Connect with us
[the_ad id="89560"]

Alberta

Federal electricity regulations threaten Albertans with high costs and power outages

Published

11 minute read

Alberta responds to dangerous federal electricity regulations

Alberta has submitted detailed analysis showing why proposed federal regulations will threaten the province’s electricity grid.

Alberta is rapidly reducing emissions and targeting a carbon-neutral grid by 2050. Electricity emissions have declined by 53 per cent since 2005 and the province will have phased-out all coal generation by early 2024.

However, in August, the federal government released its draft Clean Electricity Regulations, which propose rigid rules to try and achieve net-zero electricity by 2035.

Based on expert analysis and industry consultations, Alberta’s government has submitted a detailed response outlining the technical problems with these regulations. The province’s analysis found that these regulations are unrealistic, ineffective and could compromise grid reliability to an unacceptable degree, resulting in the very real risk that Albertans will not have access to an essential service, like power, when they need it.

“These regulations are irresponsible and reckless, setting unrealistic targets and even banking on technologies that don’t exist. They will result in Albertans shouldering an unbearable cost for an electricity system that will no longer deliver the safety, reliability and affordability upon which our lives depend. We will not permit these dangerous and unconstitutional regulations to be imposed upon our province.”

Danielle Smith, Premier

“The standards and enforcement that Ottawa is proposing would put the safe, reliable and openly competitive market of Alberta’s electricity system at risk, all for targets that aren’t feasible or realistic. We cannot allow the reliability of our electricity to be compromised and risk public safety during the coldest months of the year, when people need the power most. We urge Ottawa to abandon these regulations and work with us on a realistic path that aligns with our own emissions-reduction goals.”

Rebecca Schulz, Minister of Environment and Protected Areas

Some of the key problems outlined in Alberta’s technical submission include:

Flawed modelling creates unrealistic targets

The modelling tools used by the federal government lack the capability to properly assess Alberta’s energy-only market, including the province’s large share of cogeneration. The federal tools also use incomplete proxies to evaluate system reliability, leading them to drastically underestimate the negative impacts.

The federal modelling also relies heavily on technologies that are currently not ready to be deployed, assuming that they will soon be easily or quickly available. As a result, the federal modelling offers an unreliable and inaccurate picture of the costs, impacts on reliability and outcomes of these regulations. With better modelling, the federal targets would be unachievable.

Unachievable standards

The regulations propose unachievable emission standards, with limited flexibility and using a rigid approach that will not work. The standard is also based on unproven design specifications that will be very challenging for operators to meet, even under optimal conditions, and potentially impossible given the operational variability that occurs in electricity grids on a daily basis.

Notably, Ottawa’s standard is significantly higher than those proposed in the United States in May. Standards need to be based on actual performance.

Creating a retirement cliff

The proposed regulations set an end of prescribed life of 20 years, despite the typical operating life of natural gas units being closer to 45 years. This will create stranded assets and massive retirement “cliffs,” as large numbers of natural gas facilities go off-line.

Approximately 55 per cent of Alberta’s existing and approved natural gas generation installed capacity would be subject to the federal emissions standard by 2035. The unnecessary retirement of best-in-class natural gas units would have massive negative impacts on Alberta’s electricity system.

A one-size-fits-all approach won’t work

It is clear that the federal government drafted these regulations based largely on the electricity systems of Canada’s three largest provinces, which primarily rely upon hydroelectricity and nuclear energy.

Regional differences must be recognized, including flexibilities for those jurisdictions most negatively affected by the regulations. When Ottawa exempted home heating oil from the carbon tax, they recognized the need for this flexibility. Alberta and all provinces deserve the same consideration.

Flawed understanding of natural gas

Alberta currently relies on natural gas for more than 70 per cent of its generation. Alberta’s grid reliability is maintained through natural gas generation to backup and balance intermittent sources of power such as wind and solar. Considering the seasonality of renewable resources, Alberta anticipates the need for efficient high-capacity abated natural gas units for decades to come.

The regulations are so rigid and strict that they will effectively make it economically unviable for companies to build and operate natural gas facilities, including abating emissions through carbon capture, utilization and storage (CCUS).

Inflexible and punitive compliance options

The draft regulations are unnecessarily punitive with inflexible compliance options. As written, generators must not emit or they could face criminal penalties under the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, which includes a threat of incarceration. The regulations also increase red tape, increase costs, and offer very little flexibility for industry.

Limiting new technologies

The proposed federal electricity regulations will limit the adoption of important new technologies like hydrogen and CCUS by setting unproven and unrealistic performance standards for facilities. This imposes high costs, introduces investor risk, and creates challenges such as older facilities not being able to upgrade or retrofit new technologies. The result will be added costs and grid reliability risks.

Risks to reliability and safety

Alberta requires reliable electricity power in periods when intermittent sources are not generating. In December 2022, the 5,000 megawatts of installed renewable capacity generated as little as 187 megawatts of energy at one point during a period of cold weather with little wind or solar generation. Natural gas was needed to keep the province from experiencing blackouts.

The proposed allowable peaking provisions – needed to ensure that power is available at any time, under any weather conditions – will result in Alberta not having enough power available when needed most. This is dangerous and irresponsible. The proposed low annual-run-hour limit and emissions restrictions do not enable natural gas assets to respond when needed to increasing demands and the variability of intermittent generation.

A ridiculous approach to emergencies

The proposed treatment of emergencies is unacceptable. It is untenable for the federal government to require post-emergency sign-off by a federal minister. Alberta’s provincial system operator knows best when we have an emergency, not politicians in Ottawa. Provinces must have flexibility to call on generators during emergencies to protect the safety and security of families and businesses, without the threat of punitive action on system operators or generators.

Inadequate financial support for those hit hardest

The federal government released the draft regulations without providing the financial supports needed to enable this transition. Any claims otherwise are false. Federal modelling indicates the regulations will cost $58 billion – since 60 per cent of the net costs will fall on Alberta, the province should receive 60 per cent of the necessary federal funding. Also, the $58-billion figure is likely incorrect as it’s based on flawed modelling and does not adequately consider the distribution and transmission and other costs that will be required. Other third-party assessments further estimated the costs reaching into the trillions.

Next steps

Alberta continues to call on the federal government to respect jurisdictional authority and the enshrined rights and responsibilities of the provinces. The Supreme Court of Canada’s decision on the Impact Assessment Act confirmed the unconstitutionality of the federal government’s ongoing efforts to interfere with electricity and natural resource sectors of all provinces.

The Alberta-Ottawa working group continues to discuss how to bring Ottawa’s efforts to achieve carbon neutrality in the economy in line with Alberta’s Emissions Reduction and Energy Development Plan. If this alignment is not achieved, Alberta will chart its own path to protect its citizens and economy by ensuring the province has additional reliable, affordable and sustainable electricity brought onto the power grid.

Alberta officials will continue to share technical information and analysis on these regulations with the federal government as required to achieve a more practical and realistic approach.

Quick facts

  • Alberta has reduced electricity emissions by 53 per cent since 2005.
  • According to Canada’s Constitution, legislating and regulating the development of electricity explicitly falls within the jurisdiction of the province (92A (1) (c)).
  • The Alberta Electric System Operator found that Alberta would face disproportionate risk and costs, compared with other provinces, as a result of the federal electricity regulations.
  • The Public Policy Forum previously indicated that the cost of the federal electricity approach could be more than $1 trillion and as high as $1.7 trillion.

Alberta

Male suspect involved in tragic incident between Beaumont and Edmonton sought by police; EPS release photos of suspect

Published on

News release from the Edmonton Police Service (EPS)

The Edmonton Police Service (EPS) is assisting the RCMP with the investigation into a tragic incident that claimed the life of an innocent woman last night on 50 Street.

Yesterday, Saturday, Feb. 24, 2024, at approximately 9:40 p.m. various EPS resources were deployed to the area of 50 Street and 22 Avenue SW at the request of the RCMP. It was reported to police that RCMP attempted to conduct a traffic stop on a suspicious U-Haul in Beaumont, when the vehicle fled. The U-Haul subsequently travelled north on 50 Street into Edmonton, where it struck and killed a woman inspecting the exterior of her vehicle. Moments later the U-Haul came to rest just outside a gas station off of 22 Avenue and 50 Street.

After crashing the U-Haul, the male suspect then reportedly stole a Honda Civic that was parked outside the gas station with a child inside. Police did consider an Alert to the public at the time, though thankfully the child was located unharmed in the area of 66 Street and 25 Avenue minutes later. The suspect then fled the scene in the Honda Civic. The stolen vehicle has since been recovered outside of Edmonton.

The EPS and RCMP continue to actively seek the identity and whereabouts of the male suspect described as being approximately 5’11” who was last seen wearing a black hoodie with white text on the front, brown shorts and black shoes. CCTV photos of the suspect are included below.

“We are incredibly saddened to hear about the tragic death of the innocent woman who was killed on 50 Street,” says Det. Nigel Phillips with the EPS Investigative Response Team. “Our hearts are with her family and friends who will now have to carry on with this unfathomable loss.”

“We are doing everything we can to track down the suspect and we trust the public will help us identify and locate him as soon as possible.”

Assist to identify and locate: Male suspect running in area of 50 Street & 22 Avenue SW
While the RCMP is leading this investigation, the EPS is assisting and working collaboratively with its law enforcement partners.

Anyone with information about the suspect’s identity and/or their whereabouts is asked to contact the EPS immediately at 780-423-4567 or #377 from a mobile phone. Anonymous information can also be submitted to Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477 or online at www.p3tips.com/250.

Continue Reading

Alberta

Low emissions, Indigenous-owned Cascade Power Project to boost Alberta electrical grid reliability

Published on

The Cascade Power Project. Photo courtesy Kinetcor

From the Canadian Energy Centre

By Will Gibson

New 900-megawatt natural gas-fired facility to supply more than eight per cent of Alberta’s power needs

Alberta’s electrical grid is about to get a boost in reliability from a major new natural gas-fired power plant owned in part by Indigenous communities.  

Next month operations are scheduled to start at the Cascade Power Project, which will have enough capacity to supply more than eight per cent of Alberta’s energy needs.  

It’s good news in a province where just over one month ago an emergency alert suddenly blared on cell phones and other electronic devices warning residents to immediately reduce electricity use to avoid outages.  

“Living in an energy-rich province, we sometimes take electricity for granted,” says Chana Martineau, CEO of the Alberta Indigenous Opportunities Corporation (AIOC) and member of the Frog Lake First Nation.  

“Given much of the province was dealing with -40C weather at the time, that alert was a vivid reminder of the importance of having a reliable electrical grid.” 

Cascade Power was the first project to receive funding through the AIOC, the provincial corporation established in 2020 to provide loan guarantees for Indigenous groups seeking partnerships in major development projects. 

So far, the AIOC has underwritten more than $500 million in support. This year it has $3 billion  available, up from $2 billion in 2023.  

In August 2020 it provided a $93 million loan guarantee to the Indigenous Communities Consortium — comprised of the Alexis Nakota Sioux NationEnoch Cree NationKehewin Cree NationOChiese First NationPaul First Nation, and Whitefish (Goodfish) Lake First Nation — to become equity owners. 

The 900-megawatt, $1.5-billion facility is scheduled to come online in March. 

“It’s personally gratifying for me to see how we moved from having Indigenous communities being seen as obstacles to partners in a generation,” says Martineau. 

The added capacity brought by Cascade is welcomed by the Alberta Electrical System Operator (AESO), which is responsible for the provinces electrical grid. =

“The AESO welcomes all new forms of generation into the Alberta marketplace, including renewables, thermal, storage, and others,” said Diane Kossman, a spokeswoman for the agency.  

“It is imperative that Alberta continue to have sufficient dispatchable generation to serve load during peak demand periods when other forms of generation are not able to contribute in a meaningful way.” 

The Cascade project also provides environmental benefits. It is a so-called “combined cycle” power facility, meaning it uses both a gas turbine and a steam turbine simultaneously to produce up to 50 per cent more electricity from the same amount of fuel than a traditional facility.  

Once complete, Cascade is expected to be the largest and most efficient combined cycle power plant in Alberta, producing 62 per cent less CO2 than a coal-fired power plant and 30 per cent less CO2 than a typical coal-to-gas conversion.  

“This project really is aligned with the goals of Indigenous communities on environmental performance,” says Martineau. 

The partnership behind the power plant includes Axium InfrastructureDIF Capital Partners  and Kineticor Resource Corp. along with the Indigenous Communities Consortium. 

The nations invested through a partnership with OPTrust, one of Canada’s largest pension funds.  

“Innovation is not just what we invest in, but it is also how we invest,” said James Davis, OPTrust’s chief investment officer. 

“The participation of six First Nations in the Cascade Power Project is a prime example of what is possible when investors, the government and local communities work together.” 

Continue Reading

Trending

X