Affordable Energy News for Monday, May 29

Affordable Energy News for Monday, May 29

5 things you need to know about Andrew Scheer’s economic policies

Andrew Scheer is the new leader of the Conservative Party of Canada. The Saskatchewan MP and former Speaker of the House of Commons has been relatively quiet about his policy priorities in the past, but now Canadians can expect him to be more vocal about his views. Scheer took direct aim at the federal carbon tax legislation Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s governing Liberals plan to put in effect starting next year. He also implicitly endorsed the $15-billion Energy East pipeline. – BNN


Ottawa won’t impose threshold on electric vehicles

Ottawa has appointed an advisory group to develop a plan for getting more zero-emission vehicles on the road, but it won’t follow Quebec in requiring automakers to sell a minimum number of electric cars, Transport Minister Marc Garneau said Friday. “We just decided that instead of giving ourselves a specific number what we would do is try to make the conditions more favourable for people to buy zero-emissions vehicles,” he said in an interview at an electric vehicle show. – The Chronicle Herald


Everything you wanted to know but were afraid to ask about the National Energy Board hearings

Federal Natural Resources Minister Jim Carr was in New Brunswick on Friday and found himself defending the National Energy Board's review of the controversial Energy East project. The existing NEB law requires the board to look at technical and safety issues and to only hear from people and groups directly affected by a project. Though the Liberals opted to stick with that process for Energy East, they also asked the NEB to add "enhanced engagement opportunities," a second set of consultations that will give Canadians left out of the formal hearings a chance to take part in separate public sessions. – CBC News New Brunswick


‘Get rid of it’: Canadian Taxpayers Federation respond to carbon tax

The federal government has only one option for its carbon tax according to the Canadian Taxpayers Federation: get rid of it. – CKRM The Source


New rules aim to cut methane admissions in oil, gas sector

The Globe and Mail


Hydro Rate hikes should come with plan to help low-income customers, Green Action Centre says

An environmental group says if Manitoba Hydro wants to increase its rates, the utility needs to have a plan to help low-income people deal with the higher price tag. In a submission to the Public Utility Board, the Green Action Centre says Manitoba Hydro might have to increase rates to cover its significant expenditures, but calls on the utility to come up with an affordability strategy to accompany the hikes. The Crown corporation has asked the Public Utility Board if it can raise rates by 7.9 per cent this year and next, with the new prices coming into effect Aug. 1, 2017 and then April 1, 2018. – CBC News


Marin: Ontario energy sector in shambles thanks to McGuinty-Wynne duo

For decades to come, former Premier Dalton McGuinty and Premier Kathleen Wynne will be a case study in political science and public administration university courses across Canada — but for the wrong reasons. Both will be studied for how to impoverish a provincial economy by making ideologically-driven electricity policies, devoid of any planning and logic. – Toronto Sun


Wangersky: Electricity rates have nowhere to go but up

Maybe you let out a sigh of relief when, a week or so ago, a proposed 18.6 per cent electrical rate increase didn’t fully appear. After moving cash around at the direction of the Public Utilities Board, Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro was able to move the anticipated rate increase for individual customers down from 18.6 to around 8.5 per cent. The simple fact is that Hydro, when asked to mitigate that 18.6 per cent rate increase, pointed out that more increases are coming. – The Telegram


White Rose extension sanctioned; first oil projected for 2022

Newfoundland Premier Dwight Ball and Husky Energy announced sanctioning of a new multibillion-dollar oil project this morning; the White Rose extension. The deal will see a new wellhead platform constructed in Newfoundland and Labrador. Natural Resources Minister Siobhan Coady said the deal creates "outstanding benefits to the province." It could create between $3 billion and $4 billion in royalties and taxes for the province. There will be 10 million person-hours of employment, with engineering and construction. – The Telegram


Editorial: This hydro bill relief will come as a shock

If the Liberals' misnamed Fair Hydro Plan sounds like a slick scheme concocted to get them re-elected, that's because to a large degree it is. Yes, we know Ontarians were begging for relief from constantly soaring hydro bills, and that many consumers are cheering Premier Kathleen Wynne's plan to slash hydro rates by 25% this year and then limit increases to the inflation rate for the next four years. But as the province's financial watchdog reported last week, the cost of insulating Ontarians from soaring energy bills will eventually shock them to the tips of their toes. – The Spectator


The oil industry is starting to rebound – but where are the workers?

Last week, Todd Shirley posted a wanted advertisement in the paper. He was looking to hire truck drivers for his oilfield hauling business, Bert Baxter Transport in Estevan, but since then not a single person has applied. “I’m hoping it gets a lot better. When you need guys, you need guys. But everybody’s in the same boat,” he said. Before price of oil dropped in 2014 leading to massive job cuts, Shirley always had a stream of people coming through his doors looking for work. Now, as the industry is starting to rebound the story has changed. Across the board oil companies are facing the same problems. – Regina Leader Post


Saskatchewan economy expected to emerge out of recession in 2017

The Conference Board of Canada says Saskatchewan will likely help lead the country in economic growth this year. A stronger mining sector, along with oil projects continuing to push ahead, means the board believes the economy will grow by 2.5 per cent in 2017, the second highest in the country. "Saskatchewan's economy is on a more solid foundation than it was one year ago," read a release. "The energy outlook is more positive as drilling bounced back last winter and oil production is expected to increase at a good pace over the near term." New Husky Energy plants will create 90 permanent, 500 construction jobs. – CBC News


Sudbury MPP defends hydro rates

Ontario Energy Minister Glenn Thibeault said Friday he is ready and willing to face Ontario voters next year over the issue of soaring hydro rates because rebuilding Ontario's electrical system is something that had to be done. "When it comes to long term energy pricing, right now we are working hard on the 2017 long term energy plan," said Thibeault. – The Sudbury Star


Anti-pipeline protesters finish 75-km walk at Kinder Morgan in Burnaby

Emotions ran high at the culmination of an indigenous-led four-day, 75-kilometre walk to protest the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain pipeline expansion on Sunday. Several hundred protesters joined the walk on Sunday with a 10-kilometre march from Grandview Park, along Commercial Drive and Hastings. – Vancouver Sun


Leakproof pipeline design created by University of Calgary researchers

In a basement laboratory at the University of Calgary, a pair of researchers say they have a solution to one of the key problems facing the oil and gas pipeline industry—spills. The researchers say their system, which combines real-time monitoring and an outer layer around a pipeline, would better protect the environment and save the reputation of the industry by eliminating leaks—though it would come at a higher cost. – CBC News


Advocates seek gas line into rural area

Frank Borghoff feels optimistic that he will succeed in his drive to get a natural gas line to come out of his village and hook up homeowners and businesses to a cheaper form of energy. Brant County council has agreed to Borghoff’s request to have Mayor Ron Eddy pen a letter to Union Gas expressing its support. “This is going to benefit a lot of homeowners and small businesses with their heating bills,” Borghoff said in an interview after the meeting. “The average small businesses can’t afford oil heating anymore. It’s too darned expensive. When you’re heating with oil, once you hook up with natural gas your cost will go down 60 per cent.” Some people are burning wood to heat their homes. The only reason is that oil is so expensive, he said. – Brantford Expositor


United States 

G7 leaders agree to fight protectionism, but U.S. hedges on Paris Agreement

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is calling the G7 summit in Taormina, Italy, a success, even as U.S. President Donald Trump refused to join the other leaders on committing to implementing that Paris Agreement. – The Chronicle Herald


The death of diesel could be closer than you think as dirty accusations mount

Issues with diesel that started almost two years ago with the emissions scandal at Volkswagen AG just keep rolling on and on. With General Motors Co. now confronting a class-action lawsuit over 700,000 diesel trucks, there’s growing sense across the auto industry that the days of diesel cars are numbered, at least in the United States. GM calls the allegations of emission-test cheating baseless and the lawsuit stops short of claiming a breach of clean-air regulations. – Bloomberg News


Oil prices softer in Asia after choppy trade following OPEC agreement

Oil prices came off the boil on Monday following a week of big moves as OPEC (Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries) members agreed last Thursday to extend production cuts to March of next year to address a global supply glut. Brent crude, the international benchmark, was down 0.2 per cent at $52.05 a barrel, while West Texas Intermediate was down 0.2 per cent at $49.68. Trading on Friday was choppy, before Brent closed 1.4 per cent higher and recovered from a 4.6 per cent drop in the previous session when traders “sold the fact” upon the signing of the OPEC agreement. Still, the energy sectors of the Topix and Hang Seng were among the worst performing sectors in Japan and Hong Kong. – Financial Times


United Kingdom

Global carbon prices must soar to meet Paris climate target: report

The cost of emitting carbon dioxide must rise to US$50-to-US$100 per tonne by 2030, much higher than the current price in Europe of less than US$6, if countries are to meet climate pledges made under the Paris Agreement, economists said on Monday. – Reuters


UK lobbies Europe to dilute flagship energy efficiency law

The UK is lobbying Europe to water down a key energy-saving target despite the fact it will not take effect until after Brexit, according to leaked documents that sparked warnings that energy bills could rise and jobs put at risk. On the day Theresa May triggered article 50, government officials asked the European commission to weaken or drop elements of its flagship energy efficiency law. The UK is also pushing to drop an obligation on suppliers – including the big six of British Gas, EDF (Electricite de France), E.ON, Npower, SSE and ScottishPower – to cut the amount of energy they sell during the next decade. – The Gazette



Australia can play a big role in safer, cheap nuclear development

A quiet revolution of innovators and entrepreneurs is working on the next generation of nuclear reactors, which won’t look like the gigantic light-water models of the 1970s and won’t be built by the same companies or in the same countries. Other energy generators, such as wind turbines and solar panels have fallen in price because they are mass-produced like cars or planes. Yet nuclear is still built as large, one-off infrastructure projects. For this reason, nuclear projects are famously over-budget and behind schedule. Building modular reactors in factories makes a significant cost difference, but advanced reactors offer other benefits needed by modern energy markets. New nuclear designs can be better at load-following, ideal for balancing grids that increasingly use variable renewable sources like wind and solar. – The Australian


Alan Finkel's report won't stop the bickering over energy policy

Austrlia’s Environment and Energy Minister Josh Frydenberg told the Australian Financial Review, "It's time the states recognise that some of their policy settings have compromised energy security and affordability." The Coalition will not back any proposal that can be described as a price or tax on carbon. A party furore erupted late last year when Australia’s Chief Scientist, Dr. Alan Finkel, drafted a report suggesting the notion of an emissions intensity scheme, which effectively taxes higher carbon emissions above a certain benchmark. Malcolm Turnbull was forced to rule out any such option to quell an internal insurrection. Instead, the political conceit remains that it's possible to produce the policy trifecta of more affordable, more reliable and cleaner energy as such goals often pull in opposite directions. – Australian Financial Review


Feds still rule out power emissions scheme

The Australian government has again ruled out making dirty power stations pay for carbon emissions, less than a fortnight before it gets an expert report on the electricity market. Energy Minister Josh Frydenberg says any prospect of imposing an emissions intensity scheme on the power sector was "certainly off" as far as the government was concerned. – The Australian


Tariff axing could lower household electricity bills

The McGowan Government is considering lowering electricity bills for households in Perth by abolishing a little-known levy. Western Australia Council of Social Service chief executive Louise Giolitto confirmed she had held discussions with Treasurer Ben Wyatt about scrapping the Tariff Equalisation Contribution (TEC). “What we argue is that the tariff impacts disproportionally on lower-income households who spend a greater proportion of their income on energy, which is why we object to it,” Ms. Giolitto said. As Opposition leader in 2012, Mr. McGowan said abolishing the policy would slash electricity bills in the SWIS by 7%, saving each household $111. – Perth Now