A research group in Alberta says the province must promote renewable energy and energy efficiency to cope with deregulation of the electricity sector.
DRAYTON VALLEY, Alberta – The Pembina Institute says the government must address the crisis in Alberta by immediately implementing six new policies that would displace 800 MW of coal-fired generation and produce $500 million in savings on energy bills. “While consumer rebates provide short-term relief and are politically expedient, our proposed measures will reduce consumers’ long-term vulnerability to high electricity prices,” says the group’s Tom Marr-Laing. “The measures will also reduce the risk of significant human health and environmental impacts from new heavily polluting coal-fired power stations.” The 13 page concept paper, ‘A Smart Electricity Policy for Alberta: Enhancing the Alberta Advantage,’ says the provincial government must address Alberta’s electricity crisis by establishing a low-impact renewable energy portfolio standard, a low-impact renewable energy production incentive, and a net metering program for small-scale, low-impact renewable energy sources. To promote improvements in energy efficiency, the government must establish an energy efficiency revolving fund, an Alberta energy efficiency office, and a performance mechanism and energy efficiency target for electricity retailers. Implementing the policies would increase diversity of electricity supply, promote regional economic development, protect human health, and increase consumers’ awareness of their electricity use and its impacts, says the report. The mission of the Pembina Institute is to implement holistic and practical solutions for a sustainable world. “Implementation of these six policies would cost a small fraction of what the Alberta government has already spent on energy rebates,” adds Andrew Pape-Salmon. “While Alberta has positioned itself as a leader in electricity policy, in truth, we are far behind other jurisdictions in designing an electricity policy that manages both economic and environmental risks.” The environmental liability of coal-fired electricity supplies could be $1 billion per year by the end of this decade for greenhouse gas emissions alone, the group estimates. “Our proposed policies would also help to establish a large supply of low-impact renewable energy in the province, reducing Alberta’s exposure to such environmental liabilities,” he explains. In the United States, Texas requires electricity retailers to provide a minimum share of their supplies from wind, solar, hydro and other renewable energy sources. The state expects that at least 2,000 MW of new renewable energy capacity will be online by next year in time for the introduction of a competitive marketplace.