Industry consumes well over half of all electricity in Saskatchewan, efficiencies must be made a priority: Report

November 30, 2010

Regina — In the next ten years, industry will consume close to two-thirds of Saskatchewan’s electrical generation, with mining, steel, chemicals, oil refining and upgrading poised to consume 46.8% of the province’s electricity alone. That is one of the startling findings in a new report released by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives’ Saskatchewan Office.

Transforming Saskatchewan’s Electrical Future: Using Electricity More Efficiently, authored by Mark Bigland Pritchard, argues that our province needs to adopt a comprehensive energy conservation and efficiency program to combat industry’s voracious appetite for cheap, publically subsidized power.

For instance, Bigland-Pritchard observes that the proposed Jansen Lake potash mine will require Saskpower to invest in new generating capacity to service the mine’s electricity needs, but will receive payment from BHP Billiton at a price far less that what it will cost to provide power to the mine.

“Because electricity is available to such large operations at such a low price,” Bigland-Pritchard states, ”they have very little incentive to pursue efficiency and conservation.” According to the report this creates a “triple burden” for the people of Saskatchewan of higher compensatory electricity prices, increased costs of new investment in power generation and increased greenhouse gas emissions.

By adopting a rigorous conservation and efficiency program, the provincial government could realize substantial efficiency savings immediately. The report outlines a few key policies that could make Saskatchewan a leader in electrical efficiency and conservation.

  • Raise rates for heavy industrial users. These users currently pay about half as much per unit as residential customers. This could incentivize efficiency gains among the most profligate users.
  • Establish a “feebate” scheme for each industrial sector, whereby more profligate users of energy (per unit of production) are charged an additional fee, which is passed on to more efficient users as a rebate.
  • Prioritize the shift to a “smart grid,” through the use of innovations like smart meters, price signalling and phasor measurement units. 
  • Provide incentives for industrial combined heat and power. 
  • Establish training courses at SIAST in energy efficiency for all relevant trades

Adoption of these measures by the provincial government, SaskPower and other government funded bodies will not only benefit the people of Saskatchewan, but will also benefit industry by encouraging practices and habits that will lead to long-term cost savings. Implementing these specific measures as a package should be a high priority, as it is a critical step toward creating a self-reinforcing culture of efficiency in Saskatchewan.

For further information on the report or answers to questions, please contact the author, Mark Bigland-Pritchard by phone at: (306) 997 5721
Or via email at: [email protected]