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Ontario seeks new electricity generation as demand rises, nuclear plant to be retired – CP24 Toronto's Breaking News

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Ontario’s electricity system is searching for more power producers as demand rises and a major nuclear plant nears retirement, a process likely to secure more natural gas generation while the government seeks to end reliance on it.

It means that for at least the next two decades, greenhouse gas emissions from the electricity sector are set to increase. 

But the electricity system operator says Ontario is already using hydro to its max, while solar and wind power rely on the weather, and natural gas generation can provide the reliability and flexibility needed to support green initiatives and an ensuing increase in electricity demand, such as from electric vehicles and electric arc furnaces in steelmaking. 

By about 2038, the Independent Electricity System Operator projects the net greenhouse gas emission reductions from electric vehicles will offset electricity sector emissions.

While the IESO has acknowledged that more gas generation will be needed in the near term, Energy Minister Todd Smith has asked it to explore a moratorium on new gas plants.

“We want to get to net zero in the electricity grid,” Smith said in an interview. 

But he noted that an IESO report last year examining whether natural gas generation could be phased out by 2030 found that it would lead to rotating blackouts and higher electricity bills.

“We have to ensure that we have a reliable system and one that’s affordable, and if we have an affordable electricity system, then we’re going to see electrification happen in other areas to reduce emissions,” he said. 

Interim NDP leader Peter Tabuns, also the party’s energy critic, said it’s hard to reconcile the pursuit of more gas generation at the same time as exploring a moratorium.

“They’re stepping on the gas and hitting the brake at the same time,” he said. 

“I would say that their interest in getting more proposals for gas plants is probably far more an indicator of where they’re going than any words about ‘Tell us what we can do about reducing gas burning in the future.'”

Rupp Carriveau, director of the Environmental Energy Institute at the University of Windsor, said Ontario should wean itself off natural gas generation, but it’s very difficult to do.

“It’s incredibly reliable, it’s quite efficient, and it until recently had been quite cost-effective,” he said. 

“But to me it’s a little bit disappointing that there isn’t more of a focus on pushing more renewables even though they are apples and oranges, for sure.”

Renewable energy in Ontario comes with a fair amount of political baggage. Electricity prices became a major source of anger ahead of the 2018 election that saw the Liberals reduced from a majority government to losing official party status. 

Bills had roughly doubled over the course of a decade due in part to the Liberals’ green energy initiatives, which saw consumers pay above-market rates to power producers who had long-term contracts.

The Progressive Conservatives cancelled 750 of those contracts during their first term, saying the province didn’t need the power and the contracts were driving up costs for ratepayers.

Tabuns said those cancellations have made the supply situation worse.

“There’s just no two ways about it,” he said. 

The energy minister said while Ontario is looking at a supply gap “for a short period of time until we get those nuclear reactors back on the grid,” cancelling the green energy contracts was the right thing to do

“Those projects were going to continue to make the system unreliable and expensive,” Smith said. 

“They weren’t going to fill the reliable affordable electricity gap that we’re experiencing. We’ve seen that unfortunately, with renewables, they’re not able to fill the gap on a reliable basis. So we would continue to have to back up with other forms of generation to balance the need.”

The Pickering Nuclear Generating Station – which accounted for 14 per cent of electricity generation last year – is set to start a phased shutdown in 2024. 

Other nuclear units are undergoing refurbishment this decade, with several out of service at a time in overlapping schedules. The IESO says it’s confident it can fill the nuclear gap with the procurement it’s undertaking.

But even as those units come back online, the IESO projects a growing supply gap of electricity, as broader electrification takes off, particularly in the transportation sector.

Demand from growth in electric vehicles and electrifying public transportation is expected to rise much more quickly starting in about 2035. Around then, the projected gap between needed and available electricity is expected to hit 5,000 megawatts – enough to power five million homes – during the summer, even if all current power producers renew their contracts.

A spokesperson for the IESO said the current procurement process will address Ontario’s resource needs into the next decade, and the operator is looking at adding more in order to keep the grid reliable over the long term.

It is looking to include more non-emitting resources to the generation portfolio, including small modular nuclear reactors and storage capacity, as well as new energy efficiency programs.

Smith asked the IESO to provide recommendations this month on new conservation initiatives. It is also set to report back to him in November on the potential gas moratorium as well as a plan to get to zero emissions in the electricity sector. 

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 17, 2022.

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Quebec pension giant Caisse takes $33.6 billion investment hit in worst markets in 50 years – Financial Post

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Pension fund writes off $150-million investment in bankrupt Celsius

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The Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec posted a negative return of 7.9 per cent for the first six months of the year, in what chief executive Charles Emond noted was the worst period for stock and bond markets over the past 50 years.

As of June 30, the Caisse had net assets of $392 billion, with the $28.2-billion decrease due to investment losses of $33.6 billion offset by $5.4 billion in net deposits. The losses included a full write off of the fund’s US$150 million investment in crypto lender Celsius Network LLC, which is now in Chapter 11 bankruptcy proceedings in the United States.

“The first six months of the year were very challenging,” Emond said in a statement. “The mix of factors we faced had not been witnessed in several decades: spiking inflation that triggered rapid and sharp interest rate hikes, rare simultaneous corrections in both stock and bond markets, fears of an economic downturn and the war in Ukraine with its many collateral effects.”

Over the same period, the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan Board reported a positive return of 1.2 per cent on Monday.

During a news conference Wednesday to discuss the Caisse results, Emond said the Quebec pension fund wrote off the Celsius crypto investment even though it is considering its legal options and intends to preserve its rights in the court-monitored U.S. bankruptcy proceedings.

“We decided to take it now” out of prudence, Emond said of the writeoff. “The last chapter hasn’t been written.”

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He said his team conducted extensive due diligence with outside experts and consultants. They were aware of management and regulatory issues at Celsius and underestimated the time it would take to resolve them, he said, adding the Caisse was keen on “seizing the potential of block chain technology” and perhaps the investment in Celsius had been made “too soon” in the company’s development.

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He noted that the investment was a very small part of a large venture portfolio that has produced 35 per cent returns over the past five years.

“In these disruptive technologies, there’s ups and downs…. Some big winners and many losers,” Emond said.

Although the Caisse posted an overall return in negative territory for the first six months of the year, the performance exceeded that of its benchmark portfolio — which posted a negative return of 10.5 per cent.

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“Over five and 10 years, annualized returns were 6.1 per cent and 8.3 per cent respectively, also outpacing benchmark portfolio returns,” the pension manager noted.

Emond said the Caisse is managing the “turbulence” with a combination of asset diversification and strategic adjustments made since the COVID-19 pandemic began.

“For the past two years, we’ve been working in an environment of extremes characterized by particularly fast and pronounced changes. These unusual and unstable conditions will persist for some time,” he said.

“In the short term, we’ll be watching what central banks do to contain inflation and how that impacts the economy.”

  1. The Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan board eked out a 1.2 per cent return in the first half of the year.

    Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan Board ekes out small return in ‘difficult’ markets

  2. The Canada Pension Plan Investment Board reported a 4.2 per cent loss, equivalent to $23 billion, for the three months ending June 30.

    CPPIB breaks winning streak with $23-billion loss amid ‘market turbulence’

  3. In July, crypto lender Celsius Network filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection and owes users about US$4.7 billion.

    Canadian watchdogs join probe of Celsius’ multi-billion-dollar collapse, sources say

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During the first six months of the year, negative returns in equities and fixed income were partially offset by gains in the Caisse’s investments in real assets including infrastructure and real estate.

The pension giant posted a negative return of 13.1 per cent in fixed income, which beat the negative 15.1 per cent return for its benchmark portfolio. This represented nearly $3 billion in “value added” attributable to all credit activities, the Caisse said.

A negative return of 16 per cent in equities beat the negative 17.2 per cent return in the benchmark portfolio.

The Caisse’s real estate and infrastructure portfolios, meanwhile, generated a 7.9 per cent six-month return, “demonstrating their diversifying role which contributes to limiting inflation’s impact on the total portfolio.”

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The real asset class performance also beat the benchmark portfolio’s return, which was 2.4 per cent.

“So that asset class played its role. The two portfolios are doing well,” Emond said.

He said it is challenging to compare the short-term performance of Canadian pension funds because they have e different mandates and investment models. The Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan, for example, has less exposure to equity markets than the Caisse and more exposure to natural resources and commodities, which performed well in the first half of the year.

• Email: bshecter@postmedia.com | Twitter:

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Air Canada says its baggage handling success rate is back to 98% – Yahoo Canada Finance

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Air Canada travellers wait at the check-in area as baggage handlers at Pierre Elliott Trudeau airport walked off the job, causing cancellations and delay, in Montreal March 23, 2012. REUTERS/Olivier Jean (CANADA - Tags: BUSINESS EMPLOYMENT CIVIL UNREST TRANSPORT)

Air Canada travellers wait at the check-in area as baggage handlers at Pierre Elliott Trudeau airport walked off the job, causing cancellations and delay, in Montreal March 23, 2012. REUTERS/Olivier Jean (CANADA – Tags: BUSINESS EMPLOYMENT CIVIL UNREST TRANSPORT)

Air Canada says it has improved its service levels through the summer, reducing wait times and cancellations and bringing its baggage mishandling rate back to 2019 levels.

The Montreal-based airline provided an update on Wednesday on the operational improvement initiatives that have been underway as the company grapples with numerous challenges in the post-pandemic recovery.

Air Canada says that from the week of June 27 to the week of August 8, it saw the strongest improvement in baggage handling. While the company did not disclose its baggage mishandling rate, it says that the rate during the week of June 27 was 2.5 times the rate in 2019, before the pandemic hit. As of Aug. 8, Air Canada says the rate has returned to pre-pandemic levels, with a baggage handling success rate of 98 per cent.

The airline has also experienced a reduction in flight delays of more than one hour between, with 1,160 fewer flights per week facing longer delays. Air Canada also says delays are getting shorter, with the average arrival delay improving from 28 minutes longer than 2019 levels in the week of June 27, to 12 minutes longer than 2019 levels in the week of Aug. 8.

The number of flights cancelled fell 77 per cent between June 27 and Aug. 8. The airline’s flight completion rate reached 96.7 per cent, less than one percentage point lower than in the same week in 2019.

“We know how much our customers value travel and their reliance on us to transport them safely, comfortably and without disruption. This is always our goal and we share with them their disappointment that, coming out of the pandemic, the global industry faltered due to the unprecedented challenges of restarting after a two-year, virtual shutdown,” Air Canada chief executive Michael Rousseau said in a statement on Wednesday.

“While I am very satisfied with the progress to date… we all continue to work hard on behalf of our customers to complete our recovery.”

Air Canada says it currently operates an average of nearly 1,100 flights per day and it will operate 79 per cent of its pre-pandemic schedule through the summer. It now employs 34,000 workers, slightly below the 34,700 that were on staff before the pandemic.

Despite the improvements, Air Canada’s stock was trading down nearly 2 per cent on the Toronto Stock Exchange as of 1 p.m. ET.

RBC Capital Markets analyst Walter Spracklin says the improvements are a key positive for the airline, and reinforce that “the worst is behind them in terms of travel disruptions.”

“Taken together, these improvements should offer greater confidence to Air Canada’s customer base,” Spracklin said.

“Looking ahead, we hope to see capacity growth as the system gains resilience from the summer travel boom.”

Air Canada apologized to customers earlier this month for the operational instability seen in the post-pandemic ramp-up that came after travel demand surged for the first time in more than two years. The increase in demand strained the global air transport system and resulted in challenges for Air Canada and chaos at some of the country’s biggest airports.

The airline had pointed to challenges throughout the system as a key source of the issues, including resource challenges that impacted airport security screening, Canada and U.S. border customs processing, air traffic control, maintenance providers, equipment, supply chain, aircraft catering and fuelling partners. Air Canada also says a series of mechanical failures at airport baggage handling systems contributed to ongoing issues.

Alicja Siekierska is a senior reporter at Yahoo Finance Canada. Follow her on Twitter @alicjawithaj.

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Hudson's Bay resurrecting Zellers a decade after most locations closed – CBC News

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