Though Alberta and Saskatchewan have the most to lose from the proposed ‘clean’ electricity regulations, Alberta Premier Danielle Smith said “everyone’s going to end up paying more” in electricity costs, irrespective of where they live.
According to a new report by Toronto-based policy Think Tank, LFX Associates, phasing out Alberta natural gas from Ontario’s power grid would cost the average household in that province about $3,300 more in electricity costs by 2030.
Ross McKitrick, a professor of economics at the University of Guelph, said Ontario ratepayers can also expect a 3% to 3.6% drop in GDP and cost the local economy upwards of 25,000 jobs.
“Eliminating natural gas from the grid would yield no measurable benefits on Ontario’s air quality or the global climate,” he said.
Rebel News asked Smith about the status of her conversations with Ontario Premier Doug Ford concerning the ‘net-zero’ regulations.
She replied: “When you look at B.C., Manitoba, Ontario, and Québec, they’re all in a position where 95% or more of their power grid is decarbonized. But they’re also at maximum power, so they face some of the same challenges that we do.”
“This is not just an Alberta problem — it’s also felt in Saskatchewan, Nova Scotia, and New Brunswick as they also have a lot of hydro fuels on their power grid.”
Despite having a 93% 'clean energy' grid, Ontario Energy Minister Todd Smith said the province would look into the viability of wind and solar power infrastructure.
If approved, he hopes to complete their construction by 2050 to achieve a "100% clean grid."
"Hopefully, the federal government can get on board with our intentions to build this clean generation as quickly as possible," he said, adding they hope to lessen their dependence on natural gas moving forward.
Dan McTeague, president of Canadians for Affordable Energy and a former Ontario Liberal MP, condemned the aim as “foolish” and “shortsighted.”
“We’ve seen the baseless push from the green movement to eliminate natural gas from the grid and, as this report confirms, it is sheer madness,” he said.
In Ontario, natural gas is required to generate about 10% of the province's electricity when renewable energy is not readily available.
Nearly all the natural gas used in Ontario comes from Alberta through a TC Energy mainline that hooks into the prairie province’s NOVA system.
By removing natural gas from the equation, the risk of blackouts and brownouts would increase during periods of peak power usage.
“Ontario has one of the cleanest grids in the world. Natural gas in Ontario contributes less than a rounding error in global GHGs,” added McTeague.
“Phasing out natural gas is virtue signaling which will only lead to less affordable energy in Ontario with zero net environmental benefits.”
Between 1991 and 2020, emissions from Ontario’s electricity sector fell 98%, contributing to just under 0.008% of global carbon emissions.
“Even if there were great environmental benefits to be expected from removing gas-fired generation from the supply mix […] it would simply not be feasible if Ontario was to maintain a reliable electricity system,” said McKitrick.
“When we ask what it would ‘cost’ to phase out natural gas, we must bear in mind that the answer is not simply a dollar amount, but it is also a set of implications for the reliability of the power grid,” he said.
According to Premier Smith, improving abatement technology should be the main aim of provinces looking to balance emissions reduction and reliable, affordable power.
“[Premier] Doug Ford announced 1,500 MW of power that’s going to come on stream from natural gas, and I suppose they’re taking the risk that they’ll have it fully abated by 2035,” said Smith at a press conference in Calgary.
In Ontario, 34 municipalities have passed resolutions to phase-out natural gas plants — making it illegal to replace existing furnaces with heating systems powered by fossil fuels in Québec.
In Nanaimo, B.C., new homes cannot use natural gas as a primary heat source starting on July 1, 2024.
“Governments across Canada should heed the warnings laid out in this report,” said McTeague.
“Canada’s grid is as reliable and affordable as it is because of fossil fuels. This push to remove natural gas from the grid is foolish and shortsighted.”
“That’s why we’re launching a countrywide campaign, as everyone’s going to end up paying more as a result of the lack of reliability, intermittency, and the ideology that we’re seeing the federal government impose,” added Premier Smith.
“It’s not easy to develop hydroelectric power as we’ve seen with Site C — that project got started in 1954, and it’s still not completed today,” she said of the B.C. hydroelectric project.
“If you’re going to continue to grow your economy, and you’ll need 50% more power, how are you going to bring that on stream?” she posed.
“We don’t have the rollout of the small modular reactors, so that’s a challenge too.”