Alberta to Halt Major Renewable Projects Over Rural and Environmental Concerns

Alberta’s UCP government has announced a six-month moratorium on approving wind and solar power projects larger than one megawatt, citing concerns over agricultural land changes, effects on the scenery, system reliability, and reclamation security.

The next six months will see the Alberta Utilities Commission undertake an inquiry to review various aspects related to wind and solar projects, including land reclamation and the role of municipal governments in project development.

“We are proud of our leadership in responsible renewable energy development and we are committed to its continued growth,” explained minister of affordability and utilities Nathan Neudorf, as cited by the Canadian Press. “This approach will provide future renewable investments with the certainty and clarity required for long-term development.”

Alberta has been a leader in renewable energy development in Canada, exceeding its goal of having 15% of the province’s power coming from wind and solar by achieving 17% in 2022. With few regulatory barriers and abundant natural resources, the province was slated to create over 4,500 jobs via $3.7 billion in renewables construction by 2023.

However, the swift expansion has raised alarms, prompting the commission to express concerns during its hearings. This rapid growth, almost faster than anticipated, is part of the rationale behind the announced moratorium. “This is just how fast the energy transition is moving. And because Alberta has been open to it, it’s almost gone faster than anybody could have expected,” said Neudorf, adding that solar development projections alone tripled between May and June, jumping from 2,000 to 6,000 megawatts. “The grid operator really (was) not prepared for this rush.”

While some groups like Rural Municipalities Alberta welcome the move with hopes of an approval process that includes local concerns, environmental groups have quickly condemned it. The Canadian Climate Institute warned that the moratorium could disrupt the market and create uncertainty for businesses. “This moratorium on renewable energy is bad for business, bad for the environment and bad for Albertans,” argued Allen Braude from Environmental Defence.

Meanwhile, University of Alberta energy economist Andrew Leach pointed out an inconsistency in the government’s approach. While renewable energy projects are halted, the oil and gas industry is regulated on a project-by-project basis without a similar pause. He emphasized the irony of the situation, as the government is concerned about cleaning up renewable energy sites but faces billions in environmental liabilities from the oil and gas industry with little security or a concrete cleanup plan.

“No one can imagine in the middle of an oilsands boom everyone saying what we need is a six-month moratorium on new approvals until we figure out how we’re going to manage cumulative effects,” Leach said.

Information for this briefing was found via the Canadian Press and the sources mentioned. The author has no securities or affiliations related to this organization. Not a recommendation to buy or sell. Always do additional research and consult a professional before purchasing a security. The author holds no licenses.

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