Governments need new agreements for energy exports, former federal minister says
A former federal environment minister says work needs to be done to make sure renewable energy in Canada can be sold to American markets.
According to Jim Prentice, now a vice-president with CIBC, a number of New England states have laws through their renewable portfolio standards that prohibit the use of hydroelectric power options available from Canada.
Such standards would have implications for energy generated through the Muskrat Falls hydroelectric development in Labrador.
“It essentially means Canadian hydroelectricity, although we see it as renewable — the ultimate renewable energy — it doesn’t qualify as renewable energy in those states, because the renewable portfolio standard doesn’t recognize it. So basically you have a state-level interference with the market, and my point is if the North American market is going to work efficiently, we need the same standards on both sides of the Canada-U.S. border, and these renewable portfolio standards get in the way of our ability to sell Canadian hydro.”
This comes as the United States moves closer towards energy independence, he said.
“If you look at the numbers in terms of energy production in the United States and imports and exports (between) Canada and the U.S., it’s increasingly clear that the U.S. is moving towards energy independence.”
Combining the resources of Mexico, Canada and the U.S., Prentice predicts those nations will be energy independent by 2020. He said it becomes all the more important to keep the marketplace open and free from what he labels “sub-national impediments,” such as those state laws.
Asked about the implications for such standards with respect to Muskrat Falls, Prentice said they do not help.
“Well, it’s not helpful, and we need to make sure that across the United States, Canadian hydroelectricity is recognized as a renewable energy that is good for consumers.”
Prentice discussed the matter at an event in Halifax Tuesday hosted by the Maritimes Energy Association. He said federal government in both countries should establish working groups that focus on standards on both sides of the border.
“It can be done, for example, through the clean energy dialogue that exists between Canada and the United States. It’s really part of overall regulatory harmonization between Canada and the U.S., which is quite important given the energy systems we’re taking about are continental in nature.”