Opinion: Clean Electricity Regulations urgently needed

A flexible and technology-neutral Clean Electricity Regulations remains key for addressing the various resource advantages and energy needs across Canada

Clean, affordable, reliable electricity is the backbone of the new energy economy. Don White photo.

This article was published by The Pembina Institute on Feb. 16, 2024.

OTTAWA — Scott MacDougall, Electricity Director at the Pembina Institute, made the following statement in response to the federal government consultations and design options being considered for the final Clean Electricity Regulations

“Canada’s draft Clean Electricity Regulations (CER) released in August 2023 were a meaningful and ambitious effort by the federal government to balance the need to reduce emissions with an affordable and reliable clean grid – a key aspect of addressing climate change.

Given the environmental and health consequences of emitting energy sources and the global commitment to triple renewables by 2030 at the COP28 climate summit, it is essential that Canada finalize its CER by the promised mid- 2024 deadline.

The federal government executed a robust, year-long consultation period when drafting the CER and provided an additional 75-day consultation period upon its publication in August. In doing so and in releasing the feedback received on the draft CER, the government is acting in good faith with key stakeholders to advance a durable and flexible policy. However, to advance grid decarbonization, industry and system planners need the policy certainty that a finalized CER provides.

A flexible and technology-neutral CER remains key for addressing the various resource advantages and energy needs across Canada and it is critical that any changes to the draft CER do not result in a significant increase in potential emissions and do not delay finalizing the CER.

Changes between now and finalizing the CER by mid-2024 will need to be done so as not to worsen emissions, affordability, and reliability outcomes. Taking an approach that limits emissions of fleets rather than individual generators must not result in higher emissions. Allowing unabated gas-fired generators to come online after January 1, 2025 (the previous cutoff date) risks locking in gas emissions and higher electricity costs for decades.

Clean, affordable, reliable electricity is the backbone of the new energy economy. We urge the federal government to introduce final Clean Electricity Regulations as promised, without delay, this summer.

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