With or without carbon capture, SaskPower has been pumping out electrical energy to keep the lights on and the engines of industry turning during the past year as the demands keep increasing.
The Crown corporation, in response to an inquiry from the Mercury, said that energy sales from 2011 to 2014 were exceptional in scope and demand with an average increase of 3.5 per cent per year.
“So far in 2015, energy sales are 1.5 per cent higher than in 2014,” said corporate spokesman Jonathan Tremblay. “We estimate the weather-adjusted energy sales in 2015 to be approximately two per cent higher than in 2014.”
With the controversial Boundary Dam No. 3 unit operating at full capacity on the electrical production side as well as on the carbon capture front for the past month, the company released some fresh statistical information to bolster their new outlook as they emerged on the other side of the controversy that saw them admitting that BD3 had definitely not functioned at optimum capacity on the carbon capture front in the first year of its operation as glitches needed to be worked out.
While electrical power demand in Saskatchewan was on the rise, overall demand for electrical power in Canada was declining.
A recent Statistics Canada report said demand dropped 3.7 per cent from September of 2014 to September 2015 to 38.5 million megawatt hours (MWh). Lower demand contributed to the 2.3 per cent decrease in total generation as power plants produced 43.7 million MWh for the month.
Exports of electricity to the United States rose 7.5 per cent to 5.8 million MWh on a year-over-year basis, as a result of greater shipments from British Columbia and Quebec. However, lower exports from Ontario tempered the growth. Imports from the U.S. declined 7.4 per cent from the same month a year earlier to 0.7 million MWh in September of this year.
Ontario was the main contributor to the national decrease in electricity generation as output declined 17 per cent from September 2014 to 10.3 million MWh. The main contributors to the decline in that province were nuclear and hydro generation. Plant outages (shutdowns or closures) helped push nuclear generation down 22.7 per cent to 6.6 million MWh, while hydro output fell 9.8 per cent to 2.7 million MWh.
Conversely, power generation was up in Quebec and British Columbia, as it was in Saskatchewan. In Quebec the hike was seven per cent while in B.C. it rose by 11.9 per cent. These two provinces, which are primarily powered by hydro plants, used the higher supply of electricity to increase exports to the United States as demand on the domestic side in both provinces decreased.
The total number of MWh generated in Saskatchewan in 2015 is not tabulated on a monthly basis, but the total for this year will be made known in the early part of 2016.