Energy Market Update: April 2021

Alberta 

What a made-in-Alberta carbon pricing plan could look like — and how it could impact the province

It has been four weeks since Canada’s top court ruled against Alberta and deemed the carbon tax constitutional. That means the federal backstop plan is here to stay, for now. Under that plan, an Alberta family of four will get $981 back on their 2020 income taxes, and for most, that will be more than they paid through the carbon tax last year. Alberta can choose to stick with that or come up with a plan of its own that will create the same level of incentive to reduce emissions. Premier Jason Kenney has promised a course of action that will minimize the cost to Albertans’ wallets and the economy. Paul Hamnett, press secretary for Environment and Parks Minister Jason Nixon, said the government will seek feedback from Albertans “in the coming weeks” on their preferred approach to carbon pricing. University of Alberta economist Andrew Leach — one of the architects of the Alberta NDP’s carbon tax, which Kenney scrapped immediately after taking power — said he expects Kenney to stick with the federal backstop program, pointing out he promised not to introduce a tax without a referendum. Source: Edmonton Journal

Electricity Prices for Alberta

The Alberta power pool price averaged 8.57 cents per kWh in April 2021. This price is 1.882 cents higher than last month’s average. The pool price has averaged 5.898 cents per kWh over the last 12 months.

Gas Prices for Alberta

Direct Energy’s gas rate for April 2021 was $2.603 per GJ in Alberta. The May 2021 rate has been set at $3.293 per GJ. Alberta gas prices have averaged $2.629 per GJ over the last 12 months.

As of May 3, 2021, the forward market was predicting gas prices for the calendar years of 2021, 2022, 2023, 2024, 2025, and 2026. These prices are 2.84, 2.46, 2.28, 2.33, 2.36, and 2.56 cents per GJ respectively.

 

British Columbia 

Lack of charging stations in B.C. condos impeding use and purchase of electric vehicles

Drivers in British Columbia are keener than ever to buy electric vehicles, but the lack of charging stations in condo buildings is a major impediment. That is one of the findings of a report that was discussed at the Metro Vancouver Climate Action Committee on Friday. The report found that, although adoption of electric vehicles is key for the region to reduce its carbon emissions, there currently is not enough infrastructure in multi-residential buildings to support drivers wanting to charge them at home. British Columbia is aiming to have all personal vehicles on the road be electric by 2040. Electric vehicles are selling in record numbers in the province, and a recent survey from KPMG suggests that 68 per cent of Canadians who plan to buy a new vehicle in the next five years are likely to buy electric. Source: CBC News

 

Ontario 

Highway 413 locks Ontario into a high-carbon future, says Environmental Defence

An environmental group is calling a controversial plan to build a 400-series highway through the northwestern GTA a “sprawl accelerator” that would drive Ontario even further away from its climate targets. Research released Wednesday by Environmental Defence suggests that if Highway 413 is built, it could lead to 17.4 million extra tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions from vehicles by 2050. A decades-old idea that was abandoned by Kathleen Wynne’s government and then resurrected under Premier Doug Ford, Highway 413 has been the target of significant criticism in the region. A number of councils, including Toronto, Mississauga, Orangeville, and Halton Hills, have all passed motions voicing their opposition. The province, meanwhile, has maintained that the highway is necessary to serve a rapidly growing population and take the pressure off congested roads. An environmental group is calling a controversial plan to build a 400-series highway through the northwestern GTA a “sprawl accelerator” that would drive Ontario even further away from its climate targets. Sarah Buchanan, the group’s Ontario climate program manager, described a concept known as “induced demand” or “induced traffic: “When you build new highway infrastructure, more people simply decide to drive and fill up that road space.” Source: CBC News

Electricity Prices for Ontario

The Hourly Ontario Energy Price (HOEP) was an average of 0.852 cents per kWh in April 2021. This price is 0.855 cents lower than last month’s 1.707 cents per kWh. The twelve month moving average was 1.495 cents per kWh up to April 2021.

The Actual Rate for the Global Adjustment rate Class B for March 2021 was set at 9.08 cents per kWh. The Global Adjustment is an additional charge paid by non-regulated customers. (Source: IESO)

 

Saskatchewan

Carbon pricing is here to stay in Sask. So how should the province use the money?

Following the Supreme Court’s decision to uphold the federal carbon price, Premier Moe stated that Saskatchewan will create its own carbon pricing plan. Premier Moe’s first suggestion was that revenues would be used to reduce fuel taxes at the pump. Federal Minister of Environment Jonathan Wilkinson quickly poured cold water on that idea. So how should Saskatchewan use the money it gets from carbon pricing? There are lots of options. Four ways of recycling carbon pricing revenues back to households: 1. Focus rebates only on households below a certain income threshold (“Targeted Rebate to Low- and Middle-Income Residents”). 2. Provide a rebate payment based on the number of people in a household, similar to the federal system (“Rebate to all Residents”). 3. Lower the provincial sales tax (“PST Cut”). 4. Increase the personal income tax basic exemption, the minimum income exempt from personal income taxes (“Increase to Income Tax Basic Exemption”).  Source: CBC News

 

Manitoba 

Office Buildings Make Major Energy Efficiency Strides with Manitoba Race to Reduce!

Commercial office spaces in Winnipeg and Brandon reduced their overall energy consumption by 9.1 percent thanks to their participation in Manitoba Race to Reduce. Modeled after a similar program launched in Toronto, Manitoba Race to Reduce was a four-year challenge that encouraged commercial buildings to reduce energy usage through friendly and spirited competition. The Race was free to join and open to all landlords, tenants and owners of commercial office buildings across Manitoba. Launched in 2017, a total of 32 buildings across 7.5 million square feet of commercial office space rose to the challenge and joined the Race. The program guided participants with expert advice, tool kits, case studies, and action plans. Supported by these resources, organizations saw an increased awareness of energy use at work and a way to measure and monitor their usage to drive energy savings. The final award ceremony took place on April 29, 2021 as a virtual event. Source: Winnipeg Free Press

 

New Brunswick 

New Brunswick finalizes carbon tax details with Ottawa for largest emitters

The New Brunswick and federal governments have sorted out details on when the province’s largest fossil fuel emitters will switch from paying the federal carbon price to paying the provincial version. The Higgs government’s levy will apply to them retroactive to Jan. 1 of this year, handing them a big break in 2021 compared to their federal carbon tax bills for 2019 and 2020. The New Brunswick system looks at each industrial facility and measures whether it is reducing its emissions intensity —the amount of greenhouse gas produced per log, barrel of gasoline or roll of toilet paper, for example. In 2021, the plants must reduce that emissions intensity by one per cent. If they fall short, they pay. If they surpass the target, they earn a credit. The threshold will rise by one percentage point every year until it reaches 10 per cent in 2030, still far below the federal system’s threshold of 20 per cent in effect now. The goal is for emissions to be 30 per cent below 2005 levels. According to new federal data, they were already at 38 per cent below that level in 2019. Source: CBC News

 

Prince Edward Island 

P.E.I. environment minister open to idea of climate change bonds

P.E.I. Environment Minister Steven Myers says he is interested in exploring the idea of creating climate change bonds, to let Islanders put their investment dollars into green projects. The idea was raised by Liberal MLA Heath MacDonald. “This would be an opportunity for government to allow Islanders to be a partner in climate change,” said MacDonald. “It’s a little bit of being innovative but allowing Islanders to feel like they are actually contributing in more ways than one.” MacDonald suggested the money could go toward projects such as Island-wide transit, or hydroelectricity or solar projects. Source: CBC News

 

Québec 

Québec approves the Appalaches-Maine Interconnection Line project

The government of Québec has given the green light to the Appalaches–Maine Interconnection Line project. This decision follows a 20-month environmental assessment process and a sustained collaborative effort between Hydro-Québec and local communities. Once completed, the new interconnection will increase the exchange capacity between Québec and New England by 1,200 megawatts (MW). The clean and renewable energy provided to Maine and Massachusetts will help avoid over 3 million metric tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions annually – the equivalent of taking 700,000 vehicles off the roads. The project will generate regional economic spinoffs between $50 and $80 million. Source: Hydro Quebec News

 

Newfoundland and Labrador 

Liberals target ‘unnecessarily generous’ bonuses for Nalcor execs in new bill

Bonuses at Crown-owned Nalcor Energy that sparked a political outrage in Newfoundland and Labrador, particularly amid a worsening fiscal crisis, are about to become a thing of the past. The Liberal government has introduced legislative changes that will allow the provincial government to have final say on matters such as compensation and terms of service for non-unionized employees at Nalcor and its subsidiaries, including Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro. Currently, the Energy Corporation Act and the Hydro Act give full authority to the boards of directors on these matters, but that will end by as early as Friday. The proposed amendments will be debated this week in the House of Assembly. Bonuses have been standard practice at Nalcor, and have been paid out even as the Muskrat Falls project spiralled out of control. In 2019, for example, Nalcor CEO Stan Marshall received a $315,000 bonus on top of an almost $460,000 salary. Source: CBC News

 

Nova Scotia 

Homeowners say Efficiency NS recommended company that botched solar panel installation

When Sarah D’Apollonia and her partner decided to renovate a rundown property in Dartmouth, they immediately knew this was their opportunity to invest in solar panels. But two years after their system was installed, D’Apollonia said it has been nothing but a nightmare that may cost the family more to fix than they paid to install it in the first place. The problems have left D’Apollonia questioning who is responsible — the installer, or Efficiency Nova Scotia. That’s because in order to qualify for thousands of dollars in provincial rebates, she had to choose an installer on Efficiency Nova Scotia’s list. D’Apollonia isn’t alone. CBC News has heard from three other customers who chose East Coast Solar who are all struggling to get help with their systems. Each told similar stories of questionable installation practices and faulty grids that have left them wondering where to turn. Efficiency Nova Scotia is operated by EfficiencyOne, an independent non-profit. The province’s utility and review board provides regulatory oversight. Janet Tobin, a spokesperson for Efficiency Nova Scotia, said they’ll work with the homeowners on a case-by-case basis to see what can be done, but didn’t specify what the solutions may be. While the rebate program requires customers to use an approved installer, it also includes a disclaimer that Efficiency Nova Scotia is not liable if something goes wrong.  Source: CBC News

 

Nunavut 

Wind energy coming to Sanikiluaq

A $13 million wind turbine array could be up and running in Sanikiluaq, Nunavut, as early as the winter of 2023. This week, Natural Resources Canada announced it’s investing $6.5 million in the project, led by the Qikiqtaaluk Business Development Corporation (QBDC). Sheldon Nimchuk, QBDC’s director of project development and partnerships, says the federal government is willing to support these kinds of projects right now, which makes this the perfect time to be investing in clean energy projects. The project has been in the works for some time, he says, starting with a wind monitoring project that saw a meteorological evaluation tower set up in the hamlet several years ago. The plan is to erect 10 wind turbines that will together cut the amount of diesel fuel the hamlet burns for power in half.  Source: CBC News

 

Northwest Territories

Wastewater sampled in Yellowknife signals undetected COVID-19

Anyone in Yellowknife who is in any stage of a self-isolation or self-monitoring period after entering the N.W.T. should get tested for COVID-19, even without symptoms, says the Northwest Territories Office of the Chief Public Health Officer. The request comes as wastewater samples analyzed in Yellowknife last week between April 14-17 signaled undetected COVID-19, according to a news release Monday evening. The Office of the Chief Public Health Officer (OCPHO) says it is “confident” that the positive signal means at least one undetected case of COVID-19 in Yellowknife. Source: CBC News

 

Yukon 

Vuntut Gwitchin First Nation’s solar farm now generating electricity

There will be something noticeably different in Old Crow, Yukon, in a few months. The hum of diesel engines will be gone. For the first time in 50 years there will be silence. Vuntut Gwitchin First Nation’s solar farm is now generating electricity. In July, the array will be fully operational, capable of meeting the community’s needs, to the degree diesel generators — some of which date back to the 1970s — will be powered down on sunny days. Leaders with the First Nation say the farm will displace 190,000 litres of diesel fuel every year, or 750 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions. That represents a roughly 25 per cent annual reduction in diesel fuel use. Source: CBC News