Ottawa and the province of Saskatchewan have engaged in a war of words over net-zero electricity, with the federal environment minister making veiled threats over its Clean Electricity Standard.
On May 17, the Saskatchewan Party and NDP Opposition voted unanimously to support the province’s plan for affordable, reliable power generation to 2035 and beyond.
Environment Minister Steven Guilbeault told Saskatchewan it will be illegal to operate coal-fired power plants past 2030 without technology to reduce carbon emissions.
According to the Canadian Environmental Protection Act (EPA) framework, provinces must either decommission their coal power plants, transition them to natural gas, or outfit them with carbon-capture systems by 2030. To ignore the framework would constitute a Criminal Code violation.
Today in the Assembly, Saskatchewan Party and NDP MLAs voted unanimously to support our government’s plan for affordable, reliable power generation to 2035 and beyond. pic.twitter.com/t6AeK0hMhy
— Scott Moe (@PremierScottMoe) May 17, 2023
“We’ve regulated the ban on coal through [the Canadian Environmental Protection Act], which is a criminal tool that the federal government has,” said Guilbeault. “So not complying with this regulation would violate Canada’s Criminal Code.”
Saskatchewan joined Alberta this month to refute the Clean Electricity Standards, citing concerns about the affordability of residential utility bills.
“We’re going to continue to chart Saskatchewan’s path,” Premier Scott Moe told reporters. “It may not necessarily be Canada’s path, and we’ll have more details in the coming weeks.”
“If someone’s going to jail. Come get me,” he said, reacting to Guilbeault’s comments.
To ensure affordable electricity, Moe clarified his government may operate its three coal plants beyond 2030 until the early 2040s. The natural gas plants currently in operation will remain in use until the end of its lifespan.
Saskatchewan must have affordable and reliable electricity available on demand.
Our plan will grow electricity generation to keep pace with our economic and population growth while working towards an affordable and realistic plan to reach net zero by 2050.
We believe the… pic.twitter.com/WHOpMNHTuN
— Scott Moe (@PremierScottMoe) May 17, 2023
“We are interested in running those [coal] assets to the end of their life, which is 2042 and 2044,” said Moe.
According to Pipeline Online, Saskatchewan (84%) relied heavily on natural gas and coal to satisfy its energy demand last winter. Moe said they would not reach net zero by 2035 or phase out conventional coal by 2030.
Guilbeailt said the federal government claims a fully net-zero grid by 2035, with specific measures still under review. He urged the premier to review it first before dismissing the plan.
Guilbeailt said the federal government claims a fully net-zero grid by 2035, with specific measures still under review. He urged Moe to review it first before dismissing the plan.
Moe and Justice Minister Bronwyn Eyre accused Ottawa of intruding on provincial jurisdiction concerning natural resources and energy.
Provincial autonomy advocates can rejoice after Saskatchewan passed Bill 88, The Saskatchewan First Act, Thursday morning to reiterate areas of provincial jurisdiction, particularly resource development.
MORE: https://t.co/lbSvm1NKlz pic.twitter.com/tX9u9L4iLp
— Rebel News Canada (@RebelNews_CA) March 17, 2023
“We reserve the right provincially to choose how we will produce that power, whether it’s natural gas or coal-fired power production. It’s our interpretation that these decisions on how you produce power are most certainly in provincial jurisdiction,” said Moe.
Eyre said the province could invoke the Saskatchewan First Act to counter federal overreach.
“We can’t invest in powering this province — and keeping rates affordable as we do it — with these threats hanging over us. That would represent stranded assets to us and an enormous cost for the people of this province,” said Eyre.
The province intends to pursue an affordable and realistic plan to increase electricity generation that keeps pace with its economic and population growth. They said reaching net zero by 2050 is more palatable.
“We believe the federal government can work with Saskatchewan to not only recognize our net zero by 2050 plan but make a substantial contribution to affordable, reliable power that reduces emissions,” said Moe.
Saskatchewan has joined Alberta in refuting Ottawa’s incoming clean electricity standards. They remain under development as Canada continues its fight against climate change.https://t.co/Se06aSyLaC
— Rebel News Canada (@RebelNews_CA) May 11, 2023