Affordable Energy News for Thursday, May 18

Affordable Energy News for Thursday, May 18

Greens will fight Trans Mountain pipeline, calls Liberals “reckless”

Green Leader Andrew Weaver says they believe it's their responsibility with their increased political clout in the provincial legislature to stop the federally-approved Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain pipeline project that would triple the shipment capacity of Alberta oil products to British Columbia's coast. Weaver says the Greens will seek intervener status to support mounting legal challenges by First Nations and municipalities opposed to the project. He called B.C. Premier Christy Clark's support for the project reckless. – Global News


More twists ahead for Trans Mountain as B.C. Green leader pledges to fight project

Alberta was granted intervener status this week in the legal fracas over approval of Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain pipeline expansion. Now, British Columbia’s Green Party Leader Andrew Weaver wants to do the same — but from the opposition camp. If Weaver’s comments to reporters Wednesday are any indication, it looks like Alberta will be facing an empowered pipeline opponent next door, one who wants to use his new-found political leverage to derail the $7.4-billion project. The Trans Mountain expansion, which would triple the amount of Alberta oil that would move to the Pacific coast, continues to serve as a political lightning rod in the country for pro- and anti-oilsands forces. – Calgary Herald


‘How do I lie down in front of the bulldozers?’ Kinder Morgan faces emboldened activists in post-vote B.C.

British Columbia could become a minefield for Kinder Morgan with the recent provincial election results expected to weigh on the U.S. company’s Trans Mountain pipeline expansion. The Canadian province’s pro-energy B.C. Liberals won the election but lost its majority, forcing it to woo the environmentalist Green Party to govern, potentially making concessions. In the worst scenario for the Liberals, the Greens could form their own majority government with the second-place New Democrats, who also oppose Trans Mountain. While final electoral results can change with the compiling of absentee votes and recounts, to be done by May 24, a provincial government unfriendly to development could mean major obstacles to Trans Mountain, even with federal approval on its side. – Reuters


Forcing Trans Mountain through could make things ugly for Trudeau. Not building it might be worse

In the aftermath of the B.C. election, everyone is talking about the coming confrontation over Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain pipeline. Given federal approval just last November the project suddenly must contend a probable minority government that is propped up by the pipeline-hating Greens. So, the first rumblings of using the federal declaratory power are sounding (giving Parliament the power to override the provinces). What almost no one is talking about are the consequences of not invoking it — therefore of allowing the pipeline to be blocked. For Alberta to be told that it cannot bring its product to market would be incendiary enough. For the federal government, though it has the power to prevent this, to shrug instead and give up could only make things worse. For it would have done so having assured Albertans, in concert with the province’s NDP government, that pipeline approval was the deal for accepting a carbon tax. – National Post


Ottawa to explain how it will impose a carbon tax on provinces today

Provinces have until the end of 2018 to introduce a price on carbon or Ottawa will impose its own model instead, a technical paper on the federal carbon-pricing scheme will say today. Environment Minister Catherine McKenna will make public the paper, which proposes to give provinces three options for pricing carbon: legislate their own levy on emissions starting at $10 a tonne, legislate their own cap-and-trade system which can show it will produce equivalent cuts in emissions as a carbon tax, or use a hybrid model largely based on Alberta’s program which Ottawa will impose. – The Chronicle Herald


Federal carbon tax plan expected today

Provinces have until the end of 2018 to introduce a price on carbon or Ottawa will impose its own model says a technical paper on the federal carbon-pricing scheme to be released today. The carbon tax, or cap-and-trade equivalent, will have to go up by $10 a year, rising to $50 a tonne by the end of 2022. Environment Minister Catherine McKenna will accept public comments on the paper and intends to introduce legislation in the fall. – The Hamilton Spectator


Political briefing newsletter: Liberals to unveil carbon pricing plan

Globe and Mail


Federal Environment Minister pitching carbon plan for Saskatchewan

The federal government is revealing more details about the carbon pricing plan it will impose on Saskatchewan if the province doesn’t create its own levy. Premier Brad Wall’s Saskatchewan Party government is refusing to introduce a plan, despite the federal Liberal’s announcement they will establish a “floor price” of $10 a tonne on carbon pollution in 2018, with the price rising to $50 by 2022. – Regina Leader Post


1,000 signature petition against carbon tax delivered to Environment Minister

The Regina chapter of the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) has given the Saskatchewan Party a one-thousand signature petition siding with the province against a potential federally imposed carbon tax. The CFIB’s Marilyn Braun-Pollon says with added taxation in other forms, measures which would create what she calls an unfair disadvantage to neighbouring provinces would see many businesses shutter for good. Environment Minister Scott Moe says the federal government’s carbon tax equates to Ottawa laying down a new sales tax. – CKRM The Source


Proposal to move Bay of Fundy tidal turbine raises concerns

The Cape Sharp Tidal Venture turbine, a joint project between Emera Inc. and OpenHydro may be moved from its current location in the Minas Passage near Parrsboro, Nova Scotia, to another area in the Bay of Fundy. But a group of fishermen are expressing concerns that the proposed new area has not been environmentally assessed. The turbine could endanger fish and its placement violates the rules governing the development of tidal energy in the area. Representatives from Cape Sharp Tidal argue that the turbine needs to be moved in order to conduct tests on it. These tests could determine how to make the turbine more efficient. – CBC News Nova Scotia


Toronto’s glass condos are burning thermal holes in the sky

If all goes according to city staff’s new TransformTO plan, which the city’s Parks and Environment committee approved May 4, Toronto residents will all be living near accessible fossil-fuel-free transit, tossing our waste into tiny garbage bins, getting 75 per cent of our energy from renewable sources, and all our homes, condos and apartments will be retrofitted to become lean, clean greenhouse-gas-saving machines. The city-led TransformTO road map, which goes to council May 24, calls for all new builds to put out near net-zero emissions by 2030. But in a city where half our greenhouse gas emissions now come from leaky buildings, the glass condo boom may be setting us up for failure. Glass condos are greenhouse-gas-emitting giant thermal holes. Anyone living in a glass box knows that all those windows have them cranking the thermostat in the winter to keep warm and blasting the AC in summer to keep from getting heat stroke. – Toronto NOW


Alberta making changes to carbon tax rebates

Alberta is bringing in new rules to make amends to 4,400 families who lost a loved one and were ordered to pay back their carbon tax rebate. “For a relatively small number of families, the program didn’t work as it should have,” Finance Minister Joe Ceci said Wednesday. “These families received bluntly worded letters from the Canada Revenue Agency asking them to repay all or part of the rebate because the death of a loved one changed their eligibility. Grieving families should not face the indignity of a collection letter demanding the repayment of a benefit that is supposed to make their lives better.” – Global News



United States

Amazon’s Clean Energy Procurements Should Include Nuclear, Say Advocates

A coalition of scientists, clean energy advocates, business leaders and Ohio political leaders is asking Amazon to expand its renewable energy procurement policy to include nuclear power, in the hopes of saving two plants in Ohio that might go out of business. Amazon is a major employer and energy customer in Ohio. The letter, penned to Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos last week, marks a strategic shift in the effort to preserve nuclear generators as zero-carbon fuel sources in the midst of market turbulence. Nuclear plants that have closed in recent years were replaced largely by fossil fuel generation, complicating efforts to reduce the grid's climate impact. – Greentech Media


Connecticut’s delayed energy plan could mean trouble

Connecticut’s master plan for energy use and policy is months behind its three-year update, and now the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection says it will not be ready in time for legislators to consider this session. The lack a Comprehensive Energy Strategy (CES) leaves lawmakers, in their final few weeks of the legislative session, without policy guidance on a number of energy issues — most critically and controversially, whether to give competitive help to the Millstone Nuclear Power Station. –The CT Mirror


Despite four decades and $500 billion, the Energy Department hasn't accomplished much

In 1977, newly-inaugurated President Carter established the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) in an attempt to launch a government-inspired tech revolution in energy. The history of a top-down policy attempt to effect an energy tech revolution is quite different. But start with the goals. When President Carter announced the creation of DOE in his “moral equivalent of war” address to the nation, Government action, he said, was needed for “the greatest challenge that our country will face during our lifetime” in order to “balance our demand for energy with our rapidly shrinking resources.” And DOE’s 40-year mission? It has been almost entirely focused on reducing the use of, or trying to completely replace oil and gas. – The Hill


Clean tech gets frosty reception from venture capitalists

Venture capital investment in clean tech is dropping nationally, and Chicago ranks 10th among metropolitan areas for its share of the dwindling pool, a Brookings analysis has found. Between 2011 and 2016, venture capital investment in U.S. clean tech declined from $7.5-billion to $5.2-billion, a drop of 30 percent. Additionally, more than half of all clean-tech investment was concentrated in San Francisco, San Jose, Boston and Los Angeles. Ben Gaddy, director of technology development for the Chicago-based Clean Energy Trust, said regulatory uncertainty makes the clean-tech market an unpredictable one. – Chicago Tribune


All but two countries are in the Paris climate agreement. The U.S. could be the third.

One of Donald Trump's prominent campaign promises — to pull out of the Paris climate agreement, a 2015 U.N. accord that aims to combat climate change — may soon become reality. The move, which senior officials have said could come as early as this week, would be one of several Obama-era environmental milestones that Trump has dismantled. Leaving the agreement would displace the U.S. from a stance of global leadership. – Chicago Tribune


United Kingdom

Conservatives Suggest More Curbs for Wind Farms on Land in U.K.

Prime Minister Theresa May ruled out new wind farms on land in England if her Conservative party wins the general election next month, tightening restrictions on the technology that’s spreading rapidly. “We do not believe that more large-scale onshore wind power is right for England,” the Conservatives wrote in their manifesto released on Thursday. Instead, May’s government would support the oil and gas industry to find “new life and unlock future opportunities.” – Bloomberg



Rising South Australia jobless rate sparks reform calls

Industry groups are urging the South Australian government to do more to tackle unemployment after the state's jobless rate rose to 7.3% in April. The rate is up from seven per cent in March, making it Australia's highest and going against a national fall from 5.9% in March to 5.7% in April. Opposition spokesman Corey Wingard said the government had strangled jobs growth through its energy policies, emergency services levy and water prices. – The Australian


Users paid to cut energy usage to help the NEM

Businesses and households in South Australia and Victoria will be paid to cut their energy usage during times of peak demand as part of a new trial to ease pressure on the power grid ahead of next summer. AEMO (Australian Energy Market Operator) chief executive Audrey Zibelman said the pilot program would help the electricity system to manage peak demand in real-time, without the need for new fossil fuel generation. ARENA (Australian Renewable Energy Agency) chief executive Ivor Frischknecht said demand response would help to facilitate Australia's transition to renewable energy. "We need to find new, smarter ways of coping with spikes in demand and volatility as we move towards an electricity system with more variable renewable energy supply," (Frischknecht) said. So far ARENA has committed $22.5 million over three years to fund the project. – Australian Financial Review



New Zealand 

Discovery of hot water in New Zealand fault line has energy potential

When researchers in New Zealand drilled deep into an earthquake fault, they stumbled upon a discovery they say could provide a significant new energy source for the South Pacific nation. The scientists found the water in the Alpine Fault was much hotter than expected, and could potentially be harnessed to generate electricity or provide direct heating in industries like dairy farming. The finding was surprising because geothermal energy is usually associated with volcanic activity, but there are no volcanoes where the scientists drilled. Because the Alpine Fault stretches for hundreds of kilometres like a spine along the country's South Island, the energy source could be enormous.CBC News