Electricity Annual Trade Summary – 2019

In 2019, electricity export volumes decreased 2%, while import volumes increased 2% from 2018 levels. Net exports were valued at $1.9 billion, and the average export price increased 8% since 2018. In 2019, the average import price increased 15% since 2018.

In general, electricity trade levels are impacted by regional supply and demand factors. Regional supply factors include availability of 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
  2015 2016 2017 2018 2019
Volume (TW.h)
Exports (Sales) 68.3 73.1 72.0 61.4 60.4
Imports (Purchases) 8.7 9.3 9.9 13.2 13.4
Net Exports 59.5 63.8 62.1 48.2 47.0
Price ($/MW.h)
Exports (Sales) 43.63 38.47 38.57 45.41 40.71
Imports (Purchases) 34.15 26.34 24.11 38.63 44.31
ValueTable Note a ($ billions)
Exports (Sales) 3.1 2.9 2.9 2.9 2.5
Imports (Purchases) 0.3 0.3 0.2 0.5 0.6
Net Exports 2.8 2.7 2.7 2.4 1.9

Source: CER Commodity Tracking System Statistics as of March 2020.
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 CER 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 112 KB] – Updated March 2020

Contact cts-ssp@cer-rec.gc.ca for further information.

Export and Import Volumes

Net Exports

Figure 1 shows that electricity net export volumes decreased 2% from 48.2 TW.h in 2018 to 47.0 TW.h in 2019.

Exports

In 2019, export volumes were 60.4 TW.h, a decrease of 2% from the previous year. British Columbia, Saskatchewan, and Newfoundland and Labrador exported significantly less volumes than the previous year. In general, export volumes were similar to 2018, with higher volumes in 2015, 2016, and 2017. Historically, provinces with significant hydro-based generation (British Columbia, Manitoba, Ontario, and Quebec) have exported large amounts of power, and high export years usually coincide with high precipitation years.

Imports

In 2019, purchased electricity imports increased 1% over 2018 levels, from 13.2 TW.h to 13.4 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. to meet periods of peak demand or when importing is cheaper than generating electricity regionally.

Figure 1: Yearly and Monthly Electricity Trade Volumes

Source and Description

Source: CER Commodity Tracking System Statistics as of March 2020: Table 1 – Exports and Imports of Electricity

Figure Description:
This figure shows yearly and monthly electricity trade volumes since 2015. In 2019, export volumes were 60.4 TW.h, import volumes were 13.4 TW.h. and net export volumes were 47.0 TW.h. 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.

Figure 2: Yearly and Monthly Electricity Trade Values

The figure below shows yearly and monthly electricity trade values. February 2015 had the highest net export value over the five year period, reaching $0.34 billion. At $0.27 billion, February was the month with the highest–valued exports during 2019. March was the month with the highest–valued imports at $0.15 billion.

Source and Description

Source: CER Commodity Tracking System Statistics as of March 2020: Table 1 – Exports and Imports of Electricity

Figure Description: This figure shows yearly and monthly electricity trade values since 2015. In 2019, export values were $2.52 billion, import values were $0.59 billion and net export values were $1.92 billion. 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.

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 CER 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: CER Commodity Tracking System Statistics as of March 2020: 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 2019, the following regions received Canada’s exported electricity:

  • the U.S. West received 12%
  • the U.S. Midwest received 29%
  • the PJM region, in the east, received nearly 0%
  • the ISO-NE region, in the east, received 31%
  • the NYISO region, in the east, received 28%

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 Quebec’s relatively cheap and abundant hydroelectric resources, and is facilitated by the extensive grid interconnection that exists between these regions.

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: CER Commodity Tracking System Statistics as of March 2020 Table 1 – Exports and Imports of Electricity Summary

Figure Description: This figure shows the average export and import prices from 2010 to 2019 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 2019, export prices ranged from $31.57/MW.h and $59.13/MW.h. Import prices in 2019 ranged from $24.25/MW.h to $93.09/MW.h.

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