Saskatchewan won’t follow ‘net-zero’ power regulations, says it would cost province billions

Saskatchewan will not comply with federal ‘net-zero’ electricity regulations, no matter the cost. The province says it would stunt job growth and cost billions of dollars.

Saskatchewan won’t follow ‘net-zero’ power regulations, says it would cost province billions
The Canadian Press / Sean Kilpatrick
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Saskatchewan will not comply with federal clean electricity regulations, no matter the cost.

On Tuesday, the Saskatchewan Economic Impact Assessment Tribunal said the transition to a ‘net-zero’ power grid would ruin the local economy.

It would stunt job growth and cost billions of dollars if implemented, claimed the Tribunal. The regulations would also worsen affordability concerns in the province.

According to the federal government, the regulations would shift provincial power grids to ‘net-zero’ by 2035 without breaking the bank. 

A spokesperson for Environment and Climate Change Canada alleged an “underlying ideological agenda” was afoot to garner sympathies in a political fight with the federal government, but the facts on the ground suggest otherwise.

Tribunal chair Michael Milani said Saskatchewan's economic growth would suffer under the radical regulations. Through the next decade, it would plummet at least $7.1 billion if implemented.

Milani estimated 4,200 fewer jobs due to rising electricity costs.

Environment Minister Steven Guilbeault hammered the tribunal for reaching “incorrect conclusions” in its report.

“The results of this report are wildly out of sync with all the benefits we know come with building out a cleaner grid. Saskatchewan is ideally situated to be a leader in these economic opportunities,” he said in a statement to CBC News.

Saskatchewan announced last November it would invoke Bill 88, the Saskatchewan First Act, to establish the five-person tribunal. 

It includes former Saskatchewan finance minister Janice MacKinnon, former SaskEnergy CEO Kenneth From, agriculture researcher Stuart Smyth and oilsands worker Estella Peterson.

The tribunal's mandate was to assess the costs of federal overreach into resource development and electricity generation.

At the time, Justice Minister Bronwyn Eyre condemned the draft regulations as “constitutional overreach.” 

“We cannot participate in federal economic harm to our province,” Eyre said Tuesday morning. 

Minister Guilbeault’s office claimed otherwise.

The tribunal determined that by 2035, residential ratepayers would pay $241 more in electricity costs under the draft regulations. Similarly, commercial ratepayers and small industrial ratepayers would pay $888 and $1,429 more, respectively.

Milani attributes those costs to the technology required not being readily available by the deadline. 

“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,” Minister Eyre furthered.

“Businesses have to want to make these changes,” Milani added, noting ongoing investor uncertainty.

However, the feds claim Saskatchewan's report considers outdated regulations.

Ottawa reportedly changed the draft in February, according to the Trudeau government.

“This report is hard to take seriously,” Guilbeault's office said in a statement. 

The report fails to acknowledge the “significant additional flexibilities that we proposed and have been consulting on since earlier this year,” said a spokesperson from Environment Canada.

That consultation remains ongoing, they conclude. 

Dustin Duncan, the minister responsible for Saskatchewan’s electricity utility, previously said the regulations would cost provinces $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.

The statement from Guilbeault's office contends the $40 billion figure is being misrepresented. 

“[It] ignores the millions of dollars the federal government has already invested to upgrade Saskatchewan's grids,” the statement declared.

This includes $74 million to develop small modular reactors, $174 million to update the E.B. Campbell Hydroelectric Station, and funds to upgrade wind and solar projects across the province.

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