Making Sense of Energy

Energy Market Update: April 2015

alberta  Alberta

BluEarth Renewables Inc. of Calgary won regulatory approval, allowing it to begin construction on its $80-million Bull Creek Wind Project in east central Alberta. The project itself is smaller than originally planned and the reasoning was to size it to the power purchase agreements made with the Twenty-Five school boards. The revised project is to produce 29.2 megawatts from 17 wind turbines, starting at the end of the year. The electricity produced at the Bull Creek Wind Project will flow via existing power line onto the provincial grid. If it produces more than required, the excess will be sold into the Alberta power pool market; if more electricity is needed, power will be purchased from the market. Details of the 25-year agreements are confidential however, the company assures that the process to reach those agreements was competitive.   (Source:  Edmonton Journal)

Electricity Prices for Alberta

The Alberta power pool price averaged 2.052 cents per kWh in April 2015. This price is 0.012 cents lower than last month’s average of 2.064 cents per kWh. The pool price has averaged 4.063 cents per kWh over the last 12 months.

As of April 6th, 2015, the forward market was predicting electricity prices for the calendar years of 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018 and 2019. These prices are 3.696, 3.700, 4.025, 4.250 and 4.700 cents per kWh respectively.

Gas Prices for Alberta

Direct Energy’s gas rate for April was $2.919 per GJ in the North and $2.903 per GJ in the South. The May rate has been set at $2.186 per GJ in the North and $2.227 per GJ in the South. Alberta gas prices have averaged $3.558 per GJ over the last 12 months.

As of May 5th, 2015, the forward market was predicting gas prices for the calendar years of 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018 and 2019. These prices are 2.82, 2.99, 3.21, 3.35 and 3.53 cents per GJ respectively.

bc  British Columbia

Local Vancouver developer Ian Gillespie expects to invest over $100-million over the next five years into converting a natural gas steam plant into a low-carbon energy system. The system will provide heat for the regions of Stanley Park to the Downtown Eastside. Ian Gillespie is to use a 47-year-old, 250-megawatt Central Heat Distribution steam plant, whose boilers (6) supply heat to 210 office and residential buildings. This facility, Creative Energy, is intended to switch the fuel supply from natural gas to waste wood. Ian Gillespie’s company, which is regulated by the B.C Utilities Commission also expects to build a new power plant named “Greenhouse”, which will burn low-carbon fuel to heat a recirculating hot water system and reduce 90% of Creative Energy’s annual greenhouse gas emissions from the Beatty Street plant. The company is expected to file an application for the plant to the Utilities Commission in 2017 and have it running by 2020. The city has given the Creative Energy facility 18 months to prove out its business case.  (Source:  Vancouver Sun)

ontario  Ontario

The province of Ontario intends to proceed with a merger of Enersource Corporation, Horizon Utilities, Hydro One Brampton Networks Inc., and PowerStream Holdings Inc. This comes as result of the recommendation of the Premier’s Advisory Council on Government Assets, which the province accepted. The merger is expected to generate the province of Ontario $500-million while making the merged entity the second-largest electricity distributor in Ontario by number of customers, and creating Canada’s largest municipally-owned electricity distributor. The merger represents a step forward in promoting LDC consolidation in Ontario, with the municipalities that own the three partner LDCs expressing their support for the merger. Completion of the details pertaining to the merger is expected to last through early summer 2015, with definite agreements finalizing thereafter.   (Sources:  The Globe & Mail, News Ontario)

Electricity Prices for Ontario

The weighted-average Hourly Ontario Energy Price (HOEP) was 2.423 cents per kWh in March 2015. This price is cents 2.542 cents lower than last month’s 4.9652 cents per kWh. The weighted-average price has averaged 2.444 cents per kWh for the past 12 months.

The Global Adjustment rate for March was set at 3.604 cents per kWh. This rate was 6.981 cents in February 2015. The Global Adjustment is an additional charge paid by non-regulated customers. (Source: IESO)

sask Saskatchewan

According to its 2014 annual report, SaskEnergy recorded a decreased net income of $47-million last year, down 40 per cent; due to one of the worst winters recorded in over 30 years. Last year, the natural gas utility increased its commodity rate to $4.84 per gigajoule from $3.83, representing the first commodity rate increase in six years. This year, the company is hesitant on whether it will be forced to seek another rate hike due to the commodity price being down and the gas cost variance account having a deficit of $18.5-million; a reduced value from the previously recorded $30-million. The system and supply changes contributed to the decline in income as well as irregular challenges such as a fire at a storage cavern, an explosion at Regina beach. SaskEnergy expects a net income of $73 million for the year 2015.   (Source: Leaderpost)

manitoba  Manitoba

Dating back to last year, cottage fee hikes have been affecting provincial parks and according to Conservation Minister Gord Mackintosh, they’re here to stay. Despite a demand for a two year moratorium from Progressive Conservative leader Brian Pallister and complaints from cabin owners, Conservation Minister declined to remove the fee hikes. Cottage owners went from paying $703 in 2013 to $1,697 in 2015 yet, Minister Gord Mackintosh explained that a two-year moratorium would result in $3.3 MM of lost taxes, which would then be collected from all taxpayers. For that reason, a decade-long phase-in of fee hikes that began in 2014 will stay on track.  (Source:  Winnipeg Sun)

NB  New Brunswick

During the month of April, NB Power offered in-store Smart Habits rebates, aimed at offering customers incentives to make small changes at home, in turn saving them energy and money according to NB Power President and CEO, Gaëtan Thomas. These rebates offered savings on energy efficient products and cash rebates on eligible large appliances. Along with Smart Habits mail-in rebates, these programs are part of a three-year electricity plan and strategy implemented in August to reduce and shift energy demand. If successful, the goals laid out in this plan and strategy will help save up to a billion dollars in operating costs for the utility and hundreds of millions of dollars in energy savings for the customers. NB Power has worked with the former Efficiency New Brunswick group during the last two years, offering rebates and savings to customers who choose energy efficient products for their home.  (Source:  New Brunswick Power)

PEI  Prince Edward Island

Funded by the provincial government, four community rinks that invested thousands of dollars into wind turbines that never functioned properly have received refunds. Each rink contributed $70,000 to the construction of each 50 kilowatt wind turbine on their respective properties. With the provincial and federal governments paying $100,000 and $80,000, respectively to each rink; construction and installation of the four turbines totaled $1 million. Introduced in 2010, the project was supposed to save the rinks money on their monthly energy bills, but each suffered from technical and performance problems resulting in all four turbines being shut down in January of 2014. Although the provincial government accepted responsibility for refunding the rinks’ contributions, any money raised through the sale of the repaired and appraised turbines would be used to recoup costs by the provincial government.  (Source:  Journal Pioneer)

Quebec  Quebec

The largest public charging network in Québec, The Electric Circuit, gained a new partner, the city of Sainte-Julie, to its fast-charge Circuit. Eight other fast-charge stations are already in service and more will be added later in the year in over 20 locations. Nissan Canada will support the commissioning of the first 25 fast-charge sites installed in 2015. The Electric Circuit is a major initiative in the implementation of the infrastructure required to support the adoption of plug-in electric vehicles in Québec with around 400 stations. The Circuit, launched in March 2012, has 107 private and institutional partners and has over 4000 members.  (Source:  Hydro Quebec)

NFL  Newfoundland & Labrador

On April 9th, Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro experienced multiple power outages in the area of Natuashish. One unit went offline for scheduled maintenance however, a second unit experienced technical issues and was unable to provide power. Four hours after the initial technical issues occurred, power was restored after crews repaired the diesel unit. Half the town experienced power outages as the other half was served by two remaining units.  (Source:  Newfoundland Hydro)

Nova Scotia  Nova Scotia

The Assembly of Nova Scotia Mi’kmaq Chiefs and NSP Maritime Link Inc., a subsidiary of Emera, formally signed a Socio-Economic Agreement for the Maritime Link Project; A 500 MW high voltage direct current transmission project bringing energy from the Lower Churchill project at Muskrat Falls to Nova Scotia. The agreement entails the NSPML supporting the Assembly’s participation during the construction phase, help build workforce capacity to benefit from present and future projects, and provide access for qualified workers. As part of the Environmental Assessment for the Maritime Link, the Federal Government and the Government of Nova Scotia have been supportive of Emera’s efforts to engage Aboriginal communities adjacent to the project.  (Source:  Investors Emera)

Nunavut  Nunavut

Dunedin Energy Systems Ltd., suggested “floating nuclear power plants” as an alternative energy source to diesel powered generation’s high costs. High mining costs have discouraged development and according to Peter Lang, President of Dunedin, diesel powered generation is not sustainable for the scale of development that wants to be seen. Peter Lang said that floating nuclear power plants do not throw any greenhouse gases or particulate air pollution, such as soot or “black” carbon into the air. Costs vary between 15-30 cents per kW-hour while consumer power rates in Nunavut are more than 70 cents per kW-hour. The power plant floats in the water as a non-permanent installation and when the mine closes down, shore distribution facilities are dismantled and it is towed away back to its home port without leaving any residual radioactivity.  (Source:  Nunatsiaq Online)

nwt  Northwest Territories

New proposed regulations for hydraulic fracturing have been released by the Government of Northwest Territories. Although mandatory in other jurisdictions, the proposed regulations in the N.W.T force companies to state up front if they’re willing to publicly disclose information, such as which chemicals they will use in fracking fluids. This comes after the territorial government took control of public lands and resources during the devolution process one year ago. Some pushback has been present as several groups in N.W.T have signed a petition for a fracking moratorium in the territory, arguing that a public discussion regarding hydraulic fracking is needed before any major decisions are made. Draft regulations will be posted online for 90 days; final regulations scheduled to be brought into effect in August.   (Source:  CBC News)

Yukon  Yukon

Yukon Energy’s Secondary Sales Program was re-joined by Yukon Hospital Corporation recently after a slight halt of a few years. Priced at a discount to heating oil, Secondary Sales program gives eligible Yukon businesses the option of using renewable power to heat their facilities instead of more expensive, GHG producing fossil fuels; saving participating companies about 30% on their heating bills. Mostly due to warmer temperatures, sales have decreased for Yukon Energy in the last two years. This program has therefore given the company an opportunity to make up some of those lost revenues, allowing the company to keep rates affordable for other firm customers as well as lowering greenhouse emissions for the entire Yukon. Whitehorse General Hospital estimates heating costs to be reduced by $100,000 this year alone.  (Source:  Yukon Energy)