Gateway Gazette

EPCOR Addressing Climate Change: Our Perspective

 

When it comes to the environment and our changing climate, there can be no doubt: there is a need for action. Growing air emissions, left unabated, lead to costly health and environmental impacts.

The environment, whether it is watershed protection or recycling of retired electrical equipment, factors into everything we do.

In our submission to the Government of Alberta’s Climate Change Advisory Panel and our participation in the panel’s Electricity Technical Sessions, we’ve offered our perspective on how the electric industry can help address the challenge of climate change.

Smoothing the transition to low-emissions electricity

Customers have come to expect highly reliable electricity at affordable rates. However, environmental impacts are not fully reflected in the pricing of resources or goods and services in Alberta.

We support measures that would maintain reliability for customers while achieving environmental results in the lowest possible cost manner.

That means relying on market-based solutions that are simple to understand and administer, and apply more broadly than just the electricity sector. We need to build on the strength of our market as it exists, while preserving investor confidence with an orderly transition to the phase out of coal-fired power generation.

A ‘green’ electric industry by 2030

With decisive action today, we believe that the electric industry can be significantly more green by 2030 — over a 15-year transition period. Here’s how:

  1. Put a stable, predictable price on emissions that will incent a shift to lower-emissions generation. A price of $30 per tonne of carbon, applicable to all emitters, would help facilitate the transition away from coal generation. During the transition, a significant investment in natural gas generation and renewables will be required to ensure grid reliability. Investors will need confidence that returns will not be depressed by government intervention into the timing or quantity of new generation investment.
  2. Phase out coal early. A 40-year timeframe would see all coal units off the grid by 2030 with the exception of newer, high-efficiency generators. However, it must be done in a way that preserves investor confidence in Alberta by allowing coal generators a fair opportunity to recover their costs and make a reasonable return on their investments.
  3. Introduce a renewable portfolio standard. We advocate for requiring electricity users and retailers to procure a percentage of their energy from renewable sources, with the percentage increasing over time. This will create additional market demand for renewables at the lowest possible cost to consumers.
  4. Focus on utility-scale renewable generation developments, which can provide reliable supply from the best locations in Alberta. We prefer this over small scale (e.g. roof-top solar) programs that offer very few benefits and are extremely high cost. There is a place for distributed generation in Alberta, and the industry needs to work with regulators to clarify the rules and provide guidance for distributors and generators.

 

About EPCOR Utilities Inc.

We provide clean water, wastewater services and safe, reliable electricity.

We build, own and operate electrical transmission and distribution networks, water and wastewater treatment facilities and infrastructure in Canada and the United States.

We also provide electricity and water services and products to residential and commercial customers. And, we deliver competitive power systems, transportation electrical systems, energy efficiency consulting and utility support.

EPCOR’s story began over 120 years ago, as Edmonton’s power and water utility — and Canada’s first municipally owned electric utility. “EPCOR Utilities Inc.” has been a stand-alone company since 1996.

The City of Edmonton is our sole Shareholder, and we operate as a commercial entity, governed by an independent Board of Directors. Owing to our governance model and our mandate, we have grown tremendously and more than  doubled our dividend since incorporated in 1996.

 

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