Canadian Utilities Recognize the Role of Renewables

The association of electric utilities in Canada says its members are steadily improving their environmental performance, with a particular focus on air quality.

OTTAWA, Ontario, CA, 2001-10-02 [] The Canadian Electricity Association, in its latest annual report on its Environmental Commitment & Responsibility (ECR) program, devotes a significant portion to air quality and reports on the growth of renewable energy sources. Utilities are challenged to “balance the need to provide safe, reliable, and environmentally friendly electricity with the increasing demand for competitively priced electricity, and the geographic and technological differences within our vast nation,” explains Don Lowry, CEO of EPCOR, an Alberta utility. While increased generation resulted in increased GHG emissions, the CEA claims that there has been a “reduction in net CO2 emitted per unit of net system generation” for the third year in a row. In a presentation to federal and provincial ministers of energy in Quebec City on September 12, the CEA called for policies that will meet the future electricity needs of Canadians. “Canada has a comparative advantage in energy,” says president Hans Konow. “However, no comparative advantage can be maintained without diligent management.” There is no crisis in energy or electricity supply in Canada, but he suggested there are “some real issues needing the careful attention of governments and industry that, if left unattended, could become problems.” The CEA predicts that Canada must increase electricity generation by 15 percent in each of the next two decades, while replacing or substantially upgrading a significant portion of its aging generation fleet. In light of new competitive pressures on the industry, it wants government to design regulatory and tax regimes that encourage capital investment; facilitate movement of electricity across domestic and international borders; and develop and deploy improved technology that continuously reduces environmental impacts. Founded in 1891, CEA represents Canada’s electricity industry. Its members generate 95 percent of the country’s electricity. At that same meeting of energy ministers, the Canadian Gas Association called for a Canadian energy strategy that would highlight the importance of a vibrant natural gas industry that can respond to current developments in the North American energy industry and prepare to meet the projected increase in future demand for natural gas. “Governments can contribute to a vibrant Canadian natural gas market by developing a strategy and initiatives to support energy market developments,” says chairman Robert Tessier, who is also president and CEO of Gaz Metropolitain in Quebec. The group wants government to “recognize and promote the environmental qualities and applications of natural gas.”
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