Market Snapshot: 2015 a Record-Setting Year for Canadian Electricity Exports

Release date : 2016-03-17

Canadian electricity exports surpassed previous records in 2015, with net export volumes of almost 60 terawatt hours (TW.h) and net export revenues of $2.8 billion.

With regard to volumes, increasing exports and decreasing imports pushed 2015 net exports over the previous 52 TW.h record set in 2013. Imports from the U.S. fell below 9 TW.h in 2015, the lowest amount in almost twenty years. Exports surpassed 68 TW.h, a 17 per cent increase over 2014. Overall, Canada’s net electricity exports increased by over 14 TW.h and were 30 per cent higher in 2015 than in 2014.

Canada also earned 20 per cent more in net revenue (i.e. income from exports minus the cost of the imports) in 2015 compared to 2014. In fact, 2015 net revenues surpassed the previous record of $2.5 billion set in 2008.

Figure Source and Data

Source: NEB Statistics

Description: This chart shows annual Canadian electricity exports, imports, and net revenue from 2006 to 2015. Two sets of columns show export sales volumes and import purchase volumes, and a horizontal line depicts net revenues in Canadian dollars. Exports and net revenue generally follow the same trend of rising from 2006-2008, declining from 2008-2010, and then increasing to record highs in 2015. Imports follow a more varied pattern during this ten year span, but were at a ten year low in 2015.

Québec, Ontario, Manitoba, and British Columbia (B.C.) account for more than 95% of Canadian electricity export volumes. More than half of the 2015 increase in net exports can be attributed to a 7.4 TW.h increase in net exports from B.C., which also strategically buys and sells electricity to maximize revenue. Aside from B.C., the other main contributor to increased Canadian net exports was Ontario, which added 3.6 TW.h.

Several factors led to the 2015 increase in Canadian exports. Droughts in the United States (U.S.) Pacific Northwest and California reduced hydro generation in these areas, while cold temperatures in the U.S. Northeast increased demand for electricity in that region. Relatively high U.S. prices compared to Canadian prices also supported increased exports.

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