Chris Varcoe: With new CEO at helm, Suncor pulls trigger on blockbuster $5.5B oilsands deal
Suncor Energy announced Thursday the $5.5-billion acquisition of TotalEnergies’ Canadian operations, a blockbuster acquisition that continues the consolidation within the Alberta oilsands — and the exodus of international players from the world’s fourth-largest oil reserves. The deal also increases the Calgary-based company’s production and provides a partial answer to the long-standing question of how Suncor can best replace bitumen output once its base mine north of Fort McMurray reaches the end of its life. The agreement includes 135,000 barrels per day (bpd) of bitumen production capacity, with Suncor snapping up the French company’s 31 per cent stake in the Fort Hills oilsands mine. The all-cash deal could include an additional $600-million payment to France’s TotalEnergies, depending upon certain production targets and the benchmark price of Western Canadian Select heavy crude being met.
Source: Edmonton Journal
Electricity Prices for Alberta
The Alberta power pool price averaged 14.234 cents per kWh in April 2023. This price is 3.223 cents lower than last month’s average of 17.457. The pool price has averaged 17.697 cents per kWh over the last 12 months.
As of May 1, 2023, the forward market was predicting electricity prices for the calendar years of 2023, 2024, 2025, 2026, 2027, and 2028. These prices are 15.758, 9.298, 7.703, 7.425, 7.425, and 7.425 cents per kWh respectively.
Gas Prices for Alberta
Direct Energy’s gas rate for April 2023 was $3.381 per GJ in Alberta. The May 2023 rate has been set at $2.415 per GJ. Alberta gas prices have averaged $5.238 per GJ over the last 12 months.
As of May 1, 2023, the forward market was predicting gas prices for the calendar years of 2023, 2024, 2025, 2026, and 2027. These prices are 2.37, 3.23, 4.10, 4.29, and 4.24 cents per GJ respectively.
BC Building Code Changes Coming May 1, 2023
These building code changes enable 20% better energy efficiency and provide an opt-in Zero Carbon Step Code (formerly known as the Carbon Pollution Standard) and were signed by the Minister of Housing last week. The opt-in Zero Carbon Step Code will also be available for local governments to reference starting May 1, 2023.The performance approach for Step 3 in Part 9 construction remains the default option. Local governments wishing to enable a prescriptive energy efficiency approach for Step 3 in Part 9 construction must pass a bylaw to enable that approach. This responds to feedback from rural or remote communities who wish to maintain a prescriptive-based option, while also meeting requests from other local governments wishing to retain the performance-based approach. Back-up heat from wood stoves and decorative gas fireplaces will be excluded from GHG modelling in Part 9 buildings. This responds to feedback from communities that experience frequent power outages.
What you need to know about Ontario’s new ‘ultra-low’ hydro pricing
The Ontario government is introducing a new “ultra-low overnight” electricity plan that can benefit shift workers and individuals who charge electric vehicles while they sleep. The new rate, which will be available as an opt-in option as of May 1, will be 2.4 cents per kilowatt-hour from 11 p.m. to 7 a.m. Officials say this is 67 per cent lower than the current off-peak rate. However, customers should be aware that this plan will mean a higher on-peak rate. With the new addition of the “ultra low” pricing, there are now three different electricity plans that Ontarians can choose from.
Source: CTV News Toronto
Provincial government calls off SaskEnergy rate hikes
The provincial government says it has directed the Saskatchewan Rate Review Panel to cancel rate increase applications from SaskEnergy. A combined proposal from the utility had asked for five per cent increases in the delivery rate in July of this year and next year. Don Morgan, the minister responsible for SaskEnergy, said he made the decision to help keep energy costs affordable for residents. Last August, SaskEnergy hiked its delivery rate by eight per cent, and its commodity rate by 31 per cent. In December, the rate review panel recommended maintaining the delivery and commodity increases put in place in August but suggested the proposed increases for 2023 and 2024 not be considered.
Presenting Alternatives for Manitoba’s Fossil Fuel Addiction
On April 20, the Manitoba Climate Action Team launched volume three of Manitoba’s Road to Resilience (MRR) at a stakeholder gathering held at the Bill and Helen Norrie Library in Winnipeg. Members of the business community and members of government were invited to attend. The MRR is a series of reports which outlines a pathway to get Manitoba moving toward a future free of fossil fuels. Volume three of the report lays out governmental policy solutions which would get the province on track to reach its climate goals through the use of clean, affordable energy, all while saving the taxpayer money. Curt Hull is a researcher and the lead author for the MRR project. According to Hull, the United Nations Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released its latest report just last month, calling the climate issue a ticking time bomb. They implored all industrialized nations, such as Canada, to arrive at net-zero emissions ten years earlier, by 2040.
Source: The Citizen
Saskatchewan And New Brunswick Formalize Partnership On SMR Development
The governments of Saskatchewan and New Brunswick have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to enhance cooperation on the development of small modular reactor (SMR) technologies in both provinces. The MOU provides the ability for the two provinces and their utility Crowns, SaskPower and New Brunswick Power, to formally share experiences, knowledge and successes on deployment plans, supply chain development, Indigenous relations, labour market development, regulations, and other areas. New Brunswick plays a leading role in Canada for Generation 4 advanced SMR development. This technology can be beneficial to Saskatchewan while the province explores industrial decarbonization.
Prince Edward Island
Gas, furnace oil and diesel prices drop in P.E.I. April 21, 2023
Gas, furnace oil and diesel prices have all dropped across the province in the latest adjustment from the Prince Edward Island Regulatory and Appeals Commission (IRAC). The price of gasoline is down by 5.0 cents per litre (cpl), furnace oil decreased by 6.0 cpl and diesel dropped by 6.0 cpl. With the adjustments, which went into effect at 12:01 a.m. on April 21, pump prices for regular unleaded gasoline at self-serve outlets, including taxes, now range from 169.1 to 170.2 cpl. The prices for diesel range from 167.7 to 168.8 cpl, and the maximum price for furnace oil is 111.0 cpl.
Plan for a Green Economy 2023 – Collaborative Innovation Projects to Reduce GHG Emissions: The Ministry of Economy, Innovation and Energy of Quebec (MEIE) Grants $19.3 M to CRIBIQ
The Government of Quebec is granting, through the Plan for a Green Economy 2030, a maximum amount of $19.3 million to the Consortium for Research and Innovation in Industrial Bioprocesses in Quebec (CRIBIQ). The organization will thus be able to provide financial support, as part of the INNOV-R initiative, for collaborative projects between the industrial and research communities aimed at reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. The projects carried out under the INNOV-R initiative are the result of collaborations between businesses and public research institutions. The new funding will allow the CRIBIQ to continue supporting collaborative research, but also to add a complementary component to future calls for proposals. This new component will make it possible to directly support companies in implementing their GHG reduction innovation projects. Finally, government assistance will also support the coordination of concerted activities to mobilize the concerned stakeholders and will continue to foster the emergence of projects with a high potential for economic and environmental benefits.
Newfoundland and Labrador
Feds step into the quiet energy conflict bubbling in Atlantic Canada
The federal government is cutting Newfoundland and Labrador out of its East Coast power grid megaproject, giving Quebec an edge over its East Coast competitor as both provinces’ utilities seek to expand business beyond their borders. To phase out coal-fired electricity by 2030, as the federal government has promised, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick plan to import renewable energy from outside their borders. When the Atlantic Loop proposal was first announced, the idea was to build a regional power grid capable of moving huge amounts of hydro power from Quebec and Newfoundland and Labrador into the Maritimes to displace coal. But without sufficient and reliable transmission infrastructure to send power outside of Newfoundland and Labrador, the province is less likely to factor into Atlantic Canada’s decarbonization plans.
Source: National Observer
Electrical utility slapped with $10M fine over missed renewable energy goal — but province has part to play in energy transition, too, says expert
The Nova Scotia government has handed the maximum possible fine to its privately owned electrical utility for missing a renewable energy target: $10 million. However, one energy policy expert says the utility isn’t the only player in the energy transition and the province bears some responsibility for the level of renewable energy in Nova Scotia. The utility, Nova Scotia Power (NSP), was mandated to provide 40 per cent of its electricity from renewable sources by 2022 but only hit around 32 per cent renewables between 2020 and 2022. Patricia Jreige, a spokesperson for the province’s Department of Natural Resources and Renewables, said the fine will be taken from shareholders rather than ratepayers. The fine comes in tandem with an ongoing struggle to import hydropower into the province. After missing its 2020 goal, NSP blamed the delayed Muskrat Falls hydro project in Labrador, which is now waiting for a commission date from the federal government after finishing necessary work and testing last week, for failing to provide the power it was counting on.
Source: National Observer
Nunavut power rates rising 19 percent
Qulliq Energy Corp. says it has been authorized by the territorial government to raise its base rates by 18.9 per cent for all customer classes effective April 1, meaning customers will see the increase on their April power bills. But most homeowners will see only a modest increase, according to Qulliq Energy spokesman Eddie Rideout. The 18.9 per cent rate hike will replace a six per cent interim increase that came into effect in October, so residential customers should see a net increase of just 2 1/2 per cent, according to Qulliq Energy. The Nunavut government is giving Qulliq Energy a cash infusion to balance its books this year, so it won’t have to recoup the revenue shortfall from customers, according to officials.
Source: The Electricity Forum
Yellowknife emerging as EV metals hub
The Northwest Territories capital city of Yellowknife is emerging as a northern link in North America’s electric vehicle supply chain. Already home to Canada’s only rare earths mine, a 160-kilometers (100 miles) area around this northern mining town happens to be enriched with the lithium and cobalt that is in massive demand for EV batteries, along with numerous other minerals critical to both Canada and the United States. With soaring demand driving the price of lithium to stratospheric levels, a group of battery metals-focused junior mining companies are investing millions of dollars this year to explore the distinctive white pegmatites that can be seen when flying over the Yellowknife Pegmatite Province. Together, the rare earths, lithium, and cobalt projects surrounding Yellowknife could provide North American manufacturers with an alternative to China for many of the minerals critical to EVs, green energy, high-tech, military hardware, and consumer goods. With the northern end of North America’s rail system extending to the community of Hay River on the south shores of Great Slave Lake, very little infrastructure is needed to connect the critical mineral projects around Yellowknife to North America’s supply chains.
Source: North of 60 Mining News
Yukon Energy adding five more diesel generators
Yukon Energy Corporation will rent five additional diesel generators this fiscal year, bringing the total in the territory to 22. John Streicker, the minister responsible for the corporation, gave two reasons for the new rentals. He said supply chain problems have delayed the corporation’s replacement of two permanent generators in Faro, meaning rentals are needed until the replacements can be procured. The rentals are also needed because the required amount of backup power has increased. That backup power is at the ready should the Aishihik dam or transmission line to Whitehorse go offline. That plan states the need for power is growing in the Yukon, with a gap between peak demand and dependable supply. Right now, the latter comes from sources like hydro, liquefied natural gas, diesel and thermal. The gap has been bridged by renting diesel generators. In the coming years, the plan is to fill that gap with battery storage, buying power from the Atlin Hydro Expansion Project and the Moon Lake pumped storage project. Programs to get people conserving power would also help close the difference.