March 27, 2018

Affordable Energy News Service for March 27, 2018

Affordable Energy News Service for March 27, 2018

Province dismisses auditor’s concern about ‘bogus’ accounting on hydro rate cuts — Rob Ferguson

Ontario’s Liberal government is trying to brush aside auditor general Bonnie Lysyk’s latest concern about “bogus” accounting standards, this time over the government’s so-called Fair Hydro Plan that reduced electricity rates by 25%. The criticism followed a special audit of the province’s Independent Electricity System Operator in which Lysyk – who first issued a red flag last October – determined the accounting methods lowball the cost of the relief program to taxpayers by as much as $1.3-billion, potentially understating the size of a provincial deficit. Lysyk’s accusation in a legislative committee meeting last week was that the government can use the accounting method to “falsely claim” its budget numbers are better than they are heading into the June 7 provincial election. Energy Minister Glen Thibeault said the government had been “transparent” about the accounting methods being used all along. - Toronto Star  


Pipeline playing field leveled against Alberta — Lorne Gunter

On Friday, the Federal Court of Appeal turned down a request from the B.C. government to overturn a National Energy Board ruling from last December. The NEB had ruled the City of Burnaby lacked constitutional authority to use development bylaws to block construction of a federally approved pipeline, Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain expansion. But Friday’s ruling could be appealed, and even if it is not, there are other cases being brought by First Nations and the B.C. government that are working their way through the courts. Still, there is no good reason Prime Minister Justin Trudeau shouldn’t chime in now and tell B.C.’s NDP Premier John Horgan to end its delaying tactics and let Trans Mountain go ahead, full speed. But Trans Mountain is unpopular in those parts of B.C. where the Liberals are fighting the NDP for seats in next year’s federal election. - Ottawa Sun  


New B.C. report discredits green groups' narrative that First Nations are opposed to fossil fuel projects — Claudia Cattaneo

A new report has found that First Nations in British Columbia support the establishment of a liquefied natural gas sector, further discrediting the green movement’s narrative that Canada’s Indigenous communities are opposed to fossil fuel projects. According to a joint report co-authored by the B.C. government and the First Nations LNG Alliance, the nascent sector enjoys such high Indigenous support many are in fact upset many projects haven’t been built. “There have been many positive impacts to First Nations communities related to LNG development, prior to any construction,” according to the report, made public Monday. “Much capacity has been created due to these projects. However, expectations have also been raised. Now, First Nations leaders are trying to deal with their constituents’ frustration because of the delays or cancellation of these projects.” The findings are based on a series of engagement sessions held last fall with Indigenous communities in the province to gather their perspectives and suggestions. - National Post


Radioactive water and 'fugitive' emissions: LNG project a risky investment, critic says — Malone Mullin

A proposed natural-gas export terminal in Kitimat, B.C., is slated to add billions to provincial coffers, but critics think fracking risks don't justify the financial boost. Premier John Horgan last week announced plans to move forward with tax breaks for the proposed liquefied natural gas project. If it's approved later this year, the $40-billion project could generate 10,000 jobs and $22-billion in income for the province. The increased production would meet a "substantial demand" worldwide for a cleaner energy source following the 2015 Paris climate agreement, said Susannah Pierce, a director at LNG Canada. "Canada was missing out," Pierce said, pointing to a need for natural gas in countries such as Japan and China. "If we don't produce it here it'll get produced somewhere else," she said. "And they'll be doing it worse." - CBC News


Ex-Manitoba Hydro chairman refutes premier — Sandy Riley

It was an honour to be appointed chairman of Manitoba Hydro by the new government in 2016 and to serve alongside an incredibly talented group of women and men. The problems facing Hydro at that time, arising from a decade of mismanagement, are well-documented. We worked diligently to solve those problems for the benefit of all Manitobans. Unfortunately, Premier Brian Pallister continues to make inaccurate statements about the circumstances leading to our resignation, including misstatements in his March 24 column in the Winnipeg Free Press. As long as he continues to put out inaccurate information which misrepresents the actions and motivations of my fellow board members, I will continue to set the record straight. - Winnipeg Free Press


'The cost of everything goes up': Manitoba businesses, consumers bracing for carbon tax impact — Josh Crabb

The province’s carbon dioxide tax has Manitobans bracing to pay more for fuel and home heating, but the impact could have a further hit on your pocketbook. Businesses are bracing for higher costs and experts say you can expect those costs to be passed onto consumers. The federal government is requiring all provinces and territories to introduce carbon pricing. Under Manitoba's plan, the price of natural gas will go up 4.7 cents per cubic metre and gasoline will cost an additional 5.3 cents a litre. University of Winnipeg economics professor Phil Cyrenne said consumers will feel the impact beyond the price at the pumps and on their home heating bills. "Part of the problem with a fossil fuel tax, is really what it is, is that's an input into everything,” said Cyrenne. “If you look at your grocery store, they have heat their building. Supermarkets – they have to transport goods to get there." The cost of diesel will rise 6.7 cents a litre. The Manitoba Trucking Association said the province's green plan fails to help transportation companies switch to more fuel efficient trucks. - CTV News


Newfoundland & Labrador budget expected to include plan for carbon taxes — staff writer

Newfoundland & Labrador will bring down its latest budget today. Dwight Ball's Liberal government will unveil a financial plan that's expected to include details on how the province intends to address carbon dioxide taxes and federal government regulations to reduce greenhouse gases. The provincial government has so far said little about how carbon taxes will be implemented and who will have to pay, making it one of the last provinces to announce its carbon pricing plan. - Metro News  


Husky Energy faces 10 charges in 2016 oil spill into Saskatchewan river — staff writer

Husky Energy is now facing a total of ten charges in relation to a 2016 oil spill in Saskatchewan. The July 2016 Maidstone-area spill saw 225,000 litres of oil leak from a damaged pipeline, around 40% of which made its way to the North Saskatchewan River. On Monday, the province confirmed one charge is being laid under the provincial Environmental Management and Protection Act. Saskatchewan's Ministry of Environment has repeatedly stated that the decision to lay charges would come from Crown prosecutors, not the province. - CBC News


Electrification is our way to a decarbonized future — Jae Mather

Climate change is disruptive. We can all agree on that. But there is a path forward where we can rise above the disruptions: electrification. It’s the best way to bridge the gap to meet our greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction goals. The B.C. government has committed to a 40% reduction in GHG emissions by 2030 (based upon 2007 levels) – something that benefits us all. It’s an ambitious target but it demonstrates a government that understands that the opportunities for B.C.’s economy, resilience, innovation and employment are tremendous. Failure to mitigate against climate change would cost our economy far more than any industry can generate. B.C.’s brand is “supernatural” and associated with a clean, green environment. Our electricity is among the greenest in the world and at one of the lowest costs anywhere. - National Observer


United States

U.S. energy markets: the real Russian meddling the media ignores — Sterling Burnett

Who is actively fighting to ensure government policies shutter U.S. nuclear energy facilities; keep domestic coal, natural gas, and oil in the ground; force up energy prices through taxes and regulations; and endanger national security by installing wind farms near military bases? If you answered, “the Sierra Club and its allies,” you’re correct, though you might be surprised to find that one of the latter is the Russian government. The U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Science, Space, and Technology recently issued a report detailing attempts by the Russian government to disrupt U.S. energy markets through social media. Russian operatives encouraged protests to block pipeline construction and prevent new oil and gas extraction projects, among other activities. “The Kremlin manipulated various groups in an attempt to carry out its geopolitical agenda, particularly with respect to domestic energy policy,” the report stated. The Russian government funneled money through surrogates to U.S. environmental organizations to fund attacks on the fossil fuel industry, the report states. - The American Spectator


U.S. energy market has become more unpredictable in recent decades — staff writer

The energy market in the United States has become increasingly unpredictable and volatile in recent decades – posing a challenge to lawmakers and companies faced with making policy and investment decisions that “influence the cost” and “environmental and health impacts of the U.S. energy system for decades,” according to a new study published in the journal Nature Energy. The study’s authors, energy and policy experts at Carnegie Mellon University, examined data on U.S. electricity prices and demand, production and costs of oil, gas, and coal, transportation, and more than a dozen other energy-related trends from 1952 to 2015. They compared the accuracy of forecasts by groups like the U.S. Energy Information Administration against actual energy trends, finding that annual forecasts have become increasingly wrong in the last decade. This is in part due to the 2007-2008 financial crisis, as well as to the hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, boom that has boosted U.S. oil and gas production and lowered energy costs. - Yale Environment   



Northern Territory fracking risks 'can be mitigated', inquiry finds — Angela MacDonald Smith

The risks involved with the onshore shale gas industry in the Northern Territory can be reduced to an "acceptable" level, a 15-month scientific inquiry into fracking has found, potentially paving the way for the resumption of drilling of the territory's vast unconventional resources. The inquiry, chaired by Justice Rachel Pepper, made 135 recommendations to the NT government on measures that could be taken to mitigate the risks should it decide to lift the moratorium on the controversial process that Chief Minister Michael Gunner introduced shortly after his election in August 2016. "No industry is without risk, and any onshore shale gas industry is no exception," Justice Pepper said. The vast majority of the NT's gas exploration industry has been brought to a standstill by the moratorium on fracking, a vital process to extract unconventional gas from underground but one which has alarmed environmental and community groups because of potential risks to precious land and water resources. - Australian Financial Review