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Addressing Climate Change: Our Perspective

November 18, 2015
Published In: Environmentalism

​The environment, whether it is watershed protection or recycling of retired electrical equipment, factors into everything we do.

In our submission to the Government of Alberta's Climate Change Advisory Panel and our participation in the panel's Electricity Technical Sessions, we've offered our perspective on how the electric industry can help address the challenge of climate change.

Smoothing the transition to low-emissions electricity

Customers have come to expect highly reliable electricity at affordable rates. However, environmental impacts are not fully reflected in the pricing of resources or goods and services in Alberta. 

We support measures that would maintain reliability for customers while achieving environmental results in the lowest possible cost manner. 

That means relying on market-based solutions that are simple to understand and administer, and apply more broadly than just the electricity sector. We need to build on the strength of our market as it exists, while preserving investor confidence with an orderly transition to the phase out of coal-fired power generation.

A 'green' electric industry by 2030

With decisive action today, we believe that the electric industry can be significantly more green by 2030 — over a 15-year transition period. Here's how: 

  1. Put a stable, predictable price on emissions that will incent a shift to lower-emissions generation. A price of $30 per tonne of carbon, applicable to all emitters, would help facilitate the transition away from coal generation. During the transition, a significant investment in natural gas generation and renewables will be required to ensure grid reliability. Investors will need confidence that returns will not be depressed by government intervention into the timing or quantity of new generation investment.
  2. Phase out coal early. A 40-year timeframe would see all coal units off the grid by 2030 with the exception of newer, high-efficiency generators. However, it must be done in a way that preserves investor confidence in Alberta by allowing coal generators a fair opportunity to recover their costs and make a reasonable return on their investments.
  3. Introduce a renewable portfolio standard. We advocate for requiring electricity users and retailers to procure a percentage of their energy from renewable sources, with the percentage increasing over time. This will create additional market demand for renewables at the lowest possible cost to consumers.
  4. Focus on utility-scale renewable generation developments, which can provide reliable supply from the best locations in Alberta. We prefer this over small scale (e.g. roof-top solar) programs that offer very few benefits and are extremely high cost. There is a place for distributed generation in Alberta, and the industry needs to work with regulators to clarify the rules and provide guidance for distributors and generators.
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