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Canadian Electricity Markets during the COVID-19 Pandemic: An Initial Assessment


  • Andrew Leach
  • Nic Rivers
  • Blake Shaffer


This article examines the effect of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic on electricity markets across select Canadian provinces, using available data. Using high-frequency electricity data, we find electricity demand declined by roughly 10 percent in Ontario and by about 5 percent in Alberta, British Columbia, and New Brunswick. On the supply side, in Alberta we find reductions from some natural gas plants and an increase in net generation from the oil sands region, whereas Ontario sees an increase in net electricity exports. Policy implications include potential rate impacts as a result of fixed charges spread over a smaller rate base, the potential use of electricity data as a real-time economic indicator during the pandemic, and a call to arms to make electricity data across all Canadian provinces more readily available.

Suggested Citation

  • Andrew Leach & Nic Rivers & Blake Shaffer, 2020. "Canadian Electricity Markets during the COVID-19 Pandemic: An Initial Assessment," Canadian Public Policy, University of Toronto Press, vol. 46(S2), pages 145-159, August.
  • Handle: RePEc:cpp:issued:v:46:y:2020:i:s2:p:s145-s159
    DOI: 10.3138/cpp.2020-060

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    Cited by:

    1. David P. Brown & David E. M. Sappington, 2023. "Employing gain-sharing regulation to promote forward contracting in the electricity sector," Journal of Regulatory Economics, Springer, vol. 63(1), pages 30-56, April.
    2. Brodeur, Abel & Cook, Nikolai & Wright, Taylor, 2021. "On the effects of COVID-19 safer-at-home policies on social distancing, car crashes and pollution," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 106(C).
    3. Olympia Bover & Natalia Fabra & Sandra García-Uribe & Aitor Lacuesta & Roberto Ramos, 2020. "Firms and households during the pandemic: what do we learn from their electricity consumption?," Occasional Papers 2031, Banco de España.
    4. Benatia, David, 2022. "Ring the alarm! Electricity markets, renewables, and the pandemic," Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 106(C).
    5. Ettore Bompard & Carmelo Mosca & Pietro Colella & Georgios Antonopoulos & Gianluca Fulli & Marcelo Masera & Marta Poncela-Blanco & Silvia Vitiello, 2020. "The Immediate Impacts of COVID-19 on European Electricity Systems: A First Assessment and Lessons Learned," Energies, MDPI, vol. 14(1), pages 1-22, December.
    6. Werth, Annette & Gravino, Pietro & Prevedello, Giulio, 2021. "Impact analysis of COVID-19 responses on energy grid dynamics in Europe," Applied Energy, Elsevier, vol. 281(C).
    7. Bigerna, Simona & Bollino, Carlo Andrea & D'Errico, Maria Chiara & Polinori, Paolo, 2022. "COVID-19 lockdown and market power in the Italian electricity market," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 161(C).
    8. Fezzi, Carlo & Fanghella, Valeria, 2021. "Tracking GDP in real-time using electricity market data: Insights from the first wave of COVID-19 across Europe," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 139(C).
    9. Costa, Vinicius B.F. & Pereira, Lígia C. & Andrade, Jorge V.B. & Bonatto, Benedito D., 2022. "Future assessment of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the electricity market based on a stochastic socioeconomic model," Applied Energy, Elsevier, vol. 313(C).
    10. Lazo, Joaquín & Aguirre, Gerson & Watts, David, 2022. "An impact study of COVID-19 on the electricity sector: A comprehensive literature review and Ibero-American survey," Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, Elsevier, vol. 158(C).
    11. Mauritzen, Johannes, 2021. "The Covid-19 shock on a low-carbon grid: Evidence from the nordics," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 156(C).
    12. Yukseltan, E. & Kok, A. & Yucekaya, A. & Bilge, A. & Aktunc, E. Agca & Hekimoglu, M., 2022. "The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and behavioral restrictions on electricity consumption and the daily demand curve in Turkey," Utilities Policy, Elsevier, vol. 76(C).
    13. Shen,Chang & Alberini,Anna & Timilsina,Govinda R., 2022. "The Impact of COVID-19 on Electricity Generation : An Empirical Investigation," Policy Research Working Paper Series 10116, The World Bank.
    14. Cicala, Steve, 2023. "JUE Insight: Powering work from home," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 133(C).


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