December 04, 2017

Affordable Energy News Service for December 4, 2017

Affordable Energy News Service for December 4, 2017

Kathleen Wynne’s attack on the Ontario PC carbon tax plan misleads voters — Trevor Tombe

Carbon taxes versus cap-and-trade will be a critical issue in the 2018 Ontario election. The opposition Conservatives propose to scrap the current cap-and-trade system and shift to a carbon tax administered through the federal government’s backstop program. The governing Liberals counter that this will cost families more and result in lower emissions reductions. In recent comments, Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne claimed “there’d be higher costs for home heating, filling up your car with gas. A carbon tax would add about $1,200 in additional annual costs for families with children.” She goes on to claim the cap-and-trade system is “more effective at reducing greenhouse gas emissions.” On both the added cost to households and the effect on Ontario’s emissions, the Premier is very wrong. A carbon tax of $50 per tonne will therefore add only about $400 per household in new incremental costs relative to the current cap-and-trade system. The Premier’s claim that the PC proposal will cost households $1,200 is false. - Macleans  

Thumbs up on Brown's pledge to kill Green Energy Act — editorial

We applaud Ontario Progressive Conservative Leader Patrick Brown’s promise to scrap the Liberals’ 2009 Green Energy Act if he wins the June 2018 election. This badly flawed and dictatorial legislation has cost Ontarians a fortune. It is the legal underpinning of Premier Kathleen Wynne’s, and before her premier Dalton McGuinty’s, disastrous and ruinously expensive plunge into green energy. Green energy – primarily wind and solar power – that was never needed to eliminate Ontario’s use of coal-fired electricity, which was actually done with nuclear power and natural gas. The Green Energy Act, plus the fact the Liberals ignored the advice of their own energy experts, are the reasons Ontarians today are locked into paying for unneeded, expensive, unreliable and inefficient wind and solar power for 20 years. Power Ontario has to buy first, regardless of whether it’s needed, which makes the entire electricity system run less efficiently as a result. Power we don’t need, because Ontario has a massive energy surplus. - Toronto Sun

Why coal will continue to power Nova Scotia beyond 2030 — Taryn Grant

Nova Scotia has a long association with coal – over 250 consecutive years of mining – and that’s not going to end anytime soon. Today the province imports coal from abroad and burns it to keep the lights on. Four other provinces burn coal for electricity, but Nova Scotia is the most coal-dependent province in the country. Stephen Thomas, energy campaign co-ordinator at the Ecology Action Centre, said Nova Scotia needs to stop burning coal for electricity and set a precedent for others, both nationally and internationally. “We have a big responsibility to do the work of making the justice-based transition away from fossil fuels and from coal in particular, in order to usher in that prosperous green economy and do what I think is necessary in terms of the climate crisis,” Thomas said. Canada and the U.K. established Powering Past Coal at the United Nations climate change conference, COP23, in Bonn, Germany in November. Partners in the alliance – a combination of countries, provinces, states and municipalities – agreed to go coal free by 2030. Nova Scotia didn’t sign on and coal will continue to power Nova Scotia beyond 2030. - The Signal  

Hydro chair says Manitoba's new carbon tax could be used to offset rising rates — Steve Lambert

The chair of Crown-owned Manitoba Hydro says the province should use some revenue from its planned carbon tax to offset sharply rising electricity rates. The provincial utility is seeking annual rate hikes of eight per cent over the next few years to help it deal with ballooning costs from two new projects. Regulatory hearings on the application are scheduled to start Monday. The proposed rate hikes are being opposed as unnecessary and unaffordable by groups including the Consumers Association of Canada. Board chairman Sanford Riley said in a speech to the Manitoba Chambers of Commerce the province could help low-income earners and others deal with the rate hikes by diverting some of the $260-million a year it expects to collect from a carbon tax that will be enacted next year. Riley said any financial help could go to a variety of people. "I identified people who have energy poverty issues, identified people in rural areas who can't heat with gas and they've got to use electricity, and certain kinds of businesses and northern communities," he said. - Chronicle Journal   

Manitoba Hydro at a crossroad — Sean Cavanagh

The stakes are enormous and the diversity of opinion on the proper course of action is broad as Manitoba Hydro once again asks Manitobans to pay more for electricity. On Monday, the Public Utilities Board (PUB) begins hearings into a rate application by Manitoba Hydro that would see electricity rates rise by 7.9% through to 2019 with the intention for those increases to continue for another three years before easing back. The request takes rate hikes well past the cost of inflation and higher than the PUB has historically given to the Crown corporation. Consultants, economists, construction analysts and lawyers have weighed in with reams of data. While there is a diversity of opinion, some things are fairly irrefutable. Manitoba Hydro's finances are not in good shape. The big projects it has on the go are behind schedule and way over budget. Hydro says they need the rate increase to stay afloat, something opponents argue could bankrupt vulnerable Manitobans. The consumers' Coalition wants rates to rise more slowly, something Hydro's board says could bankrupt Manitoba's Crown power utility. - CBC News  

The high cost of cheap electricity — Don Pittis

Producing electricity has never been so cheap. Efficient generation technology, including low-cost wind and solar, and natural gas prices at levels no one predicted a decade ago have contributed to those bargain prices. According to the rules of market economics, that should be a good thing. But whether through their electricity bills or through taxes, Canadians have been left paying for an expensive legacy system of power generation that produces more energy than the economy can consume. While similar problems exist across the country, energy economist Adam Fremeth says it may be most pronounced in Ontario. He points to the example of natural gas plants that spend most of their time on standby. "Some of the facilities that we have fixed contracts with and have agreed to take their power under different schemes are only being used a few hours a year," says Fremeth, a specialist in economics and public policy at Western University's Ivey Business School. - CBC News  

Alberta landowners seek answers about Trans Mountain pipeline route — Postmedia News

A group of Parkland County landowners voiced their opposition to the Trans Mountain pipeline route Friday during a National Energy Board panel hearing in Spruce Grove. This was one of numerous hearings planned for landowners affected along the planned pipeline route and offer affected individuals the opportunity to present and resolve any issues with where the pipeline will be placed. Representatives of Trans Mountain were present to field questions. Keelan Petterson and his family live roughly 20 km west of Spruce Grove along Highway 16. Having purchased the property in 2015 after numerous agreements and pipeline plans were already in place, Petterson wanted answers about keeping his yard intact and securing the safety of his family. “I’m not objecting to the pipeline in general,” he said. “What I’m objecting to is that every time I meet with them, they keep taking more and more space.” The original construction corridors granted 50 metres of access to Petterson’s land. New proposals have extended that zone to 78 metres, with the most recent changes coming two days ago, Petterson said. - Edmonton Journal  

Yay! Carbon tax hike, 30 days and counting — Rick Bell

Won’t be long now. New Year’s Eve. The stroke of midnight. The ball dropping at New York City’s Times Square, the singing of Auld Lang Syne, the blurry-eyed hugging and kissing of strangers, the fighting sleep a third of the way through a bad movie, the toasting of an increase to Alberta’s carbon tax. Well … maybe not that last bit. For many there’s still little love for the carbon tax even if some folks score a rebate. The NDP plan to save the province, change the economy, get pipelines built and make you feel good about yourself just ain’t doing to it for most folks. Jason Kenney, the new United Conservative leader, is among them. He’s running for a seat in the legislature, representing a south Calgary riding. The byelection vote is Dec. 14. Mention the NDP carbon tax and Kenney is quick to speak his mind. “They’ve already put a lot of lipstick on the carbon tax pig and it’s still a pig.” Nosecounts show most Albertans oppose the tax.  - Calgary Sun  

Now is the time for a strong Canada-China energy partnership — Robert Johnston & Wenran Jiang

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's trip to China this week is raising questions about the risks and opportunities for Canada in seeking a deeper trade and foreign policy relationship with Beijing. One area where effective co-operation has fallen short of potential is in the area of energy. Now is the time for the Prime Minister to make a strong pitch for a deeper China-Canada energy relationship. A deeper relationship serves the economic and political interests of both countries. Evidence of this can be found in potential areas of co-operation in oil, gas, climate policy and renewable energy. While energy policy-making in Canada at its worst gets mired in a debate in which fossil fuels and climate/renewable energy objectives exist in a perpetual zero-sum battle, at its best all levels of government and industry work toward a balanced approach inclusive of all resources. The balanced approach is anchored by a recognition of an ongoing transition toward lower carbon emissions, but not one that excludes more efficient production and usage of fossil fuels during the transition period. - Globe & Mail  

Hong Kong company to spend $350M to expand in Ontario: Wynne — CP

Premier Kathleen Wynne says Johnson Electric will invest more than $350-million in new equipment and capacity in Ontario, which she says is expected to create 326 new jobs. Wynne, who is on a trade mission to China and Vietnam, made the announcement from Hong Kong, where Johnson Electric is based. She says the company, which makes electric motors and mechanical parts for automotive manufacturing, will invest the money in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area. It will support the development of electric auto manufacturing through the purchase of new equipment, and will establish a Global Centre of Excellence for E-Pump Development. Wynne says Ontario has committed up to $24.1-million to the initiative through the Jobs and Prosperity Fund, which provides government funding to businesses. - Toronto Sun  

United States 

Trump’s first major trade fight with China could be over solar panels — Keith Bradsher

With President Trump vowing to get tougher on trade, troubled American makers of everything from steel tubing and aluminium foil to washing machines have lined up to ask Washington for protection from rivals. But Mr. Trump’s first big international trade fight could be over solar panels. Major manufacturers in the United States and Chine, as well as numerous other businesses that buy and use solar panels, are readying for a clash that could begin as soon as January. The solar panel dispute comes at a time when senior administration officials have been signaling their intention to take a much tougher trade stance toward China, where most solar panels are made. - New York Times

From Amazon to Etsy, tech giants fight Trump’s plan to save coal — Emma Ockerman

Selling custom nose rings, crocheted bunnies and hand-carved Santas is energy-intensive stuff. Just ask Etsy Inc., the go-to marketplace for crafts that doubled its electricity use in two years to feed power-sucking data centres that keep the $2.8-billion-a-year business running. It’s one of the many technology giants including and Alphabet’s Google demanding cheaper – and cleaner – electricity as their data demands grow. This hunger for power has set Silicon Valley on a collision course with the Trump administration, which is working up a plan to keep coal plants afloat by raising electricity prices. As a rare source of demand growth, these tech firms have become formidable advocates for clean energy. They have contracted enough renewable energy to displace at least 12 coal generators, and some are paying millions to sever ties with utilities to find their own supply. It’s easy to see why the companies have become such advocates. Power used by all the nation’s data centres is set to climb 4% from 2014 to 2020, according to an Energy Department report. - Toronto Star  



Tesla plugs in world's biggest battery to Australian grid as summer heats up — AP

The world’s biggest lithium-ion battery has plugged into an Australian state grid, an official said Friday, easily delivering on Tesla Inc. chief executive Elon Musk’s 100-day guarantee. Musk promised to build the 100-megawatt battery within 100 days of the contracts being signed at the end of September or hand it over to the South Australia state government for free. South Australia Premier Jay Weatherill announced Friday the battery began dispatching power into the state grid on Thursday afternoon, providing 70 megawatts as temperatures rose above 30 degrees Celsius. “South Australia is now leading the world in dispatchable renewable energy, delivered to homes and businesses 24/7,” Weatherill said. - National Post  

Arrow gas go-ahead ups pressure on AGL Energy import plan — Angela Macdonald-Smith

The pending development of the large Arrow gas reserves in Queensland is fuelling hopes among energy users of keener competition for gas supply into the south-eastern states, but has raised another hurdle for AGL Energy's $250-million LNG import plan. The prospects for developing Arrow's Surat Basin coal seam gas reserves took a huge step forward on Friday with news of a 27-year contract by Arrow, owned by Shell and PetroChina, to sell gas to the QCLNG venture in Queensland. The gas sales deal is set to kick off a multibillion-dollar investment to extract about 5 trillion cubic feet of gas is expected to result in Arrow gas starting to flow by 2020, adding about 10% to the annual production in the southern and eastern states. AGL's LNG import project at Victoria's Crib Point, which has yet to get the go-ahead, would also start operating around 2020-21. - Financial Review