Despite facing incredible pushback from 'green energy' advocates, the Alberta government says pausing new permits for renewable energy projects came at the discretion of Alberta regulators.
On August 3, the Alberta Utilities Commission (AUC) officially paused renewable electricity generation projects over one megawatt until February 29, 2024.
According to the province, the AUC will review its framework on 'green energy' after receiving feedback from municipalities and landowners opposed to the rapid pace of its development.
The AUC will specifically review the use of agricultural and public lands for wind and solar projects, with further inquiry on land reclamation and the role of municipal governments in these developments.
Sam Blackett, spokesperson to Premier Danielle Smith, told Rebel News, "The government continuously engages with the regulators and stakeholders to determine what is and needs to be fixed."
"The letters from AUC and AESO were sent following multiple briefings and conversations with the Ministry of Affordability and Utilities," he said.
"The AUC specifically referenced agricultural lands and reclamation issues in their letter. AESO's letter comes after its March 2023 Reliability Requirement Roadmap release, which describes some of the operational challenges it has been seeing with the advent of changes to the generation fleet."
According to Blackett, cabinet responded to the letters from AUC and AESO and the feedback we received from RMA with a decision to pause approval of future wind and solar projects to further engage with stakeholders and review policies and procedures for developing renewable electricity generation.
"At the end of this process, future renewable projects will be able to move forward at a pace conducive to business while maintaining responsible environmental stewardship and preserving Alberta's reliable electricity supply."
In a report by the Pembina Institute, a 'green energy' think tank, 188 projects are impacted by the moratorium.
"The total investments supporting the projects are estimated to be just over $33 billion, with an additional $263 million per year of revenue from municipal taxes and land leases spanning 27 different municipalities," it reads. "The planning, development, and construction of these projects would generate an estimated 24,000 full-time job-years."
Pipeline Online reported Alberta's energy output from wind plummeted to 0.8% capacity, with 29 MW generated just after midnight on April 4.
Alberta wind farms can produce 3,618 megawatts at total capacity but dwindled during the frigid cold winter months.
On the evening of February 23, the extreme cold nearly slowed wind farms across the province, tanking to between 11 and 20 megawatts (0.3%) with 31 turbines not operational.
Below -30°C temperatures, wind turbines hibernate and are susceptible to breaking, forcing the province to rely on fossil fuels to sustain its grid — constituting 91.3% of all power generation.
"Wind is at 0.4% of capacity and produces 0.1% of total generation, while solar is at 33.2% of capacity and 3.61% of total generation. At the same time, we are importing 811 MW or 7%," tweeted Reliable AB Energy, which tracks Alberta's energy grid.
"At this point, the business case behind using solar and wind power is often very weak because these two sources of power are often unreliable — the sun doesn't always shine, and the wind doesn't always blow," said Colin Craig, president of SecondStreet.org.
This story will be updated.