Market Snapshot: Canadian electricity exports to the U.S. focused on renewable power exports to specific markets

Release date: 2017-08-16

Since 2012, eastern Canada has been the source of about 70% of Canada’s electricity export volumes. The remaining 30% originate from western Canada. Most eastern Canadian exports are from Quebec and Ontario to New York and Vermont, while most western Canadian exports are from British Columbia and Manitoba to California, Minnesota, and North Dakota. Total Canadian electricity export volumes rose to record levels in 2016, but export revenues declined due to lower prices.

Electricity exports from western and eastern Canada
by United States (U.S.) region, 2012-2016

Source and Description

Source: NEB

Description: The graph shows annual electricity exports (in terawatt hours (TW.h)) from 2012 to 2016, organized by exporting province and importing region (U.S. West, U.S. Midwest, U.S. East: Pennsylvania-New Jersey-Maryland Interconnection (PJM), U.S. East: New York, and U.S. East: New England.

From 2012 to 2016, annual electricity export volumes from eastern Canada averaged 0 TW.h to the U.S. West, 7.4 TW.h to the U.S. Midwest, 1.4 TW.h to the U.S. East: PJM, 18.0 TW.h to the U.S. East: New York, and 17.7 TW.h to the U.S. East: New England. Over the same time period, annual electricity exports from western Canada averaged 10.3 TW.h to the U.S. West, 9.2 TW.h to the U.S. Midwest, and 0 TW.h to all areas in the U.S. East.

From 2012 to 2016, on average, 17.6 TW.h of electricity was exported from Ontario; 24.7 TW.h from Quebec, 10.2 TW.h from British Columbia; 9.1 TW.h from Manitoba, 0.2 TW.h from Alberta and Saskatchewan combined, and 2.1 TW.h from all other exporting provinces in eastern Canada.

Note that because market boundaries do not always coincide with the parameters used in NEB statistics, data attributed to these markets is approximate.

International power lines currently connect Canada to the U.S. East (Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, New York, and Massachusetts), the U.S. West (Washington and Montana), and the U.S. Midwest (North Dakota, Minnesota, and Michigan. A number of new projects have been proposed or are under development, including the Lake Erie Connector which recently received regulatory approval in Canada, as well as two applications currently before the NEB: the Manitoba-Minnesota Transmission Project and the Quebec–New Hampshire Interconnection.

Among the drivers of this development are renewable portfolio standards and renewable electricity targets in many U.S. states. These mandate minimum levels of renewable power in each state’s electricity mix and often do not distinguish between domestic and imported renewable power. As a result, exports of Canadian power, especially from Ontario and Quebec, are well positioned to grow.

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