Trudeau runs from accountability on his own record

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau discussed emission reductions Friday with Alberta Premier Danielle Smith, including the possibility of a 'net-zero' electricity grid by 2035.

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"The prime minister said we would like to bring our emissions reduction and energy development plan, with the target of carbon neutrality by 2050. That will require us to have some conversations on areas we don't have agreement on," said Smith at the press conference.

"We would like to establish a working group to discuss how to achieve a net-zero power grid. But I've told the prime minister that it is impossible by 2035, as told by our experts."

According to the Alberta Electric System Operator (AESO) report, transitioning to a 'net-zero' grid would cost between $44 billion and $52 billion over the next decade. However, power generation costs would exceed $92.2 billion during the same period.

"The report says the [transition] would have a largely negligible impact on GDP growth. What is your response to that?" asked a reporter on May 4. Smith replied: "It would result in a cumulative reduction of $35 billion." 

"We have two reports — the AESO report that said we would have to invest $52 billion to get to a net-zero power grid, and then Navius [Research]...said it would have a cumulative effect of reducing GDP by $35 billion," she said.

Environment Minister Steven Guilbeault threatened provinces not adopting the Clean Electricity Standard by 2030. Alberta refuted those standards, citing concerns about the affordability of residential utility bills.

Smith said compliance would increase residential electricity bills for Albertans by 40%, leaving billions in stranded costs on the backs of ratepayers.

"I would tell you that that's not going to be affordable for people on fixed incomes and everyday families," she said.

Alberta's premier told media personality Ryan Jesperson the federal government needs to know Alberta's energy mix differs from other provinces.

"In Alberta, 90% of our electricity grid comes from natural gas, so you can't use the same lens here…like in Quebec, where they get the lion's share from hydro or nuclear," she said. 

Despite the opposition, Smith remains hopeful that a "breakthrough" will occur between the province and Ottawa.

On June 8, the premier acknowledged the province's electricity grid of tomorrow will use a mix of energy, but to expect to replace its reliance on natural gas within 12 years is "not achievable."

"If we can keep a target of reaching carbon neutrality by 2050, we will be perfectly in sync," she said. "Don't try to accelerate if the technology isn't there and the timeline is too fast."

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