April 10, 2018

Affordable Energy News Service for April 10, 2018

Affordable Energy News Service for April 10, 2018

Activists credit ongoing protests behind halting of Trans Mountain expansion — Gemma Karstens-Smith

Protesters who have loudly voiced their opposition to the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion are taking credit for Kinder Morgan Canada's decision to pause work on the controversial project. "Every day the protests continue, it gets harder and harder to imagine (the pipeline) going ahead," said Karen Mahon, campaigns director with the environmental group Stand.Earth. Kinder Morgan announced Sunday that it had suspended all non-essential activities and related spending on the pipeline's expansion project. It followed another demonstration at a work site in Burnaby, B.C., Saturday, where Indigenous leaders, environmentalists and others have gathered in recent weeks to show their opposition to the $7.4-billion project. The timing was no accident, said Chief Judy Wilson, secretary-treasurer of the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs. "Opposition continues to grow as people learn of the devastating effects this pipeline expansion would have," Wilson said in a statement. "This should be a warning to all investors: you must respect Indigenous title and rights, or your projects have no certainty." - CTV News  


Notley says to save Trans Mountain, Alberta would buy it from Kinder Morgan — Don Braid

Premier Rachel Notley says Alberta would buy the Kinder Morgan pipeline expansion if the company wants out after May 31. In an interview Tuesday, I asked her: “If Kinder Morgan were to say, ‘We’re gone, and if you want to buy, it’s yours’ – that’s what you’d do?” “That’s what we’d do,” said the premier. The answer is almost too clear for politics. But it’s what she said. Earlier I asked: “Are you assuring Albertans that even if Kinder Morgan does walk away, that it (the Trans Mountain project) will still be alive and kicking with Alberta in control, after May 31.” “We have every intention that this will happen,” she said. Anybody who thinks Notley is bluffing should remember that she’s already phased out coal, brought in a carbon tax, turned the electricity industry on its head and imposed a cap on emissions. Notley won’t talk about the cost of buying the expansion or what other solutions might work. But she’s determined that the province, hopefully with Ottawa as co-investor, would control the project. - National Post  


'We're in crisis mode now': Energy sector fears investor exodus as Trans Mountain pipeline stalls — Geoffrey Morgan

Major Canadian oil companies fear an investor exodus as Kinder Morgan Inc. signals there are less risky pipeline projects it can invest in than the troubled $7.4-billion Trans Mountain project through British Columbia. Kinder Morgan Inc. announced late Sunday that it would suspend all non-essential work on the pipeline until the federal government intervenes in the spat that has pit B.C. against Alberta and Saskatchewan. The company said it needs certainty the project will not face endless delays from B.C. in order to proceed and gave an end-of-May deadline. The announcement immediately sent shockwaves through the domestic oilpatch. “If we don’t understand that we’re in crisis mode now, we’ve got to get there pretty quickly,” Canadian Energy Pipeline Association president and CEO Chris Bloomer said Monday of the pipeline fight. - National Post  


Trans Mountain becomes another project sacrificed to Trudeau’s false green gods — Joe Oliver

Kinder Morgan finally succumbed to lawsuits, delays, escalating costs, threats of civil disobedience and one-sided regulatory policy. It has announced it is suspending all non-essential activities on the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion project, Canada’s last chance to get our oil to tidewater. Anti-resource-development activists here and in the United States will be triumphant. The rest of us should be disconsolate that Canada’s ability to export oil to offshore markets may be blocked for a very long time, perhaps forever. The Alberta government’s offer of provincial funds for Kinder Morgan, fully backed by the opposition conservatives, might at least provide a last chance for life support. Kinder Morgan is blaming the decision on the B.C. government’s ongoing attempts to frustrate the project. However, the debacle is ultimately the responsibility of the federal government. The Liberal government has mouthed support, but its actions have been consistently harmful. Through their ideological obsession, regulatory meddling, partisan pandering and absence of leadership, the Liberals have effectively landlocked our vast oil reserves and condemned the country to a poorer, more divisive and less secure future. - National Post  


Carbon pricing has been fully exposed as just another tax grab — Jack Mintz

The Abacus survey on carbon taxes, released last week for the Ecofiscal Commission, revealed that 18% of Canadians considered it a “very good” idea for governments to tax carbon. Twenty-eight per cent consider it “good,” 33% say “acceptable,” and 22% think it’s “poor” or worse. More interestingly, almost two-thirds of Canadians nevertheless report that they are not actually familiar with carbon pricing, which is destined to become a major wedge issue between conservative and non-conservative parties in the elections coming federally, in Ontario and Alberta in 2018 and 2019. How can that be? So much has been written and said about carbon taxes, how could most Canadians be unfamiliar with the concept? Don’t be surprised. Governments themselves believe in carbon pricing only half-heartedly. None has yet been willing to rely on it as a key policy. - National Post  


It’s time for Trudeau to end the Trans Mountain pipeline delay — Bill Kelly

Winston Churchill once told an aspiring politician that it was good to have political enemies because it means you’ve taken a stand on an issue. With that in mind, it’s time for Prime Minister Trudeau to make some political enemies in British Columbia and end the costly stalemate over the Trans Mountain pipeline. It’s clear by now that the B.C. NDP government is placing its political ideology ahead of the national interest and it’s blatantly clear that they have no intention of negotiating a solution. The federal government has a number of options available to get the project back on track. They could infuse a direct investment into the project, they could withhold federal funds to the B.C. government as punishment for delaying permits and their threats of further court action, or, they could assert federal constitutional authority over the project which would guarantee construction and the removal of protesters who attempt to block the project. Kinder Morgan has given the government until the end of May to resolve the stalemate and quell the concerns of investors. - Global News  


Kinder Morgan plans for life after Trans Mountain — Andrew Willis

Kinder Morgan Inc. boss Steve Kean wasn’t bluffing Sunday when he threatened to kill the planned $7.4-billion Trans Mountain pipeline expansion. The Houston-based CEO, a lawyer by training, spent recent months deftly building a case for keeping the faith of Kinder Morgan investors, while potentially walking away from the company’s controversial link between Alberta’s oil sands and Asian markets. That link, of course, means running 1,000 kilometres of steel pipe across British Columbia mountains, rivers and ports. And B.C. Premier John Horgan is clearly not bluffing when he says he will do everything in his power to block Trans Mountain. Polling shows Mr. Horgan’s NDP government is gaining public support from opposing the pipeline. For Mr. Kean, Trans Mountain was the centrepiece of a growth strategy that will see the utility spend US$11.8-billion on projects across North America over the next five years.  - Globe and Mail  


British Columbia sinking in its own pipeline hypocrisy — Mark Bonokoski

Kinder Morgan announced Sunday that it was suspending all non-essential spending on the Trans Mountain pipeline – giving British Columbia until May 31 to either get onside or kiss billions in Canada revenues goodbye. The company had little choice. It is more than obvious that Prime Minister Trudeau went to Western Canada this week without a clue as to what Kinder Morgan was about to do Sunday. He was either played for a fool by Kinder Morgan or made to look like one. The Liberals do not know how to play hardball and, as a result, the natural resource of the oilsands and the multi-billions it represents in the global market place, does not get the chance to better the lives of all Canadians. And then there is the hypocrisy of the B.C. NDP. As it talks about protecting the province’s environment as the key reason for opposing the Trans Mountain pipeline, it doesn’t seem to see the hypocrisy of supporting the mining of its own natural gas reserves and building a new pipeline. If it benefits British Columbia, no problem. - Toronto Star  


‘A lot of strategic stupidity.’ Experts not surprised by pipeline pull back — Ainslie Cruickshank

Experts aren’t surprised by Kinder Morgan’s decision to pull back spending on the Trans Mountain expansion, saying it’s “highly unlikely” the pipeline will be built in the face of enduring resistance and limited demand. “There’s a lot of strategic stupidity here,” said regulatory lawyer Bill Gallagher. Kinder Morgan should have learned the importance of community support from the projects that failed before them, he said, including Enbridge’s Northern Gateway project in northern B.C. or the much earlier McKenzie Valley pipeline. “Having rights-of-way along your route is not enough; you have to win the support of communities.” - Toronto Star  


Trans Mountain pipeline extension will be built, Trudeau vows — Tonda MacCharles & Bruce Campion-Smith

Facing a political test that could mark his government as dithering or decisive, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is vowing that the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion will be built, as Ottawa considers a “broad range” of unspecified “options” to make the controversial project a reality. Those options could include direct investment or some kind of financial backstop to the project, as the Alberta government says its prepared to make, or withholding discretionary federal spending from British Columbia to punish the provincial NDP government for delaying its own permits and threatening more court challenges to the project. It could even see Ottawa assert federal constitutional authority over the project and guarantee construction via a promise to arrest protesters who are equally adamant to stop it. Natural Resources Minister Jim Carr and Prime Minister Trudeau openly voiced frustration with B.C. Premier John Horgan’s opposition to the pipeline, saying he is “obstructing progress.” - Toronto Star  


Trudeau ‘squarely’ to blame as Kinder Morgan halts pipeline — Ryan Maloney

Federal Conservatives wasted no time blaming Prime Minister Justin Trudeau for Kinder Morgan’s decision to suspend work on its Trans Mountain pipeline. Tory Leader Andrew Scheer released a statement Sunday targeting the Liberals for what he called “devastating news” for the energy sector. “The blame for this development rests squarely on the shoulders of Justin Trudeau. He has failed to take a single concrete step to ensure this project is completed. All he has done is give us empty words with no action,” Scheer said. The Tory leader argued Trudeau did not “champion” the Trans Mountain pipeline and suggested the federal plan to phase in a price on carbon pollution only makes such projects harder. Yet when Kinder Morgan announced the decision to halt “non-essential activities” on the project Sunday, the company cited B.C.’s “continued active opposition” and legal challenges to the project. They also said they appreciated the support shown by the federal government. - Huffington Post


Kinder Morgan 'open to' Alberta investing in pipeline — Tony Seskus

Kinder Morgan Canada is open to discussing the idea of having the Alberta government invest in the controversial Trans Mountain pipeline expansion. Premier Rachel Notley first raised the idea on Sunday in responding to the news that Kinder Morgan is suspending all non-essential spending on the project while it seeks to reduce the risk to its shareholders. "Alberta is prepared to do whatever it takes to get this pipeline built – including taking a public position in the pipeline," Notley told a press conference. "Alberta is prepared to be an investor in the pipeline.” - CBC News


If proposed pipeline fails, Kinder Morgan could take Canada to court — Kyle Bakx

Kinder Morgan has spent plenty of time recently on the defensive as it faces legal challenges against its proposed Trans Mountain expansion pipeline. However, if the project fails, the Houston-based company could go on the offensive to try to recoup billions of dollars. Investors are already asking whether the company will take such action, and some legal experts say it has a legitimate case against Canada because of how the B.C. government and some municipalities have tried to oppose the project. If the company seeks damages, it would likely use NAFTA, since Chapter 11 of the agreement allows foreign companies to file compensation claims in countries where they have investments and believe a government action is unfair and discriminatory. - CBC News


B.C.'s Horgan holding out to hang on — staff writer

The Kinder Morgan company took a first step on Sunday toward abandoning its plan to expand its Trans Mountain pipeline to bring Alberta bitumen through British Columbia for export to Asia. The company will consult stakeholders during the next three weeks and then either start construction or scrap the project. Abandonment of the plan, which now seems likely, will be a victory for B.C. environmentalists and Indigenous bands opposed to the pipeline expansion. B.C. Premier John Horgan, who clings to power with the support of three Green Party legislators, has promised to throw every possible roadblock in front of the project. Abandonment will be a defeat for Alberta oil producers who hoped to ship bitumen through the line, for Alberta Premier Rachel Notley and for Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. - Winnipeg Free Press


With Trans Mountain on the ropes, Ottawa must climb into the ring — Chris Varcoe

Listening to Kinder Morgan CEO Steve Kean talk Monday about the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion, it’s clear the energy company is steely eyed and deadly serious about its decision to halt non-essential spending on the $7.4-billion project. If the energy firm does not find a solution by May 31 to give its project more certainty moving ahead, there’s a real threat it could pull the plug on the critical development to triple the amount of oil moving from Alberta to the west coast. “We have been advancing this project for over five years now, and we still don’t have the clarity that we need,” Kean told analysts on a conference call. - Edmonton Journal


United States

Ohio power company has few allies in bailout bid — Erin Ailworth & Russell Gold

FirstEnergy Corp. is waging a lonely fight as it seeks to persuade the Trump administration to bail out its struggling coal and nuclear-power plants through an unprecedented emergency action that experts say would effectively end America’s largest competitive electricity market. The Ohio-based utility doubled down on coal and nuclear power in 2010 when it struck a deal to purchase Allegheny Energy Inc. for $8.5-billion, just as fracking in the nearby Marcellus Shale formation started to unleash a gusher of cheap natural gas that made gas-fired power plants a potent rival. Now a FirstEnergy subsidiary in bankruptcy protection is calling on U.S. Energy Secretary Rick Perry to save it and other hobbled coal and nuclear generators in the Midwest from closure by forcing the operator of a 13-state competitive power market to take their electricity, regardless of whether it is the most financially sensible option. - Wall Street Journal


Canadian provinces clash, putting pipeline expansion in jeopardy — Vipal Monga & Paul Vieira

A rift between two Canadian provinces is threatening to derail a pipeline expansion that would nearly triple the amount of crude flowing from this town in northeastern Alberta, most of it toward Asian markets. Kinder Morgan Canada Ltd. said on Sunday it would scrap the expansion of the Trans Mountain pipeline if Canada’s federal and provincial governments couldn’t resolve their differences by May 31, raising pressure on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to intervene on behalf of a project that has big implications for world oil markets. The pipeline expansion has hit stiff opposition in British Columbia where environmentalists and lawmakers say it puts the Pacific coastline at risk. That has infuriated many in Alberta, the sprawling Western province that is home to 97% of Canada’s oil reserves. - Wall Street Journal  


United Kingdom

British Gas raising energy prices by 5.5% — Reuters

British Gas will raise the price of its most widely used standard tariff for customers getting electricity and gas by an average of 5.5% from May 29, parent Centrica said on Tuesday. Increases to electricity and gas charges will add 60 pounds (US$85) to annual bills for 4.1 million customers on the standard variable tariff (SVT), raising them to an average of 1,161 pounds, the company said. British Gas withdrew its SVT default tariff for new customers on March 31 and is working to move customers off SVTs and on to fixed tariffs. The company will not offer SVTs to new customers. "This increase is largely due to rising wholesale and policy costs. Similar pressures were cited by Ofgem when they increased the prepayment meter cap by just over 57 pounds on April 1st," Centrica said in a statement. - New York Times   



CBUS to plug $100-million into Western Australian solar and wind farms — Ben Butler

Construction industry super fund CBUS (Construction & Building Unions Superannuation) is to tip $100-million into solar and wind farms that have been part-privatized by the Western Australian government as an investment in the “climate-resilient economy.” CBUS and the Dutch Infrastructure Fund (DIF) are each to own about 40 % of the clutch of renewable generation assets, with state-owned power company Synergy to retain a little under 20%. The Western Australia government announced the part-privatization in November, when only the Dutch fund was known to be involved. A “significant” portion of the money poured in by CBUS and the DIF will be used to fund a second stage of the Greenough River solar farm, refurbish the ageing Albany Grasmere wind farm and begin work on a proposed wind farm at Warradage, CBUS head of infrastructure Diana Callebaut told The Australian. Engineering company RCR Tomlinson (RCR) has been awarded a $60-million contract to expand Greenough River from 10MW to 40MW, starting immediately, the company told the ASX. - The Australian  


Apple's now powered by 100 per cent clean energy as global tech giant goes green — Mark Ludlow

Global technology giant Apple has reached its goal of being powered by 100% clean energy, but the company is holding fire on investing in any energy projects in Australia. The California-based company is keen to show it is a good corporate citizen and serious about tackling climate change. Apple chief executive Tim Cook on Tuesday morning announced the iMac and iPhone had reached its milestone of all of its global facilities using 100% renewable energy sources. This includes its retail stores, offices, data centres and co-located facilities in 43 countries, including the United States, the United Kingdom, China and India, according to Apple. Apple is also using its clout to force its suppliers to embrace renewable energy. The company announced nine additional manufacturing partners had committed to power all their Apple production with 100% clean energy, taking the total number of supplies taking part in Apple's green dream to 23. - Australian Financial Review