Market Snapshot: Canada’s electricity exports rise to record levels in 2016, but revenue declines

Release date: 2017-06-28

Canadian electricity export volumes increased 7% to reach a record-high 73 terawatt-hours (TW.h) in 2016. Quebec remained Canada’s largest electricity exporter, followed by Ontario, British Columbia (B.C.), and Manitoba, respectively. In 2016, these four provinces accounted for 95% of total Canadian exports, all of which go to the United States (U.S.). The primary markets for Canadian exports remained the same: New York, California, Vermont, Minnesota, North Dakota, Michigan, and Maine.

Revenue from electricity exports dropped 6% in 2016 after reaching a seven-year high in 2015. This was mainly because of lower U.S. wholesale prices in destination markets. In 2016, Canada earned around $40 per megawatt hour (MW.h) for its exports compared to $46/MW.h in 2015. With the exception of 2014, Canadian electricity export volumes have been increasing steadily since 2010.

Source and Description

Source: NEB Commodity Statistics

Description: This bar graph shows annual Canadian electricity export volumes from Quebec, Ontario, B.c., Manitoba and all other provinces from 2006 to 2016. It is overlaid with a line series showing electricity export revenue in billions of dollars. In 2016, total electricity export volumes increased by 7%, but export revenue dropped by 6%. From 2006 to 2016, Quebec’s export volumes increased from 12 TW.h to 26 TW.h. Ontario’s exports increased from 10 TW.h in 2006 to 19 TW.h in 2008, decreased to 11 TW.h in 2010 and 2011, then increased again to 20 TW.h in 2016. For B.C., export volumes increased from 5 TW.h in 2006 to 10 TW.h in 2007. They then decreased to 5 TW.h in 2010, increased to 11 TW.h in 2012, decreased to 7 TW.h in 2013 and 2014, then increased to 14 TW.h in 2016. For Manitoba, export volumes fluctuated between 8 to 10 TW.h from 2006 to 2016. Export volumes from all other provinces started at 3 TW.h in 2006, decreased to 1 TW.h from 2010 to 2012, then increased to 4 TW.h in 2016. Total Canadian gross export revenue started at $2.3 billion in 2006, increased to $3.6 billion in 2008, then decreased to $1.8 billion in 2012. It then increased to $3.0 billion in 2015 then dropped by 6% to $2.8 billion in 2016.

In 2016, export volumes from Quebec reached about 26 TW.h, up 8.5% from the previous year. New York accounted for almost 11 TW.h or 42% of these Quebec exports. Ontario exports in 2016 accounted for roughly 20 TW.h. The majority of these exports were sent to Michigan and New York. In 2016, Manitoba exported about 10 TW.h to Minnesota and North Dakota.

B.C. set a new export volume record in 2016 of almost 14 TW.h. Exports to California increased 45% from the previous year and almost reached 11 TW.h. B.C. also accounted for 89% of Canada’s electricity imports in 2016, largely because of its strategy to import power when prices are low and export power when prices are high. B.C. was able to import at an average price of $25/MW.h in 2016 while selling at an average price of $37/MW.h.

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