The proposed ‘clean’ electricity regulations in Alberta and Saskatchewan are expected to result in higher electricity costs for consumers across the country, regardless of where they live. A report by Toronto-based policy Think Tank, LFX Associates, reveals that phasing out Alberta natural gas from Ontario’s power grid could increase electricity costs for the average household in that province by approximately $3,300 by 2030. Additionally, the regulations could lead to a drop in GDP and the loss of over 25,000 jobs in Ontario, according to Ross McKitrick, an economics professor at the University of Guelph.
Alberta Premier Danielle Smith emphasizes that the impact of these regulations extends beyond her province, affecting Saskatchewan, Nova Scotia, and New Brunswick as well. Smith notes that these provinces also heavily rely on hydro fuels in their power grids. She points out that British Columbia, Manitoba, Ontario, and Québec have made significant progress in decarbonizing their power grids, but they face similar challenges in meeting the demands for power.
In Ontario, where natural gas is required for about 10% of electricity generation during periods of low renewable energy availability, the government is considering the viability of wind and solar power infrastructure. Ontario Energy Minister Todd Smith aims to achieve a “100% clean grid” by 2050 and hopes to lessen the province’s dependence on natural gas. However, Dan McTeague, president of Canadians for Affordable Energy, criticizes the aim as “foolish” and “shortsighted.” He argues that eliminating natural gas from the grid will lead to less affordable energy without significant environmental benefits.
While Ontario has made significant progress in reducing emissions from its electricity sector, contributing to less than 0.008% of global carbon emissions, McTeague argues that phasing out natural gas would not be feasible without compromising the reliability of the power grid. McKitrick also emphasizes that the cost of phasing out natural gas goes beyond a monetary amount; it has implications for the reliability of the power grid. He suggests that provinces should focus on improving abatement technology to simultaneously reduce emissions and maintain reliable and affordable power.
Several municipalities across Canada have passed resolutions to phase out natural gas plants, making it illegal to replace existing furnaces with fossil fuel-powered heating systems. This move has sparked debates on the feasibility and reliability of relying solely on renewable energy sources.
Premier Smith warns that the lack of reliability and intermittency associated with renewable energy sources will result in increased costs for consumers and calls for a more balanced approach that takes into account the need for reliable and affordable power. She highlights the challenges in developing hydroelectric power and the need for alternative solutions, such as small modular reactors, to meet the growing demands for electricity.
In conclusion, the proposed ‘clean’ electricity regulations are expected to have significant financial and economic implications for consumers and the provinces involved. While the intention to reduce emissions is commendable, critics argue that phasing out natural gas without considering the reliability and affordability of power could lead to higher costs without significant environmental benefits. Provinces need to carefully balance emissions reduction targets with the need for reliable and affordable electricity to ensure the well-being of their economies and citizens.