Archives for January 2016

Energy use, emissions to rise, says NEB report

28 Jan 2016 Lethbridge Herald
Energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions in Canada will continue to grow over the next 24 years regardless of whether oil prices rise or pipeline projects are built, a report from the National Energy Board says.
“Scenarios like high or low oil and natural gas prices, or whether or not we build pipelines or we build LNG terminals … are not sufficient to put Canada on a path to declining greenhouse gas emissions,” said board chairman and CEO Peter Watson, who presented the report’s findings to the Toronto Region Board of Trade.
The study released Wednesday takes a long-term view of the country’s energy future and expects power consumption to grow by about 20 per cent by 2040.
The markets will supply Canada’s demand for energy, and fossil fuel consumption and greenhouse gas emissions are anticipated to increase. Fluctuating oil prices or possible future development of pipelines don’t necessarily impact this, Watson said.
The report offers a number of projections.
Under one scenario, it expects oil prices to climb to US$80 per barrel in four years, with that rising to US$105 per barrel by 2040. In that case, Canadian energy production is forecast to increase 56 per cent to 6.1 million barrels daily by 2040. The Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers forecast daily production at 3.9 million barrels last year.
If no new pipelines are built during that time, oil production would be 5.6 million barrels daily by 2040.


Emissions cut will come at a cost for Albertans

26 Jan 2016 Lethbridge Herald
A new study has found that Alberta’s climate change initiatives would result in big emission reductions but power producers would need significantly higher renewable rates to justify building wind and solar power.
The report, prepared by utilities consultant EDC Associates Ltd., looked at the impact of the NDP government’s plan to phase out coal power by 2030 and source 30 per cent of energy from renewable sources.
It found that the boost in renewables and the end of coal would mean a 45 per cent reduction in emissions, or 18.5 million fewer tonnes of carbon released into the atmosphere a year.
However, under the province’s privatized utility system, prices for renewable power would have to be between $60 to $85 per megawatt hour to justify wind power construction.
And if solar power were to make up 50 per cent of the renewables mix, power producers would need prices of between $200 and $300 per megawatt hour for solar, the study found.
Those high-rate renewable prices would fall under a separate pricing system that would encourage renewable energy installation.
The report also found that the early closure of coal power plants would mean power producers lose out on anywhere between $3 billion and $16 billion in gross operating margin, depending on how much future earnings are valued and how many years of lost production are compensated.
The NDP government has not made a clear commitment to compensate producers for the early closure of coal-fired power plants, but it has said it would treat producers “fairly” and not “unnecessarily strand capital.”
Allen Crowley, co-author of the study at EDC, said he wasn’t making any policy recommendations and was simply trying to figure out the impact of the new plan. His one recommendation was for the government to take things slow.
“The policy choices are so complicated that they really shouldn’t be going quite so fast,” said Crowley.
“It’s just too big of a thing. It’s a great, big, huge cruise ship that you’re pulling into harbour at 100 miles an hour. It’s not a good strategy.”


New electricity plan a waste of Albertans’ money

28 Jan 2016 Lethbridge Herald – Letters to the Editor

Re: “Correcting wind energy errors,” Jan. 23 Herald.

Robert Hornung, president of CanWEA, discussed “reserves” in a failed effort to pretend all is well in wind’s fantasyland. His mission was to divert attention from the fact that Albertans will pay billions for CanWEA’s and the government’s green dreams. Hornung also failed to mention that CanWEA has asked your Alberta government for subsidies as wind can’t compete because of its abysmal performance.

The annual output of wind is an unreliable 30 per cent of its nameplate capacity, but output varies a lot. For example, the weekly report for Jan. 14 to 20 showed that wind produced a pathetic 19 per cent of its capacity. Worse still, for 50 hours that week, wind produced effectively no electricity! Read the grim statistics in AESO’s weekly reports at

The government proposes to close coal plants by 2030, stating, “Two-thirds … replaced by renewable energy; one-third … by natural gas.” Most of the renewable electricity will come from wind. About 12,000 MW of new turbines will be needed to produce two-thirds of coal’s soon-to be lost 44,000 GW of power. Recently, CanWEA told our government that we need up to 15,000 MW of new renewables, including 9,000 MW of wind.

CanWEA reports that turbines cost over $2 million per megawatt. Thus, using CanWEA’s own figures, the necessary turbines will cost at least $20 billion and Albertans will pay one way or another. In addition, customers will pay billions for new transmission lines that Alberta Energy said will be needed to integrate wind. Then add a few billion for extra gas capacity and 10 billion tax dollars to buy out coal plants forced to close 30 years before the government originally planned.

We will be forced to rely solely on volatile natural gas to supply electricity during wind’s almost-daily failures. Unlike in Ontario and the U.K., Albertans do not have the luxury of a nuclear baseload. Electricity in “green” Germany costs about four times more than in Alberta, yet, they still rely on coal for 40 per cent of their power. Because of renewables’ unreliability, Germany continues to build new coal plants, the newest opening just weeks ago. Yet, our government, counselled by CanWEA, will close reliable coal.

The government’s new electricity plan will cost Albertans tens of billions of dollars directly and indirectly. Our money would be better spent on important needs. For example, the waiting period for an MRI in Shannon Phillips’ riding is nine months. A disgrace.

Clive Schaupmeyer



Wind energy has issues

By Schnarr, J.W. on January 18, 2016.

Clive Schaupmeyer spoke at the Foothills Little Bow Municipal Associaton about potential problems with the cost of wind power versus fossil fuel sources of electricity generation.

J.W. Schnarr


[email protected]

Alberta’s shift to renewable energy and away from coal is going to be bad news for Albertans, members of the Foothills Little Bow Municipal Association heard Friday.

Outdoorsman and author Clive Schaupmeyer represents a local group called the “Energy Colegium” – a group of retired professionals with a wide range of backgrounds with the goal of looking at factors regarding increasing electrical costs, and to provide municipalities with information on the electricity sector.

Schaupmeyer said the plan put forward by the province is to eliminate coal use and replace that lost energy with wind and natural gas.

“Wind and gas are key to the Alberta climate leadership plan,” he said.

“(But) is there a pot of gold out there? Or is it going to cost us a pot of gold?” he asked.

“The plan was produced in weeks in time for Paris,” said Schaupmeyer. “It may be well intentioned, but not well thought out.”

Schaupmeyer noted many people don’t realize the actual cost of renewable energy and how the plan to end coal use is going to bite into their wallets.

“We’re not saying (renewables) don’t work,” he said. “We’re saying they are expensive.”

One issue with wind farms is spatial distribution, meaning wind farms are spread out over a large area. Power has to be gathered and transported over large distances.

“In Alberta, we have the capacity for 1,463 Mw of wind, and we gather that over a huge area,” he said, noting wind energy production is gathered from an area the size of The Netherlands in southern Alberta.

Often, wind generation is only able to hit an average of 30 per cent of capacity due to periods where it slips below the five per cent threshold (considered to be zero output). That instability in power levels is a major issue for supplying power to Albertans.

In contrast, the Sheerness generating station near Hanna has a capacity of 780 Mw.

“It provides more electricity than all the wind turbines in Alberta,” Schaupmeyer said, adding coal generation also has stable output.

Another issue with wind power is that it must be backed up due to the intermittent nature of power generation. Backup is handled through the use of natural gas, but it causes a redundancy in the system as wind power and natural gas power then overlap.

“We duplicate that capacity,” said Schaupmeyer. “When you build a wind farm, you better have something to back it up.

“Wind will often be effectively redundant, and all of our electricity will be coming from natural gas when the wind is not blowing.”

Schaupmeyer compared renewable energy costs in Europe, showing how the cost of energy increased the more renewable energy was added to the system.

“How many have heard how wonderful renewables are in Germany?” he asked. “In 2014, Germany got 43 per cent of its power from coal. More than half of that is lignite.”

He said the renewable push in Germany has essentially doubled the cost of power in that country.

“And remember, Germany still has that baseload of coal that’s going to be taken away from Albertans,” he said.

“Intermittent unreliable wind has not replaced conventional fuel anywhere on Earth,” he added.

Schaupmeyer also pointed out the companies which own the bulk of wind production in the province, such as TransAlta, Enbridge, Enmax, and others, are also involved in natural gas for electricity generation.

It has been reported in the media that Alberta’s climate plan could result in $30 billion in investment in wind and natural gas electricity generation.

“So we build huge numbers of subsidized wind farms, then what do we do?” he asked. “Then we build gas generators to back up the ineffective wind. Duplication and redundancy.

“It’s really great if you are in both businesses.”

While some may point out that energy companies build the infrastructure for energy projects Schaupmeyer said those costs are inevitably passed down to Albertans.

“Sooner or later, you will pay,” he said.

Livingstone Macleod MLA Pat Stier was in attendance and said the presentation confirmed many of the things he has been hearing about renewable energy production.

“They confirmed most of the reports we’ve seen in media where, again, the failed policy that the government is trying to promote to replace coal generation and gas generation to a large extent, by renewables, will not work, is not economically viable and will cost this province billions of dollars,” he said.

“It’s nice and refreshing to see some real numbers instead of the less-than-truthful policies the government has been giving us.”


St. Albert feels tremors from earthquake near Fox Creek

By Emily Mertz and Caley Ramsay Global News

The Alberta Energy Regulator confirmed a 4.8-magnitude earthquake happened near Fox Creek Tuesday, Jan. 12, 2016.

EDMONTON – Tremors from an earthquake near Fox Creek, Alta. Tuesday were felt as far away as St. Albert, about 280 kilometres away.

The Alberta Energy Regulator confirmed the 4.8-magnitude earthquake, and initially said it was caused by hydraulic fracking. But the AER later backed away, saying it could not confirm the cause, only that it happened in an area where fracking occurs.


The AER has sent a team of investigators to the site, owned by a company called Repsol. The company has ceased operations in the area and will not be allowed to resume fracking until AER gives the go-ahead, according to AER spokesperson Carrie Rosa.

Natural Resources Canada’s preliminary findings measured the earthquake at a 4.5 magnitude. NRC said the earthquake happened at 11:27 a.m. (MST) Tuesday about 31 kilometres west of Fox Creek.

NRC said the quake was “lightly felt” in Fox Creek and St. Albert. There were no reports of damage.

“It felt like a large truck driving by,” said Fox Creek operations manager Roy Dell. “Some saw pictures shake on the wall. The Town of Fox Creek is disappointed to hear of another seismic event.”

Cory Sinclair works for the City of St. Albert. He was on the third floor of St. Albert Place when he felt a jolt at around 11:30 a.m.

“I felt a bit of a shake in the building and they were doing a bit of work on the main floor so I thought perhaps it was associated with that, and there was also a door just down the hall so I thought someone has slammed that door,” Sinclair said.

“But afterwards I realized it was in fact a tremor that we had felt.”

Sinclair said it was one single shake, not a continued shake.

“Someone had jokingly said that it might have been an earthquake, but we never suspected that at all until one of our colleagues informed us that they had heard report of seismic activity,” Sinclair said.

Ken Munroe works in St. Albert’s Campbell Business Park. He said he was sitting at his desk, working away, when he felt the quake.

“Suddenly the building shook,” he said. “It was just a bump… It felt like a truck hit the wall or something like that. It was a noticeable enough bump that the monitors shook a little bit.”

Munroe said the shake was very quick and only lasted about two seconds.

“We were sort of thinking, ‘Is it an earthquake? Is it an aftershock? How big is it? Or is it just something falling on the floor?’” he said with a laugh.

“The funny thing is that I said, ‘This feels like an earthquake.’ And, you know, everyone just started laughing at me.”

It’s not unusual for earthquakes to be reported in the Fox Creek area. There have been about 200 quakes in the area since December 2013. Alberta averages 30 earthquakes each year.

Last year, there were two 4.4 magnitude earthquakes in the area. Authorities said both quakes were the result of hydraulic fracturing in the oil and gas industry.

READ MORE: Another earthquake in Fox Creek raises concerns over hydraulic fracking 

The premier is asking that an Alberta Energy Regulator review of fracking be sped up.

“My officials have been in touch with the AER to find out exactly what the situation is and where we can get more details on that,” Notley said.

“Generally speaking the AER has been engaged in a review of fracking in particular as it relates to this issue and I’ll be asking them to speed that review up a little bit more to come up with some recommendations that we can consider sooner rather than later.”

The AER announced new requirements in February 2015, after several seismic events in the Fox Creek area. If a seismic event measuring 4.0 or greater occurs within five kilometres of an operator, it must cease operations and inform the AER. If a seismic event between 2.0 and 4.0 occurs, operators must inform AER and invoke their response plan.

The AER reports three events measuring 4.0 or greater in 2015: Jan. 14 (4.23), Jan. 23 (4.61) and June 13 (4.26).

Fox Creek is 263 kilometres northwest of Edmonton.

With files from Slav Kornik, Sarah Kraus, Global News and The Canadian Press. 

*Editor’s note: The Alberta Energy Regulator originally told Global News the earthquake was due to hydraulic fracking. However, the AER later said it could not confirm that. 

© Shaw Media, 2016