury Paper struck a deal with the utility to replace the former load retention rate, which was a lower fee for electricity that helped the mill climb out of creditor protection. Under the new deal, the mill pays for the cost of power and for a portion of the utility’s fixed costs. In exchange, Nova Scotia Power can control how much electricity the paper plant gets to take advantage of when the cost of power generation is lowest. In a recent filing with the province’s utility and review board, the power company said the new deal was expected to achieve about $6 million in savings in the first year. In fact, it said, the amount was $7.3 million. Source: CBC News

 

Nunavut

Garbage in the water: How old landfills are harming Inuit communities’ marine food chains

The landfill in Rankin Inlet is overfull, but the hamlet cannot open a new one until it can pay to decommission the old one, says Mayor Harry Towtongie. Permafrost means waste cannot be buried, but the landfill is too close to town and to the airstrip to safely burn garbage, and there is no building for sorting. For the community, this means household waste is getting in the water and introducing toxins into the food people rely on. “It’s a real environmental disaster up there. What happens is the plastics blow into the water and we can see plastic like 25 miles from town down winds. It’s even dangerous for boaters,” he says. A new environmental report says the same is true for communities across Canada’s Inuit regions, where landfills are built close to the ocean. In the report titled, Towards a Waste-Free Arctic, the environmental non-profit Oceans North says per capita, the 52 communities across Inuit Nunangat have the same amount of waste to manage as in the South, but infrastructure is inadequate. Researcher Susanna Fuller says, that’s Canada’s job to fix. Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami President Natan Obed writes a forward to the report, in which he says landfills and wastewater lagoons are not set up to safely handle the toxins they hold, and now climate change and coastal erosion are making things worse.  Source: CBC News

 

Northwest Territories

Government needs to prevent chronic power outages in Whati: N.W.T. MLA

Last month, Whatì, N.W.T., suffered a major power outage that lasted over 20 hours. According to MLA Jackson Lafferty, power outages are a common occurrence for the community. Whatì is the closest community to the Snare Hydro System in the entire territory, yet it is powered by failing diesel generators. Lafferty asked Minister of Infrastructure Diane Archie, who is also responsible for the NWT Power Corporation, how far along the department is in developing a transmission line that would connect Whatì to the Snare Hydro System. Archie said the territory is in the planning phase now. Source: CBC News

 

Yukon

A wet summer plus lots of snow equals more renewable electricity in 2021

Hydro plays a key role in Yukon’s electricity mix. After lots of rain last summer and heavy snowfall this winter, we expect more water to be available to generate renewable electricity this year. Yukon government’s March 2021 Snow Survey Bulletin indicates that snowpack in the Southern Lakes watershed is on, average, 172% of normal this winter. In 2021, we expect to use water to generate about 94% of the electricity needed by Yukoners connected to the grid. The remaining 6% will be produced using liquefied natural gas, primarily, as well as a small amount of diesel. Source: Yukon Energy