Thursday, October 20, 2011

Energy in Alberta: Premier Redford shifts focus of Alberta from conventional hydrocarbons to renewables - time for Saskatchewan to follow?

On October 1, 2011 Alison Redford was elected by her Progressive Conservative (PC) party as the premier of Alberta. As part of the energy strategy Redford proposed during the PC leadership race, Redford stated that she envisions Alberta “as a global leader in sustainable hydrocarbon production and the global leader in renewable energy production.” Premier Redford also stated in her energy strategy that the proposed shift from the conventional hydrocarbon sector to renewable energy will leverage revenues generated from conventional sources “to ensure that Alberta remains a leader when the shift to renewables occurs on a large scale.” The Alberta energy strategy does not suggest (or rule out) subsidies, standard offer programs, subsidized tariff rates or feed-in-tariffs for renewable energy generation.

Premier Redford has also committed to establishing an authority to direct government involvement in renewable energy, operating in partnership with the academic and private sectors, promoting education and research initiatives and updating the Alberta Electric System Operator’s terms of reference to facilitate connection of renewables to the grid.

With British Columbia already a significant and long-standing supporter of renewable energy development and Alberta seemingly following suit, if Saskatchewan adopts a similar position on renewable energy we would have a consensus from all major hydrocarbon producing jurisdictions in Western Canada. A clear position on renewable energy is a critical pillar in a Canadian energy strategy and full credit must go to Alberta for taking the lead in the absence of Federal direction.

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