Alberta’s Premier Danielle Smith has made her stand. Her loins girded by her Sovereignty Act, she will strike a blow against the federal government’s proposed Clean Electric Regulations (CER). On Monday her government tabled a resolution in the Alberta legislature that instructs governments and provincial entities to ignore the regulations when they come into force “to the extent legally permissible.” The resolution further raises the possibility of Alberta setting up a Crown corporation to protect private sector electricity providers.
Her nemesis, the CER, currently only in draft form, lays out the rules for getting Canada’s electricity grid to net zero emissions by 2035, consistent with the U.S. and other G7 countries.
Smith claims the deadline is impossible for the province to meet without risking blackouts and high costs for consumers. Furthermore, she says the CER will discourage investors from proposing new power generation projects.
Does she actually believe this or is this former oil lobbyist still just promoting her favourite industry? Given her government’s recent moratorium on applications for renewable energy projects, one is inclined to be cynical.
In any case, I have a second opinion which I find a tad more reliable and objective. The prestigious Pembina Institute published a report earlier this year which sees things quite differently.
The report, “Zeroing In: Pathways to unaffordable net-zero grid in Alberta,” stated that their research, carried out in collaboration with the University of Alberta, showed that “a clean electricity grid can be achieved by 2035 with cost savings to Albertans.”
The report points out that “Alberta is already seeing rapid decarbonization of its electricity grid faster than anyone has predicted. It is completing its 2030 coal phase-out by the end of this year—six years ahead of schedule—while also becoming the renewable energy capital of Canada.”
The Alberta government has refused to release the report it commissioned regarding how the CER could or could not be met.
Pembina did not mince words in its response to the government’s intention to use the Sovereignty Act to challenge the CER: “Invoking the Alberta Sovereignty within a United Canada Act in response to the Clean Electricity Regulations will drive major new investment in the energy sector out of the province. It is an investment killer. It is a step backwards, not forwards. It introduces unnecessary and theatrical red tape instead of making progress on building a clean, affordable reliable electricity grid for the province.”
The world is gathering in Dubai this week for the UN Climate Change Conference (COP28) to discuss such things as the tripling of global renewable energy generation by 2030 and the future of fossil fuels. Meanwhile Alberta, a major greenhouse gas villain, has no plan to decarbonize its electricity supply while at the same time placing a moratorium on approvals of renewable energy.
So who do I trust, a highly respected research institute or a former corporate lobbyist notorious for flaky views? Hmmmmmm—tough choice.