December 07, 2017

Affordable Energy News Service for December 7, 2017

Quebec credit union Desjardins Group lifts moratorium on pipeline lending — CP

Quebec credit union Desjardins Group says it is dropping its moratorium on loans for pipeline projects in favour of a framework of general environmental and social responsibility practices that will inform all future lending decisions. Spokeswoman Chantal Corbeil says the decision ends Desjardins’ temporary halt to pipeline lending imposed in July. She says it also means the credit union will continue to back Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain pipeline expansion project to take more Alberta oilsands crude to the West Coast. The decision is likely to upset environmental and First Nations groups who had urged Desjardins to sell its $145-million stake in Kinder Morgan’s credit facility for the project. - Global News  

Oil and gas investors are avoiding Alberta, all because of government policies — Kenneth P. Green & Ashley Stedman

According to the Fraser Institute’s Global Petroleum Survey released last week, Alberta is near the bottom of Canadian provinces when it comes to investment attractiveness in the oil and gas sector, and far below several U.S. states. Despite a slight raise from last year’s standings, Alberta is still Canada’s second-least-attractive jurisdiction to invest in. Tellingly, more than 50% of respondents in 2017 see fiscal terms and taxation as deterrents to investing in Alberta. Since 2015, the Alberta government has increased corporate income taxes by 20 %, implemented a carbon tax, and introduced a new slate of environmental regulations, including a cap on emissions from oilsands production. This is the opposite of what is occurring south of the border. Why would investors put their money into Alberta as opposed to U.S. states, if governments north of the border insist on increasing taxes and regulations? - Financial Post

Large carbon emitters in Alberta expected to pay upwards of $1.2-billion a year under new rules — Ian Bickis

The government of Alberta has released a new Carbon Competitiveness Incentives with new rules that would see large carbon emitters pay upwards of $1.2-billion a year in levies by 2020. According to Environment Minister Shannon Phillips. The new regulations are intended to incentivize industries to reduce emissions, with facilities below a set level of emissions rewarded and those above penalized. The new rules are expected to reduce emissions by 20 million tonnes by 2020, and 50 million tonnes by 2030, about the same as the emissions from 11.5 million cars. The new program will be phased in, with companies only paying 50% of the costs next year, moving to 75% for 2019, before the full regulations take force by 2020. - Toronto Star

Alberta's new carbon tax on industry will cut emissions, but drive up costs — Chris Varcoe

Two things are apparent coming out of the provincial government’s big announcement Wednesday about changes to overhaul its carbon tax on big industrial operations. No. 1: The shift should lead to less greenhouse gas emissions coming from these large players. No. 2: There will be a cost to industry. Environment Minister Shannon Phillips was quick to make the first point while talking to reporters in Calgary, but a little more reluctant to acknowledge the second.  - Calgary Herald  

Specifics still lacking on New Brunswick Liberals’ climate change plan after one year — Jacques Poitras

Almost a year after Premier Brian Gallant said that he would act in a “bold yet responsible way” concerning his government’s climate strategy, there are still very few details as to how the province will respond. On Monday, the government announced a series of initiatives to improve energy efficiency, including $101-million in upgrades and retrofits for government buildings over the next five years. But there is still no information on how the province will implement the federally required carbon tax. Conservative opposition leader Blake Higgs said that the delay of Gallant’s announcement could mean he is having second thoughts. - CBC News  

Ontario cap-and-trade auctions bring in nearly $2-billion this year — Allison Jones

Ontario’s cap-and-trade auctions brought in nearly $2-billion in its first year, ahead of entering a joint market with Quebec and California next year. Ontario’s three previous auctions sold out of current credits. The government has said it didn’t expect every single auction to sell out, as the market fluctuates. - The National Post  

Energy regulator vows to weed out bad operators before they start drilling — CP

Alberta’s energy regulator is making changes that it hopes will keep bad operators out of the oilpatch. Jim Ellis of the Alberta Energy Regulator says his agency will start asking tougher questions of companies applying for a licence to operate. He says the regulator will look at the past performance of companies and directors before deciding to allow them to drill. The regulator will look at such things as bill payment and past regulatory compliance. Ellis says it’s an attempt to deal with the ballooning number of operators who have walked away from unprofitable wells during bankruptcy proceedings. He says the problem is rooted in federal legislation and a three-year downturn in the industry, but this is one tool the regulator will use to try to control it. - Calgary Herald  

New app could trim energy bills — Michael Staples

Keelan Gagnon, COO of the Fredericton-based SimpTek Technologies has created an app called Building 360 that pinpoints where companies are using the most energy. “What we do is leverage energy data and help uncover energy insights that can help consumers, property owners, and utilities better understand how to manage their energy consumption,” Gagnon said. Right now SimpTek is looking for homeowners willing to take part in a paid pilot project. The City of Fredericton is using the app at their Grant-Harvey Centre. - The Telegraph Journal   

United States 

GE to slash 12,000 jobs, almost 20% of its power division’s workforce, as world turns its back on fossil fuels — Richard Clough

In a statement released Thursday, General Electric Co. announced they would be cutting 12,000 jobs in its power business, including both professional and production employees, in an effort to slash costs and stabilize the manufacturer. “This decision was painful but necessary for GE Power to respond to the disruption in the power market,” said division chief Russel Stokes. Trimming the workforce will help GE Achieve its goal of slicing US$1-billion of structural costs next year in the power division. Demand for GE’s power-generation equipment is flagging because of overcapacity, lower utilization, fewer outages, and the growth of renewable energy, said Stifel Financial Corp. analyst Robert McCarthy. “Traditional power markets including gas and coal have softened and volumes are down significantly.” While GE didn’t specify where the job cuts will come, the bulk will be outside the U.S., according to a person familiar with the matter who asked not to be identified discussing the details. - Financial Post  

U.S.-Saudi Arabia ink carbon capture agreement — Priyanka Shrestha

The U.S. and Saudi Arabia have agreed to work together on technologies designed to reduce carbon dioxide from fossil fuel projects. They have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to establish a framework for co-operation in the areas of clean fossil fuels and carbon management. That includes carbon capture, utilisation and storage (CCUS), supercritical carbon dioxide power cycles and the energy-water nexus. The two nations will exchange experts, engineers and scientists along with technologies and encourage joint workshops and seminars. The announcement was made during U.S. Energy Secretary Rick Perry’s visit to Saudi Arabia last week. - Energy Live News  

U.S. Federal Energy Regulatory Commission rejects energy efficiency restrictions — Joshua Hill

The U.S. Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) has rejected a proposal filed earlier this year by PJM Interconnection seeking permission to restrict energy efficiency resources from entering the wholesale market, a move which has been praised by energy efficiency proponents. - CleanTechnica  



Hazelwood closure, coal prices driving up power — Angela MacDonald Smith

AGL Energy, Origin Energy and other NSW power generators have been cleared of using dodgy power market bidding practices to rip off customers, with the energy regulator blaming a rise in the state's wholesale electricity prices on the shutdown of Hazelwood power station in Victoria and a temporary rise in the cost of coal and gas. The regulator was ordered by federal energy minister Josh Frydenberg in September to examine the way the NSW power generators were bidding into the national electricity market after reports that they were artificially inflating prices by $30-$35 a megawatt-hour. But Australian Energy Regulator chair Paula Conboy said the increase seen in wholesale power prices since last summer was due to other issues. Average monthly prices have risen to $80-$110 a megawatt-hour, from $30-$65/MWh in previous years. - Australian Financial Review