Electricity Annual Trade Summary – 2018

In 2018, electricity exports returned to usual volumes, after the record breaking volumes exported in 2016 and 2017. Import volumes increased 33% from 2017 levels. Net exports were valued at $2.4 billion, and the average export price increased 18% since 2017. In 2018, the average import price was the highest in the past four years.

In general, electricity trade levels are impacted by prices, weather, and regional supply and demand factors. Regional supply factors include availability of surplus generation, supply outages, and precipitation levels. Regional demand factors include seasonal and daily temperature variations and industrial use patterns. All these factors combined contribute to the variability of trade levels from year to year. For more information about electricity markets refer to the electricity Market Snapshots.

Table 1: Summary of Electricity Trade

Table 1: Summary of Electricity Trade
  2014 2015 2016 2017 2018
Volume (TW.h)
Exports (Sales) 58.4 68.3 73.1 72.0 61.4
Imports (Purchases) 12.8 8.7 9.3 9.9 13.2
Net Exports 45.6 59.5 63.8 62.1 48.2
Price ($/MW.h)
Exports (Sales) 47.59 43.63 38.47 38.57 45.41
Imports (Purchases) 45.90 34.15 26.34 24.11 38.63
ValueTable Note a ($ billions)
Exports (Sales) 2.9 3.1 2.9 2.9 2.9
Imports (Purchases) 0.6 0.3 0.3 0.2 0.5
Net Exports 2.3 2.8 2.7 2.7 2.4

Source: NEB Commodity Tracking System Statistics as of March 2019.
Numbers may not add up due to rounding

The data on this page are provided in EXCEL format (.XLSX) and are updated annually. Import and export data is filed with the National Energy Board (NEB) 30 days after the end of each month. For the latest export and import data, including updates and revisions, please visit the Commodity Statistics portal.

Figure Data [EXCEL 99 KB] – Updated March 2018

Contact cts-ssp@neb-one.gc.ca for further information.

Export and Import Volumes

Net Exports

Figure 1 shows that electricity net export volumes decreased 22% from 62.1 TW.h in 2017 to 48.2 TW.h in 2018.

Exports

In 2018, export volumes were 61.4 TW.h, a decrease of 15% from the previous year. British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, and Nova Scotia exporting significantly less volumes than the previous year. In general, export volumes were similar to 2014, with increased volumes in 2015, 2016, and 2017. Historically, provinces with significant hydro-based generation (British Columbia, Manitoba, and Quebec) have exported large amounts of power, and high export years usually coincide with high precipitation years.

Imports

In 2018, purchased electricity imports increased 33% over 2017 levels, from 9.9 TW.h to 13.2 TW.h. Import volumes during 2015 were the lowest annual volumes in nearly 20 years at 8.7 TW.h.

In general, electricity imports help avoid the costs of building additional generation in Canada that would sit idle at non-peak times. Canadian provinces have a greater capacity to exchange electricity with American states along north-south interconnections than between neighboring Canadian provinces. Therefore, although electricity pricing in U.S. markets is usually higher than in Canadian markets, provinces frequently import electricity from the U.S. when domestic supply is limited; transmission capacity from other Canadian jurisdictions is constrained; or at times of the day when prices in the U.S. are low.

Figure 1: Yearly and Monthly Electricity Trade Volumes

Source and Description

Source: NEB Commodity Tracking System Statistics as of March 2019: Table 1 – Exports and Imports of Electricity

Figure Description: This figure shows yearly and monthly electricity trade volumes since 2014.

In 2018, export volumes were 61.4 TW.h, import volumes were 13.2 TW.h. and net export volumes were 48.2 TW.h.
In 2017, export volumes were 72.0 TW.h, import volumes were 9.9 TW.h. and net export volumes were 62.1 TW.h.
In 2016, export volumes were 73.1 TW.h, import volumes were 9.3 TW.h. and net export volumes were 63.8 TW.h.
In 2015, exports volumes were 68.3 TW.h, import volumes were 8.7 TW.h. and net export volumes were 59.5 TW.h.
In 2014, export volumes were 58.4 TW.h, import volumes were 12.8 TW.h. and net export volumes were 45.6 TW.h.

Figure 2: Yearly and Monthly Electricity Trade Values

The figure below shows yearly and monthly electricity trade values. Over the five year period, the highest import and exports values occurred in January 2014 during an extended cold period, when exports reached $0.43 billion and imports reached $0.12 billion. February 2015 had the highest net export value over the five year period, reaching $0.34 billion. At $0.36 billion, January was the month with the highest‑valued exports during 2018. November was the month with the highest‑valued imports at $0.07 billion.

Source and Description

Source: NEB Commodity Tracking System Statistics as of March 2019: Table 1 – Exports and Imports of Electricity

Figure Description: This figure shows yearly and monthly electricity trade values since 2014.

In 2018, export values were $2.91 billion, import values were $0.51 billion and net export values were $2.40 billion.
In 2017, export values were $2.93 billion, import values were $0.24 billion and net export values were $2.69 billion.
In 2016, export values were $2.90 billion, import values were $0.25 billion and net export values were $2.65 billion.
In 2015 export values were $3.11 billion, import values were $0.30 billion and net export values were $2.81 billion.
In 2014, export values were $2.91 billion, import values were $0.59 billion and net export values were $2.32 billion.

Regional Export Volumes

Electricity trade typically occurs in a north-south direction, across the boundary between the U.S. and Canada along international power lines. Generally, the distances between Canadian generation and U.S. demand regions are shorter than the distances between generation and demand regions from one province to another. Therefore, larger electricity volumes flow internationally rather than inter-provincially.

Figure 3 illustrates the flow of gross electricity exports from Canadian provinces to the following U.S. geographical regions: the West, Midwest, and East. The U.S. East region is further divided into the PJM (the Pennsylvania-New Jersey-Maryland Interconnection), NYISO (the New York Independent System Operator) and ISO-NE (the Independent System Operator of New England) markets. The boundaries of these markets do not always coincide with the state boundaries used in NEB statistics; therefore, data attributed to these markets is approximate. Note that some small trade flows have been omitted, including the electricity exported from Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Nova Scotia.

Figure 3: Annual Electricity Export Flows

Source and Description

Source: NEB Commodity Tracking System Statistics as of March 2019: Table 2A – Export Summary Report by Source; and Table 3A – Export Sales Summary Report by Destination

Figure Description: Figure 3 shows the major flows of electricity exported from Canadian provinces to five U.S. geographical regions (gross exports):  the West, Midwest, and the East which is further divided up into the PJM (Pennsylvania-New Jersey-Maryland) Interconnection, the NYISO (New York Independent System Operator) and the ISO-NE (the Independent System Operator of New England). The left side of the figure shows the provinces that exported (sold) electricity to the U.S. The right side shows the U.S. region that imported (purchased) those electricity volumes.

In 2018, the following regions received Canada’s exported electricity:

  • the U.S. West received 15%
    the U.S. Midwest received 23%
    the PJM region, in the east, received nearly 1%
    the ISO-NE region, in the east, received 31%
    the NYISO region, in the east,  received 30%

The U.S. Northeast, a relatively small region buys the majority of Canadian exports, the bulk of which is shared between the ISO-NE and NYISO markets. This is due to the extensive grid interconnection that exists with Quebec.

Prices

Figure 4 shows the average export and import prices since 2010. The Canadian monthly weighted average export price peaked in January 2014 at $87.23 per MW.h. The Canadian monthly weighted average import price peaked in January 2014 at $99.05 MW.h. Seasonal price volatility and weather patterns in some years affected certain prices more significantly than others. 

Figure 4: Monthly Electricity Trade Prices

Source and Description

Source: NEB Commodity Tracking System Statistics as of March 2019 Table 1 – Exports and Imports of Electricity Summary

Figure Description: This figure shows the average export and import prices from 2010 to 2018 for all of Canada and by region. The ‘West’ includes British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba. The ‘East’ includes Ontario, Quebec, Newfoundland and Labrador, New Brunswick, and Nova Scotia. Canadian electricity exports prices peaked in January 2014, when they reached $87.23/MW.h. and import prices peaked at the same time reaching $99.05/MW.h. In 2018, export prices ranged from $35.77/MW.h and $62.43 MW.h. Import prices in 2018 ranged from $18.40/MW.h to $83.86/MW.h.

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