Making Sense of Energy

Energy Market Update: November 2017



Varcoe: Alberta’s new carbon tax on industry will cut emissions, but drive up costs

Two things are apparent coming out of the provincial government’s big announcement about changes to overhaul its carbon tax on big industrial operations.

No. 1: The shift should lead to less greenhouse gas emissions coming from these large players.

No. 2: There will be a cost to industry.

Instead of measuring emissions and GHG reductions on a facility-by-facility basis, as the old provincial program did, the new system will benchmark each major industry — such as cement, fertilizer and oilsands — on their emissions. Under this “output-based allocation system” the province will impose its revamped carbon tax on these larger emitters, beginning Jan. 1. In short, the most efficient firms with the lowest emissions within their sector will receive credits; less-efficient producers will end up paying more. (Source: Edmonton Journal)

Electricity Prices for Alberta

The Alberta power pool price averaged 2.617 cents per kWh in November 2017. This price is 0.572 cents higher than last month’s average of 2.045 cents per kWh. The pool price has averaged 2.245 cents per kWh over the last 12 months.

As of November 8, 2017, the forward market was predicting electricity prices for the calendar years of 2017, 2018, 2019 and 2020. These prices are 3.178, 4.750, 4.875, and 4.800 cents per kWh respectively.

Gas Prices for Alberta

Direct Energy’s gas rate for November 2017 was $1.825 per GJ in Alberta. The December 2017 rate has been set at $2.303 per GJ. Alberta gas prices have averaged $2.116 per GJ over the last 12 months.

As of November 3, 2017, the forward market was predicting gas prices for the calendar years of 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020, 2021, and 2022. These prices are 2.49, 2.24, 2.37, 2.45, 2.54, and 2.59 cents per GJ respectively.


British Columbia 

B.C. government proposes short-term freeze on B.C. Hydro rates

The NDP government is proposing to freeze B.C. Hydro rates for one year, fulfilling an election promise but leaving questions over whether the cash-strapped public utility can afford it. Energy Minister Michelle Mungall said a planned three per cent rate hike set for April 1, 2018, will be cancelled while the government launches an operational review of Hydro. The decision will mean a loss of $150 million in planned revenue. Hydro will push those costs into its “rate smoothing” account, which delays repayment of debt until some time in future. (Source: Montreal Gazette)

B.C.’s natural gas customers will see price decrease in 2018

FortisBC is dropping the price of natural gas effective January 1 and has announced electricity rates will stay the same — for now. The stay in electricity rates may be short lived, however. FortisBC applied to the British Columbia Utilities Commission for a rate increase of 0.17 per cent for 2018 — that decision is under regulatory review. (Source: CBC News)



Power to keep flowing this winter to people with unpaid bills

Ontario power companies are forbidden from disconnecting people who don’t pay their bills. This new annual moratorium brought in by the Ontario Energy Board remains in place until April 30. There was a trial moratorium last winter between Feb. 24 and May 1. During that time, the debt being carried by the utility had grown by about $180,000, a cost is spread out among the other electricity users. (Source: CBC News)

Electricity Prices for Ontario

The Hourly Ontario Energy Price (HOEP) was an average of 1.299 cents per kWh in November 2017. This price is 0.504 cents higher than last month’s 0.795 cents per kWh. The weighted-average price was 1.401 cents per kWh during November 2017. The twelve month moving average was 1.554 cents per kWh up to November 2017.

The Actual Rate for the Global Adjustment rate Class B for November 2017 was set at 9.704 cents per kWh. The Global Adjustment is an additional charge paid by non-regulated customers. (Source: IESO)



Saskatchewan’s climate-change plan includes buying carbon offsets, no carbon tax

The Saskatchewan government has introduced a climate-change strategy that inches toward a price on carbon emissions, but leaves large parts of its economy untouched. And it doesn’t include a carbon tax. It calls for performance standards on facilities that emit more than 25,000 tonnes annually of carbon dioxide equivalent. Facilities that exceed their limit will have to pay. They will be able to buy carbon offsets from farmers or foresters, a carbon credit from another company with emissions under its allotment or pay into a provincial fund. The standards are to be developed next year. (Source: Calgary Herald)



Wyatt wants Winnipeg to generate and sell solar power

Transcona Coun. Russ Wyatt wants Winnipeg to create a new arm’s-length corporation that will generate solar power and sell it back to Manitoba Hydro. The Transcona councillor has authored a motion to create a new non-profit entity to set up solar farms on city property, sell solar power and promote the benefits of green energy. Wyatt said the city can fund this new corporation using $200,000 in annual energy savings from the use of LED traffic lights. (Source: CBC News)


New Brunswick 

Government energy announcement lacks crucial details, expert says

In an announcement Monday, the government committed a total $234 million over five years for energy retrofits and renewable energy upgrades. The money included: $82 million from NB Power, $51 million from the federal government through the Low Carbon Economy Fund, and $101 million from the provincial government. In a statement by the Department of Environment and Local Government the money would be used for ‘enhanced’ programs for homeowners, businesses and government buildings. The statement said more specific details about those projects would be available in the coming months. (Source: CBC News)


Prince Edward Island 

Solar energy project exceeds expectations in Summerside

The City of Summerside, P.E.I., is thrilled with the performance of a solar energy gathering and storage system that went online at Credit Union place earlier this month. In its first two weeks, the system has produced close to 13 megawatt-hours of electricity, offsetting 2.5 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions. (Source: CBC News)



Énergir: Gaz Métro’s new name reflects energy diversity

Gaz Métro has changed its name to Énergir. The company says that while natural gas distribution accounted for almost all of its business 10 years ago, renewable electricity generation and distribution, as well as non-gas energy services, now make up almost 45 per cent of its assets. In addition to its natural gas distribution business, the company operates wind farms and this year purchased Standard Solar, a United States-based company specializing in the development of solar equipment for the commercial sector. (Source: Montreal Gazette)


Newfoundland and Labrador 

Public inquiry into how Muskrat Falls hydro project went billions over budget to begin in January

The $12.7-billion project — which will also provide energy to Nova Scotia through the underwater Maritime Link — has almost doubled in cost with financing since it was approved five years ago. Full power is not expected until 2020, about two years behind schedule. Electricity rates are expected to double for consumers by 2022, which Ball says is an “unacceptable” burden he’s working to mitigate. A public inquiry into how the Muskrat Falls hydro project in Labrador went billions of dollars over budget will report by Dec. 31, 2019 — just after the next provincial election. The inquiry will examine how the Labrador project was approved and executed, and why it was exempt from oversight by the Public Utilities Board. (Source: The Star)


Nova Scotia 

‘A savings to ratepayers’: EfficiencyOne wins battle for customer data

Regulators have ordered Nova Scotia Power to turn over the names, addresses and electricity usage data of its 400,000 residential customers to EfficiencyOne, the non-profit entity created to deliver energy savings programs. The Nov. 15 decision from the Nova Scotia Utility and Review Board capped a lengthy privacy battle. Nova Scotia Power refused to turn over the information, claiming doing so would put it at risk of violating privacy and anti-spam laws. The company had already provided EfficiencyOne with general energy usage data to help them design their energy-efficiency programming, but balked when it was asked for customer usage and contact information including names and emails. Nova Scotia Power has 60 days to provide the data. (Source: CBC News)



Solar panel pilot in Kuujjuaq may be the future for Nunavik communities

(Photo source: CBC News, Submitted by Allen Gordon)

Rows of solar panels were installed on two buildings in Kuujuuaq, Que., mid-September, and it’s generated a “significant amount” of energy for the community, says Andy Moorhouse of Makivik Corporation, an organization that represents Inuit in Nunavik. All of the energy that is being created is being used by the community electricity network, and the leftover is credited to Makivik Corporation, said Moorhouse. Mavikivik is also looking into developing weather stations, or towers, to measure wind and solar activity in all 14 communities in Nunavik. (Source: CBC News)


Northwest Territories

Thawing permafrost causes $51M in damages every year to N.W.T. public infrastructure: study

According to the Northwest Territories Association of Communities, thawing permafrost is causing approximately $51 million worth of damage to public infrastructure every year, and only the federal government has pockets deep enough to fix the problem. Sara Brown, the association’s CEO, presented these numbers at the Geoscience Forum in Yellowknife. (Source: CBC News)



Ta’an Kwäch’än, Yukon government begin geothermal energy study

Ta’an Kwäch’än Council, the Da Daghay Development Corporation, and the Yukon Geological Survey have formed a new partnership to explore the potential for geothermal energy projects on settlement land near Whitehorse. The project will measure deep geothermal temperatures near Takhini Hot Springs for up to a year. The first stage of the project is already underway. On Oct. 30, crews began drilling a 500-metre deep monitoring well on settlement land three kilometres west of the hot springs. It will be the deepest monitoring well of its kind in the territory. (Source: CBC News)