Gateway Gazette

Three-Quarters of Alberta Entrepreneurs Oppose Expedited Phase-Out of Coal Generated Electricity

Removing affordable and reliable electricity sources fast-tracks economic pain 

CALGARY – The Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) released new survey data today that shows Alberta’s entrepreneurs oppose plans to accelerate the phase-out of all coal generated electricity. This follows yesterday’s reaction from Alberta’s Environment Minister to the federal government’s intention to eliminate the use of coal to generate electricity nationally by 2030.

“Environmental issues are a concern for many Canadians, small business owners included. They feel strongly about environmental stewardship, and support conservation efforts, but also want to grow the economy and create jobs,” said Amber Ruddy, Alberta Director.

Coal generated electricity has historically been Alberta’s main source of power. Under existing federal rules, two-thirds of the province’s 18 coal-fired power plants are scheduled to be retired by 2030.

However, the Alberta and now federal government are moving ahead with plans to phase-out all coal generated electricity by 2030, and in turn, many people are concerned it will mean added costs for taxpayers, job losses, and higher electricity bills for small and medium-sized business.

Business owners across Alberta were asked: Should the Alberta Government phase-out all coal generated electricity by 2030 in order to transition to renewable energy?  Only 14 per cent said yes, while 73 per cent said no, 12 per cent were undecided, and 1 per cent had no interest.

“Entrepreneurs are worried the accelerated phase-out will mean higher electricity costs for their business. While the demand for electricity grows, so will the need for the Alberta government to spend large sums of taxpayer dollars on alternative energy sources. The provincial government has been unable or unwilling to explain what the financial cost will be for small business,” said Ruddy.

“This is policy will pile additional costs onto Alberta’s small businesses for decades to come. Before moving ahead one more inch, the government should conduct and publicly release a comprehensive impact analysis on employment and the economy, and what it will mean for small and medium-sized businesses and their employees,” concluded Ruddy. 

CFIB is Canada’s largest association of small- and medium-sized businesses with 109,000 members across every sector and region, including 10,000 in Alberta.

CFIB Survey Question

This survey was conducted from June 1st to July 15 2016.

There were 656 responses from Alberta businesses. 

Background: Coal has traditionally been Alberta’s main source of electricity. Under existing federal regulations, coal-fired power plants must meet greenhouse gas emission standards or retire when they reach 50 years of operation. This means 12 of Alberta’s 18 coal-fired generating plants are scheduled to be retired by 2030. Some suggest the Alberta Government should phase out all coal generated electricity by 2030 in order to transition to renewable energy. Doing so would require that the remaining 6 plants shut down early, which may incur additional costs to government.

Supporters say: It would reduce the amount of air pollution and improve air quality and health; Environmental leadership would give Alberta the credibility needed to attract investment in its renewable resources.

Opponents say: It would lead to higher electricity rates as renewable resources (e.g. wind and solar) are more costly and often unreliable; People working in the coal mining and energy industry will lose their jobs.

Should the Alberta Government phase-out all coal generated electricity by 2030 in order to transition to renewable energy?

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