Alberta Premier Danielle Smith says the federal government’s goal of reaching a net-zero power grid by 2035 is unrealistic and Albertans should be protected from the “destructive and unconstitutional” federal policies coming from Ottawa.
The Premier said on Monday she will put the first Alberta Sovereignty within a United Canada Act into motion, which challenges the federal government’s requirement for a net-zero electricity grid by 2035.
The act was approved in December last year and allows the province to refuse to enforce specific federal laws or policies that violate the jurisdictional rights of Albertans.
Smith said via social media that after months of meetings, the federal government continues to reject the province’s emissions-reduction efforts and plan to reach a carbon-neutral power grid by 2050.
“We are left with no choice but to create a shield to protect Albertans from Ottawa’s dangerous and unconstitutional electricity regulations,” Smith said via X.
Smith claims that the Clean Electricity Regulations, which are set to come into force on Jan. 1, 2025′– propose unrealistic rules with criminal code violations to achieve net-zero electricity by 2035.
According to the Premier, the province’s grid needs more baseload power from natural gas and the regulations create uncertainty and drive away investment.
She said her government will not put Albertans and their businesses at risk of freezing in the dark at -30 C “due to the federal government’s proposed unaffordable, unreliable and unconstitutional Clean Electricity Regulations (CERs).”
“The courts are on our side, science and logic are on our side, the Constitution is on our side – electricity generation is the jurisdiction of the provinces, not the federal government,” Alberta Minister of Affordability and Utilities Nathan Neudork said in a statement.
“It is our responsibility to provide safe, reliable and affordable electricity to all Albertans without interference from Ottawa. This is what we are doing and will continue to do.”
Premier’s decision is unnecessary and politically driven, ministers say
In response, Minister of Environment and Climate Change Steven Guilbeault and Minister of Energy and Natural Resources Jonathan Wilkinson said that over the past several months they have tried to engage the Alberta government on clean electricity investments and draft clean energy regulations via a Canada-Alberta working group.
However, the Ministers said that at no point in time, representatives from the Premier’s office raised the Premier’s intent to introduce the Sovereignty Act motion on the draft regulations.
“The Premier has instead chosen to spend millions of hard-earned Albertan taxpayer dollars on a national anti-clean electricity advertisement campaign that has no basis in fact,” reads the statement by the Ministers.
“Today’s decision by the Premier is thus unnecessary and appears to be entirely politically driven.”
According to the think tank, Pembina Institute, the province can affordably cut net emissions by 2035 if it adopts more wind and solar energy projects.
Smith’s moratorium on renewable electricity puts a halt to $33 billion in investments and thousands of jobs, according to the Ministers.
— Jonathan Wilkinson 🇨🇦 (@JonathanWNV) November 27, 2023
What does the Clean Electricity Regulations Act do?
Last August, the federal government released the first Clean Electricity Regulations Act, which will apply to grid-connected fossil fuel generation units of 25 MW or greater. The draft projects close to $29 billion in net benefits between 2024-2050 from reduced greenhouse gas emissions and operational savings.
The proposed Clean Electricity Regulations (CER) in Canada are poised to bring about substantial changes for gas companies, particularly in the realm of emission standards for fossil gas units.
Under the CER, a near-zero emissions standard has been set for fossil-powered electricity generation, but it permits fossil gas units to emit up to 150 kilotonnes of carbon dioxide annually, with a maximum operational time of 450 hours per year.
This translates to approximately 5 per cent of the total hours in a year at full capacity.
The implications extend to cost considerations for fuel companies, as the increasing demand for cleaner fuels may result in higher expenses, such as the procurement of additional biofuels.
The Parliamentary Budget Office forecasts a potential 17 cents per litre price hike at the pump by 2030 due to these regulations. Despite the financial implications, the act is anticipated to make significant strides in reducing Canada’s greenhouse gas emissions by 342 million tonnes from 2024 to 2050.
Moreover, it aims to achieve a reduction in household energy costs by either 10 per cent or 12 per cent, contingent on economic analyses.
In essence, while the regulations propel the nation toward a cleaner electricity grid and align with climate targets, gas companies must navigate stricter emission standards and potential cost adjustments to facilitate Canada’s accelerated transition toward net-zero electricity.