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Alberta puts six month pause on new renewable energy projects

The government of Alberta is halting approvals of new renewable electricity generation projects.
Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau helps to install solar panels on a roof during a campaign stop in Iqaluit, Monday, Aug. 30, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette

The government of Alberta is halting approvals of new renewable electricity generation projects.

In an Aug. 3 announcement, the province said in order to address concerns about electricity projects, they won’t approve any project over one megawatt until Feb. 29, 2024, and will review policies and procedures for the development of renewable electricity generation.

“We are proud of our leadership in responsible renewable energy development and we are committed to its continued growth. This approach will provide future renewable investments with the certainty and clarity required for long-term development,” said Nathan Neudorf, Minister of Affordability and Utilities.

According to a release, the pause is a result of “concerns raised from municipalities and landowners related to responsible land use and the rapid pace of renewables development”.

“RMA is pleased by this decision to develop a provincewide plan for how the industry can grow strategically and responsibly,” said Paul McLauchlin, president of Rural Municipalities of Alberta.

“Rural municipalities cover roughly 85 per cent of Alberta’s land and their voices must be included in the approval process for all renewable energy projects. We look forward to working with the Government of Alberta to create an approval process that balances provincial and local perspectives and positions Alberta as a leader in responsible renewable energy development.”

Devin Dreeshen, UCP MLA for Innisfail- Sylvan Lake showed support for the decision Thursday.

Alberta should have rules that ensure landowners and taxpayers are not burdened with the significant environmental cleanup of renewable energy projects,” he tweeted.

“This is the right move to create a better set of rules to protect Albertans.”

The opposition NDP said the announcement places Alberta’s reputation as the capital of wind and solar energy in Canada at serious risk at a time when it’s attracting more than $4 billion in investment.

“Danielle Smith and the UCP are discouraging investment at a time when Alberta needs more energy supply—more low-cost supply—and more investment to support future economic growth,” said Nagwan Al-Guneid, Alberta NDP critic for Energy and Climate (Electricity, Utilities & Renewables).

“This decision will delay jobs, strand capital, and snuff investment in such a vital part of our economy. By announcing a moratorium on renewable energy, the UCP is harming our energy sector and economy, and making life more expensive for Albertans.”

The Alberta Utilities Commission, which is an independent, quasi-judicial agency that is responsible for the approval of Alberta’s electricity generation projects is currently reviewing 15 renewable, thermal and energy storage projects.

The AUC inquiry will include reviewing the use of agricultural land and public land for wind and solar projects, land reclamation and the role of municipal governments in land selection for project development and review.

“Participants in our public hearings have increasingly raised concerns about the impacts and pace of renewable generation development,” said Carolyn Dahl Rees, chair of the Alberta Utilities Commission.

“We are pleased to support the government in canvassing relevant issues for its development of policy to ensure the economic, orderly and efficient development of electricity generation in Alberta.”

All utility-scale renewable generation projects in Alberta are commercially developed on private land only and can only advance with the permission of private landowners.

Throughout the process, Albertans will still be able to install renewable energy products in their homes and communities will be unaffected by this process.

Black Press Media Staff

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