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Calgary MP fired up over Alberta’s renewable energy ban, electricity ad campaign

Calgary MP George Chahal took aim at recent Alberta electricity decisions, but Alberta’s Minister of Environment fired back, saying her political counterpart has spent too much time in Ottawa.

Chahal, Liberal MP for Calgary Skyview, chastised the UCP government during a press conference at the Harry Hays building in Calgary Wednesday for their moratorium on renewable energy production and the roughly $8 million taxpayer-funded advertising campaign, “to promote misinformation and fear-mongering about the clean electricity regulations.”

The federal government rolled out its Clean Electricity Regulations over the summer with the goal of a net-zero electricity grid by 2035. The Alberta government has said taking these measures – specifically by 2035 – threatens the stability of the grid and will lead to skyrocketing electricity prices.

Chahal said that Alberta Premier Danielle Smith’s national advertising campaign is preying on peoples’ fears of blackouts and high electricity bills. He said there’s latitude within the plan itself to achieve the targets over time.

“If the premier read the draft regulations, she would see they only start to take effect in 2035. This means the emissions approach zero closer to 2050. That’s because of all the flexibilities that we’ve included. She doesn’t mention that,” Chahal said.

Claims power plant operators will go to jail for non-compliance and the fact that 72 natural gas plants in Alberta would operate in some capacity past 2035 is overheated rhetoric, Chahal said.

“She is clearly making baseless claims to advance her own political agenda,” he said.

Rebecca Schulz, Alberta’s Minister of Environment and Protected Areas, responded to Chahal’s remarks Wednesday afternoon. She said Albertans and Canadians are very concerned about the impact of these regulations.

“It sounds like MP George Chahal has been spending too much time in Ottawa listening to his ideological, out-of-touch Environment Minister Steven Guilbeault,” she said.

Mission to Ottawa

Minister Schulz said that the sides are united in their goal of carbon neutrality by 2050 – just not the 2035 timeline for net-zero electricity.

“Ottawa seems intent on moving forward with their destructive and unconstitutional plans to reduce emissions on an unachievable timeline,” an email response read.

“That’s why the Premier will be travelling to Ottawa next week to share this message when she testifies to the Parliamentary Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development.”

Chahal also took issue with the province’s moratorium on renewable energy projects. He said that two-thirds of Albertans were opposed to the ban. Chahal may have been referring to the Calgary Climate Hub survey that was done in September.  Another survey done by Angus Reid showed a split among Albertans.

The province has repeatedly claimed the Alberta Electricity System Operator and rural communities asked for the moratorium. Chahal said that was false. Meanwhile, he said the ban has put the chill on 118 projects and $33 billion in investment.

“Premier Smith is standing in the way of billions of dollars of investment in our province,” he said.

“She needs to get out of the way and lift the moratorium immediately.”  

In August, the province announced a six-month moratorium on new wind and solar installations. They said they wanted to address landowner concerns with the projects and ensure a proper end-of-life plan for the installations.

A recent report by the UCalgary School of Public Policy suggested a review of the province’s energy regulator due to the unfunded liability of orphan oil and gas wells. They believe that the once-producing energy infrastructure deficit now tops $60 billion.

Chahal said the province should be able to work with regulators as the renewables projects are moving through the development process to ensure the appropriate guidelines are in place.