Its a bit of a battlefield out there folks. Or maybe a circus madhouse. Here’s the round-up, West to East.
BC Hydro officially suspends new contracting activity through its SOP (Standard Offer Program), citing uncertainty regarding power pricing, new electricity needs, etc, a predictable casualty of the abominable business decision to proceed with the Site C dam construction. The program could potentially resume next year, following the conclusion of an internal BCHydro review taking place through 2018. Potentially.
Five approved projects, with PPAs (Power Purchase Agreements) in hand, including 45MW of Peace region wind energy, will continue forward to construction and commissioning.
Alberta’s AESO (Alberta Electricity System Operator) followed up its successful REP Round 1, by concurrently launching REP 2 and REP 3. The new procurements are requesting 300MW and 400MW of new capacity, with REP 2 requiring a minimum of 25% First Nations equity positions in the projects. The Pembina Institute also recently published a very positive view of the Alberta electricity market as perfectly-suited to non-utility PPAs, either virtual or Behind-the-Fence.
Despite these rosy developments, roiling political uncertainties related to the oilsands and embattled Trans-Mountain pipeline expansion project are threatening the government of Rachel Notley, its sophisticated Climate Leadership Plan, and the carbon revenues and renewable energy diversification strategy that come with it. It’s tense, to say the least. Along with having approved the aforementioned renewable-energy-killing mega-dam project, BC premier John Horgan is pouring gasoline on the fire, blocking the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion in the name of protecting the environment and fighting climate change, while at the same time making huge concessions to fracking and LNG development in BC’s North. A hot mess would be an under-statement at this point.
[Update] As of April 16, the conflict between BC and Alberta has escalated dramatically. Following an 11th hour confrontation with Trudeau and team in Ottawa, BC has stated its not backing down. AB enacts legislation allowing it to restrict fossil fuel products to BC. All sides are digging in their heels and making everyone extremely nervous. Very un-Canadian.
Moving on to quieter landscapes, Saskatchewan and SaskPower have been rather low-key about its formerly-stated goal of 50% renewable energy by 2030. However, new wind projects are expected to enter their construction phases this Summer, with the province’s first utility-scale solar projects expected to be awarded PPAs. Also, one of the country’s first geothermal energy PPAs was awarded to DEEP Geothermal in 2017, with further development expected through this year. Its first 10MW solar facility is also expected to see tender awarded this year.
Ontario, Canada’s leader for installed wind and solar capacity is struggling to find a way forward. Infrastructure limitations, ballooning energy costs (largely due to a vast nuclear refurbishment program coming due), and intense political divisions are grinding new renewables development to a near-halt in the province. The Liberal government of Kathleen Wynne may be fighting for its political life in the upcoming Summer election, as the same socio-economic tribalism that hustled Trump to power in the US, has now delivered a very similar result to elect Rob Ford as the leader of the Conservative party that will contest her. His victory could be a train-wreck for any new (or existing) climate or energy legislation in the province.
Quebec and The Maritimes are being lumped together in this post. Their most recent forays into the North American clean energy marketplace came as a sort of joint venture competition, as utilities across the region bid into the recent renewable energy tenders in the Maine/New England/Massachusetts region. Quebec’s Northern Pass Transmission, a partnership with New England’s Eversource, was selected in January for the Massachusett’s tender. Nova Scotia’s Emera, which was not, if successful would have spurred the development and construction of approximately 1,000MW of new Atlantic Canadian wind energy, along with new transmission infrastructure to deliver it to the US.
Newfoundland continues to founder in a mega-dam quagmire of its own making (Muskrat Falls, officially declared a boondoggle by Nalcor’s CEO in 2016), while simultaneously squandering the opportunity to spearhead the first Canadian offshore wind energy developments, both on generation and manufacturing, as proposed by Beothuk Energy and its investor, Copenhagen Infrastructure Partners. Its Canadian projects are effectively in limbo at this time.
For the time being, almost all renewable energy roads lead to Alberta and Saskatchewan. However, the results of its provincial election in 2019 may be pivotal to the robust continued growth towards a coal-phase out and up to 5,000MW of new, competitive renewable energy.