Alberta premier introduces resolution against federal power rules
Alberta Premier Danielle Smith introduced a resolution in the provincial legislature November 27 aimed at protecting the province from Ottawa’s proposed Clean Electricity Regulations (CERs).
The Alberta Sovereignty Within a United Canada Act resolution was introduced, Smith said, to ensure Albertans aren’t at risk of “freezing in the dark” due to the “unaffordable, unreliable and unconstitutional” CERs.
The resolution asks Alberta’s legislative assembly for approval to take “strong, effective action” to counteract the “harms and risks” posed by the CERs. These measures would include instructing all provincial entities – but not private companies – to not recognize the constitutional validity of the CERs and to not enforce or cooperate in the implementation of the regulations.
“We have tried to work with Ottawa to align their emissions-reduction efforts with our provincial plan to achieve a carbon-neutral power grid by 2050,” Smith said. “Unfortunately, after months of meetings, they continue to reject this opportunity and remain committed to an absurdly unrealistic and unattainable goal of a net-zero power grid by 2035.”
Ottawa’s regulations propose “unrealistic rules” that carry a hammer of potential Criminal Code penalties to achieve that net-zero grid. Alberta’s power grid currently relies on natural gas for about 12,000 MW of baseload generation and will need to see that double by 2050, but the regulations have created uncertainty and are driving away investments needed to reach that target, the government said.
“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,” said Nathan Neudorf, the province’s minister of affordability and utilities. “It is our responsibility to provide safe, reliable and affordable electricity to all Albertans without interference from Ottawa.”
The resolution also instructs the government to work with industry, regulators and other stakeholders to study the feasibility of establishing a provincial Crown corporation that would develop and maintain more reliable and affordable electricity on the province’s power grid in the event private generators find it too risky to make these investments because of rules under the CERs.
“This Alberta Crown corporation would be a provincial entity and would not recognise the CERs as constitutionally valid,” the government said in a background paper. “If needed, the Crown corporation would work with industry and other stakeholders to bring…needed electricity onto the grid, either through building new generation or purchasing existing (gas-fired) generation assets that private industry would otherwise not build or shut down due to the uncertainty and penalties established by the CERs.”
The Crown corporation, Smith told media prior to introducing the resolution in the legislature, would be “very much a generator of last resort” to ensure a reliable Alberta power grid.