Saskatchewan is set to join Alberta in countering the federal ‘net-zero’ power grid transition for the first time through autonomy legislation.
According to Justice Minister Bronwyn Eyre, the province will initially use the Saskatchewan First Act to study the economic impact of the clean-electricity regulations, which set a 2035 target date.
“We need to get a nuanced, detailed sense of what these policies mean for the economy of Saskatchewan and the people of Saskatchewan,” she remarked Tuesday.
Bill 88 reasserts Saskatchewan’s jurisdiction on natural resources and electricity generation over the federal government, permitting a tribunal to assess overreach. The tribunal will submit a report including witness testimony on the costs of the 'net-zero' regulations at a later date.
Earlier this month, Dustin Duncan, the minister responsible for Saskatchewan’s electricity utility, said the regulations would cost the province $40 billion.
Other federal policies on the environment, including the two carbon taxes, emission caps and methane initiatives would cost the province $111 billion by 2035.
Eyre said despite these costs, the tribunal will still be required to “look at all angles” to fully account for how compliance would further investor uncertainty.
“There are a lot of trickle-down impacts from these federal policies that have not been economically canvassed or plumbed or completely analyzed or quantified,” she clarified.
Set to chair the tribunal is Regina lawyer Michael Milani, who acknowledged their efforts will include a submission from Ottawa in their bid to flesh out the controversy.
“If the goal is to obtain the best and most complete information possible, I would think, as chair, we’d want that from all places and all quarters,” he told the Globe and Mail.
The tribunal also includes former Saskatchewan finance minister Janice MacKinnon, former SaskEnergy CEO Kenneth From, agriculture researcher Stuart Smyth and oilsands worker Estella Peterson.
Though an Environment Canada spokesperson did not confirm whether Ottawa would participate in the tribunal, Milani remained cautiously optimistic on the prospects of receiving additional information from them for the report.
Environment Minister Steven Guilbeault has repeatedly denounced opposition claims that his proposed transition would cost ratepayers immensely and fluctuate the energy supply.
He contends Ottawa will rebate residents for half of the cost increase through tax credits, low-cost financing and other funds, citing they have already spent $40 billion to transition provincial power grids.