Alberta Government Signals Greater Customer Choice for Renewable Energy

The Alberta government in its recent Speech from the Throne promised to introduce an alternative renewable energy framework that will allow consumers to exercise choice within the existing system.

In 2007, a report prepared for the Clean Air Strategic Alliance by stakeholders from government, industry and non-government organizations recommended a renewable energy framework that would, among other things:

  • foster market demand;
  • incorporate environmental costs and benefits into the marketplace;
  • establish an emissions trading system; and
  • foster an investment environment for the generation and sale of renewable and alternative power.

Currently, coal-fired plants make up about 41 per cent of Alberta’s installed generating capacity, and natural gas accounts for another 40 per cent. The remainder is hydro, wind and biomass. The Montana-Alberta Tie Line, a 300-megawatt electricity transmission line, recently went into operation and will support the development of wind energy in southern Alberta and northern Montana.

In Alberta, electricity generation is deregulated. Transmission is regulated under a cost-of-service model. Electricity is sold wholesale to market participants through the market-based Power Pool run by the Alberta Electric System Operator. Retail customers can choose between a regulated rate provider or a competitive retail service.

The Speech from the Throne was scarce on details of the government’s proposals.