#TrendingNews Blog Business Entertainment Environment Health Lifestyle News Analysis Opinion Science Sports Technology World News
Debunking Saskatchewan Premier Moe’s Claims Against Canada's Net-Zero Electricity Commitment by 2035

(Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe: CBC News)

The Saskatchewan Road Block

A recent statement from Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe indicates that his government will try to block Ottawa’s goal of phasing out coal by 2030 or the 2035 target to reach a net-zero electricity grid. Premier Moe instead put 2050 as the province’s target. 

This comes after the federal government’s latest budget unveils their intention to invest 10s of billions in the renewable energy sector to transform Canada’s electricity grid to net zero by 2035. 

According to the Premier, the federal government’s targets are “unrealistic” and pose to hike electricity rates in Saskatchewan if the province were to follow through. The premier claims electricity rates would quadruple. Premier Moe indicates that the provinces will be using their jurisdictional tools to combat the federal government’s intentions. Such tools will be revealed in the coming weeks, according to the Premier. 

However, according to independent studies from the Canadian Climate Institute (CCI), electricity rates would stay relatively the same, not quadruple as the Premier is claiming. 

A senior researcher at CCI - Stephen Dion - says the 2035 target is achievable based on the tools the province has. Dion argues that the “ball is in the court of the province” in how they're going to make the transition by 2035. With Budget 2023, the federal support is there, it’s simply a matter of taking advantage of it with federal-provincial collaboration. 

Furthermore, Dion argues that the 2035 targets of achieving a net-zero grid are possible, based on research and studies. Dion further states that business is “clamouring for clean power”. 

But it isn’t as though natural gas use will be banned after 2035, it’s simply a matter of ensuring Canada’s electricity grid is net zero. If Saskatchewan can figure out a way to reduce natural gas usage or lower its emissions through carbon capture or regulatory measures, then that’s still fundamentally compatible with the Fed’s 2035 target. 

Possible Solutions

Dion argues that rather than shutting down those plants as the Premier warns, “limited use” of natural gas plants by incentivizing smart utilization and usage during emergencies would help reduce the province’s grid emissions. The province could also allocate investment in carbon capture and storage lower the emissions of its natural gas plants. 

Other solutions include conservation and efficiency efforts on emissions produced. The province could put emissions caps on fuel energy producers that are spewing a disproportionate amount of emissions for their size. These producers should also have their fuels and building standards regulated to be as clean as possible. 

For gas-dependent cities like Saskatoon, the province could slowly reduce the use of natural gas plants whilst building and powering the city up on renewable energy alternatives at the same time. 

As a short-term solution, the province can ramp up renewable imports from Manitoba, a neighbouring hydroelectric-producing juggernaut. A provincial import strategy can provide short-term energy needs for the province whilst improving interprovincial transmission grids. 

To match the federal government’s clean energy incentives, the Saskatchewan government needs to allow more renewable producers into the market by incentivizing and subsiding renewable projects. The government could even look to tax oil and gas profits for clean energy subsidies rather than using direct government tax revenue. 

The Albertan Example

But Saskatchewan doesn’t have to look far to see how they could transform their electricity grid to a more renewable future. Since 2015, Alberta has made great strides by completely phasing out coal-fired electricity and is on track to meet and exceed 30% of their grid to be entirely renewable by 2030. Analysts indicate the 30% target will be reached as soon as 2024. 

Much of these policies come from the Alberta New Democrat’s various commitments to renewable projects. But it nonetheless showcases what is possible within provinces that are especially dependent on fossil fuel electricity generation. 

One such measure tabled by the Alberta NDP has the government pay the developer the difference between the auction price and the market price of energy. But if the market price exceeds the auction price, then developers will pay the difference to the government. Alberta was able to raise $160 million with this measure while producing 3 major wind and sun farm projects. Enough energy to power 750,000 homes. 

However, upon the UCP election win in 2019, Alberta’s renewable energy growth stagnated as the contract-based program put in place by the ANDP was cancelled.

However, experts argue that Alberta’s 30% is the “low-hanging fruit” of transforming the grid. The real challenge will come from transforming the remaining 70% of the Alberta grid (which is still heavily dependent on natural gas) to renewables. 

Furthermore, if the ANDP is elected in Alberta’s upcoming election on May 29. The NDP promises to create a $400 million Alberta Future Tax Credit aimed at creating jobs in critical mineral extraction and cleantech development. In total, the ANDP is promising to attract $20 billion in private-sector investment while creating 47,000 jobs. Such an initiative will put the country’s oil-rich province towards a more tenable net-zero future and will likely put further pressure on Saskatchewan to follow suit. 

Saskatchewan Renewable Energy Leadership 

One of the big pushes for the federal government to introduce several measures on attracting clean tech, EV manufacturing, and renewable power generation is because of the $400 billion Inflation Reduction Act in the U.S. In North America, Canada was in the lead for decarbonization but the U.S IRA bill has put an obstacle in front of that goal. The federal and provincial governments now have a responsibility to make sure they don’t lose out on a grand opportunity in cleantech that’s being fueled by the world’s largest economies in Europe and North America. 

Otherwise, if provinces like Saskatchewan cling to the technologies of old, then they risk missing out on clean energy investments worth billions and will lose out employment that will pay tens of thousands of people. 

But the federal government has acknowledged this risk with Budget 2023 which includes 10s of billion in tax incentives for provinces and companies to work with to develop clean energy.  The federal government has passed the ball to the provinces, it’s now up to the provinces to finish the goal. 

Saskatchewan and the other prairie provinces are in a unique position to give a truthful effort in decarbonizing their grids to net zero. They have commitments and investments coming from the federal government, there are American and international investment pressures, support from like-provinces such as Alberta and Manitoba that can provide a unique insight into the transition efforts, and a strong educated population that can intelligently guide the country to a net-zero future.

Share This Post On


Leave a comment

You need to login to leave a comment. Log-in