Affordable Energy News for Tuesday, May 23

Affordable Energy News for Tuesday, May 23

 Andrew Coyne: The federal carbon tax has become unnecessarily costly

Like much else the Trudeau Government touches, the carbon tax started out as a simple idea that has grown steadily more complex. Rather than implement a carbon tax as a substitute for other, costlier approaches, the Liberals have simply loaded it on top of the existing regulatory and subsidy pile. – National Post


Trudeau questioned on carbon tax during stop in Edmonton

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was asked about his government's ultimatum that all provinces put a price on carbon dioxide emissions by 2018. Trudeau defended his government's plans, saying putting a price on carbon pollution is something "everyone can understand" because it targets pollution and reduces the risk of global warming. Alberta Progressive Conservative Party leader Jason Kenney campaigned for his current job on a promise to eliminate the province’s newly implemented carbon tax. – CBC News


Editorial: Time to clear air on carbon pricing

It’s not easy being green. But if you are, asserts Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister, you deserve a little bit of extra credit. In response to last week’s introduction of a technical paper on carbon pricing by the federal Liberal government, Mr. Pallister suggested there ought to be some flexibility in the minimum $10-per-tonne price on carbon that will be required of all provinces next year. And given Manitoba’s enormous investment in environmentally friendly hydroelectric power, he added, that flexibility should include extra consideration for this province’s green-minded ambitions. – Winnipeg Free Press


Dylan Heerema: Electric heat pumps have advantages over gas furnaces

What’s the real cost of heating your home in British Columbia with natural gas or electricity? There has been much public discussion lately on the relative affordability of these two energy sources. We ran the numbers for a fairly efficient home in the Lower Mainland and found that gas heating and electric heating can come with similar costs. It’s not always easy to separate the energy used to heat your home from that used to power lights and appliances, heat water and charge electronics. For example, there are two different electricity rates (or tiers) charged by your utility. You can see how it might be difficult to understand the costs and benefits of different heating options.  – The Province


No formal talks for 'energy transactions' with Nova Scotia, says Nalcor

Nalcor Energy says it has not yet engaged in formal discussions with Emera about moving energy between Newfoundland and Labrador and Nova Scotia, but says all options are being considered as construction on the Maritime Link and the Muskrat Falls project continues. It's being built to carry electricity generated at the 824-megawatt hydroelectric project at Muskrat Falls in Labrador to Nova Scotia, but some big questions remain unanswered. Muskrat Falls is behind schedule and is not expected to reach full generation until sometime in 2020, according to a Nalcor official. – CBC News


United States 

Oil Pulls Back After U.S. Proposal to Sell Stocks

Oil prices eased off a more than one-month high on Tuesday, with the U.S. plan to sell some of its stocks contributing to the pullback and offsetting investors’ optimism that the coming OPEC meeting of major producers would result in more production cuts. – CBC News


Shell CEO says climate change is real, but energy demand growth is ‘unstoppable’

The threat of climate change is real and action is needed, says Ben van Beurden, the chief executive of Royal Dutch Shell. It’s been a turbulent couple of years for the Shell chief executive. Van Beurden has been reorienting Shell, placing more emphasis on natural gas and less on oil, based on the theory that as climate concerns grow companies will favour gas because of its lower carbon dioxide emissions. Last year Shell made a $53-billion acquisition of BG Group, which is big in the growing liquefied natural gas market. At the same time, van Beurden has abandoned some of Royal Dutch Shell’s high-profile oil ventures.  – The Washington Post


United Kingdom

What’s driving the fall in UK energy demand and can it last?

Over the last ten years, UK energy consumption decreased by 14% on both an actual and temperature corrected basis. This is despite the population of the UK growing by over ten million people (18.7%) since 1964, with half of this growth occurring since 2001. Energy prices have encouraged efficiency. Furthermore, there has been an economic decline due to the 2008 financial crisis which has slowed industrial users. “A lot the larger energy users have gone,” says Jim Cardwell from Northern Powergrid. “People might be using more domestically but not industrially.” – Power-Technology


Trump may 'surprise' on climate: Gore

U.S. President Donald Trump may "surprise" people when it comes to acting on climate change, says former vice president and environmental crusader Al Gore. "I do believe there is a better than even chance that [Trump] will surprise many by keeping the U.S. in the Paris Agreement, I don't know that he will but there's a chance he will," Gore said on the sidelines at Cannes on Monday. Australia ratified the Paris Agreement last November, and is committed to bringing down emissions to 26 to 28 per cent on 2005 levels by 2030. – The Australian


World could put carbon tax on U.S. imports if Donald Trump ditches Paris Agreement, says expert

A U.S. withdrawal from the Paris Agreement would create “positive opportunities” such as a carbon tax on American imports. However, writing in the journal Nature Climate Change, Dr Luke Kemp, an expert in climate policy at the Australian National University, argues that this outcome might not be as bad as if the U.S. remained a signatory but failed to live up to its commitments. This would provide cover for other “laggards” to backslide. – Independent UK 



‘Kneejerk’ government investment to push electricity prices higher

Urgent changes to electricity market rules are needed to reduce the risk of power blackouts and restrictions across southeastern Australia next summer, a Grattan Institute report says. Market reform, rather than “knee-jerk” government investment that would push electricity prices higher, was the best path to restoring confidence in the national electricity market, the report said. “We should not give up on the market, because if governments take matters fully into their own hands, the results are likely to be painful: customers will pay more for their electricity, supply could become even less reliable, and Australia still may not achieve the emissions reductions required.”  – The Australian


This year will determine if Australia still believes in energy markets

Since the 1990s, Australian governments have supported energy markets as the best way to deliver reliable and affordable electricity. Integrating climate-change and energy policies to manage an inevitable transition to a low-emissions future is now the challenge. The transition from fossil fuels to decentralised electricity such as wind and solar is well underway. In Australia this has been primarily driven, not by efficient climate change polices but by a grab-bag of subsidies to support renewable energy. The subsequent failure to integrate intermittent supply sources into the existing system hastened coal plant shutdowns and led to power outages and a greater dependence on gas plants just at a time when gas prices more than doubled. The result is higher and rising electricity prices along with serious and growing concerns about the security of supply. – The Australian Financial Review


Land management changes the low-cost way to cut emissions

Australia could meet a 2C warming target under the Paris Agreement at no cost to business using actions that saved money over the long term, a study by advisory firm RepuTex found. New modelling showed there would be about 600 million tonnes of emissions reductions available across the economy by 2030. The research has been released as the government faces pressure to increase funding for its Direct Action program. A major carbon-focused business lobby, the Climate Market Institute, said an extra $200 million a year in federal government funding was needed to support Direct Action land carbon auctions until the program could be expanded to include the private sector. – The Australian


Adani baulks on mine as Labor brawls

Queensland Energy Minister Mark Bailey has repeatedly refused to state his personal support for Adani’s $16.5-billion Carmichael coal mine. Giant Indian conglomerate Adani indefinitely postponed a final investment decision on the mining project, in the Galilee Basin in central Queensland, after the divided Queensland Cabinet failed to make a decision on royalties for the proposal. Bailey’s Left faction colleague — Minister for Women Shannon Fentiman — was more forthcoming with qualified personal support. “I hope the project goes ahead for the jobs that it will bring for north Queensland, as long as it meets all its environmental standards and the project stacks up on its own,” she said.  – The Australian



China flags reform for state energy giants

In an effort to make its bloated state-owned energy sector more competitive, China says it will inject more private investment into its oil-and-gas enterprises and consider cutting the industry’s vast workforces. The reform blueprint for the oil-and-gas industry, reported late on Sunday by the official Xinhua News Agency, aims to make China’s energy companies more efficient as they struggle with low prices and a slowing economy. – The Australian