Wind turbines near Pincher Creek, Alberta, on Dec. 1, 2023. Under the new rules, these turbines would never be allowed. And since they’re nearing their end of life, they might not be around much longer, either. Photo by Brian Zinchuk

And reclamation is going to be taken care of from the get-go from now on

EDMONTON – Last August, Alberta Premier Danielle Smith shocked the renewable energy industry by imposing a seven-month pause on final approvals for new major renewable energy projects. That pause, so the Alberta Utilities Commission (AUC) could conduct an inquiry and issue a report, comes to an end on Feb. 29. On Feb. 28, Smith rolled out her government’s new regulations going forward, regulations that place restrictions on siting, and impose a reclamation scheme, among other things.

The announcement was made a day after Alberta’s 45 wind farms spread across the southern part of the province produced next to zero power for 12 hours. For over 40 minutes, the 1,519 wind turbines in Alberta were producing net zero power whatsoever. For those 12 hours, the 4,481 megawatts of installed wind power were generating under 10 megawatts.

“We instituted the pause for one simple reason: We needed an affordable and reliable grid. The emergency alert we had during that bitterly cold weekend in January showed us the importance of such at the same time we needed to place Albertans,” said Smith in a press conference from Edmonton.

While wind and solar projects were most significant, the pause included large scale geothermal, hydroelectric and biogas as well.

Among the new regulations, wind and solar projects will not be allowed on Class 1 or 2 lands “unless the proponent can demonstrate the ability for both crops and/or livestock to coexist with the renewable generation project.” It’s what the government is calling an “agriculture first” approach.

 

They also won’t be allowed closer than 35 kilometres to “pristine viewscapes,” which was not clearly defined. “Buffer zones of a minimum of 35 kilometres will be established around protected areas and other “pristine viewscapes” as designated by the province. New wind projects will no longer be permitted within those buffer zones. Other proposed developments located within the buffer zone may be subject to a visual impact assessment before approval,” the Alberta government said in a release.

That, more than anything else drew scorn from critics, including federal Minister of Environment and Climate Change Steven Guilbeault.

But beyond placement restrictions, perhaps the most significant change is the implementation of a reclamation policy, to be funded by a bond or security paid the developers and held by the government. This policy change was a result of hard lessons learned from the oil and gas industry, according to Smith. The release noted, “Developers will be responsible for reclamation costs via bond or security. The reclamation costs will either be provided directly to the Alberta government or may be negotiated with landowners if sufficient evidence is provided to the AUC.”

All of the changes only impact new projects going forward, and do not impact the existing 45 grid-scale wind farms and 43 solar farms already tied into the grid, or ones currently under construction.

Municipalities will now automatically be granted the right to take part in AUC hearings, and their costs will be covered by the project proponents.

Tying all the new power projects into the grid necessitates more transmission lines. The government will also make changes to Alberta’s Transmission Regulations which are expected in the coming months as the engagement process continues. Renewable projects should expect changes in how transmission costs are allocated.

  • 0067 PFM SaskWorks Payroll Investment Plan
    0067 PFM SaskWorks Payroll Investment Plan
  • 0066 WBPC Promo video 30 seconds
    0066 WBPC Promo video 30 seconds
  • 0065 Anova Resources field operator Oxbow
    0065 Anova Resources field operator Oxbow
  • 0064 Estevan OTS
    0064 Estevan OTS
  • 0063 Turnbull Excavating hiring crusher
    0063 Turnbull Excavating hiring crusher
  • 0062 TED_EPAC_Technology_30
    0062 TED_EPAC_Technology_30
  • 0061 SIMSA 2024 For Sask Buy Sask
    0061 SIMSA 2024 For Sask Buy Sask
  • 0060 Arizona Lithium Lease building
    0060 Arizona Lithium Lease building
  • 0059 Southeast College Heavy Equipment Operator
    0059 Southeast College Heavy Equipment Operator
  • 0058 Royal Helium Steveville opens anonymous rocket
    0058 Royal Helium Steveville opens anonymous rocket
  • 0055 Smart Power Be Smart with your Power office
    0055 Smart Power Be Smart with your Power office
  • 0053 Kingston Midstream Westspur Alameda Click Before You Dig large text
    0053 Kingston Midstream Westspur Alameda Click Before You Dig large text
  • 0052 Predator Inspections
    0052 Predator Inspections
  • 0051 JML Hiring Pumpjack assembly
    0051 JML Hiring Pumpjack assembly
  • 0049 Scotsburn Dental soft guitar
    0049 Scotsburn Dental soft guitar
  • 0046 City of Estevan This is Estevan
    0046 City of Estevan This is Estevan
  • 0041 DEEP Since 2018 now we are going to build
    0041 DEEP Since 2018 now we are going to build
  • 0032 IWS Summer hiring rock trailer music
  • 0022 Grimes winter hiring
  • 0021 OSY Rentals S8 Promo
  • 0018 IWS Hiring Royal Summer
  • 0015 Latus Viro
    0015 Latus Viro
  • 0013 Panther Drilling PO ad 03 top drive rigs
  • 0011
  • 0006 JK Junior
  • 0002 gilliss casing services
    0002 gilliss casing services
  • 9002 Pipeline Online 30 sec EBEX
    9002 Pipeline Online 30 sec EBEX
  • 9001

 

Sorting out messy free for all

Smith said, “We’re addressing the mess that the former NDP government left behind. When they rushed their plans for a coal phase out they neglected to change the corresponding transmission policy. That was irresponsible, and we’ve been consulting with industry for years on how to correct it. Changes to Alberta’s transmission regulation are expected in the coming months as the engagement process continues. And renewable product projects should expect changes in how transmission costs are allocated.

Meaningful engagement will be required before any policy changes for projects on Crown land and would not come into effect until late 2025, the government said. Any development of renewable development on Crown lands will be on a case-by-case basis. “Another duty that we have and that we will honor is the duty to consult with First Nations meaningful engagement will be required before any policy changes for projects on Crown land,” Smith said.

Nathan Neudorf, Minister of Affordability and Utilities, noted, “When the NDP throw open the gates for renewable energy development, our province became a free for all completely lacking sufficient rules or guidelines.”

  • 0067 PFM SaskWorks Payroll Investment Plan
    0067 PFM SaskWorks Payroll Investment Plan
  • 0066 WBPC Promo video 30 seconds
    0066 WBPC Promo video 30 seconds
  • 0065 Anova Resources field operator Oxbow
    0065 Anova Resources field operator Oxbow
  • 0064 Estevan OTS
    0064 Estevan OTS
  • 0063 Turnbull Excavating hiring crusher
    0063 Turnbull Excavating hiring crusher
  • 0062 TED_EPAC_Technology_30
    0062 TED_EPAC_Technology_30
  • 0061 SIMSA 2024 For Sask Buy Sask
    0061 SIMSA 2024 For Sask Buy Sask
  • 0060 Arizona Lithium Lease building
    0060 Arizona Lithium Lease building
  • 0059 Southeast College Heavy Equipment Operator
    0059 Southeast College Heavy Equipment Operator
  • 0058 Royal Helium Steveville opens anonymous rocket
    0058 Royal Helium Steveville opens anonymous rocket
  • 0055 Smart Power Be Smart with your Power office
    0055 Smart Power Be Smart with your Power office
  • 0053 Kingston Midstream Westspur Alameda Click Before You Dig large text
    0053 Kingston Midstream Westspur Alameda Click Before You Dig large text
  • 0052 Predator Inspections
    0052 Predator Inspections
  • 0051 JML Hiring Pumpjack assembly
    0051 JML Hiring Pumpjack assembly
  • 0049 Scotsburn Dental soft guitar
    0049 Scotsburn Dental soft guitar
  • 0046 City of Estevan This is Estevan
    0046 City of Estevan This is Estevan
  • 0041 DEEP Since 2018 now we are going to build
    0041 DEEP Since 2018 now we are going to build
  • 0032 IWS Summer hiring rock trailer music
  • 0022 Grimes winter hiring
  • 0021 OSY Rentals S8 Promo
  • 0018 IWS Hiring Royal Summer
  • 0015 Latus Viro
    0015 Latus Viro
  • 0013 Panther Drilling PO ad 03 top drive rigs
  • 0011
  • 0006 JK Junior
  • 0002 gilliss casing services
    0002 gilliss casing services
  • 9002 Pipeline Online 30 sec EBEX
    9002 Pipeline Online 30 sec EBEX
  • 9001

 

Renewable rush and no guarantees

Smith noted that previously, Alberta had been attracting as much as 92 per cent of renewable project growth last year. Smith said, “When we first instituted this pause, the AUC had 13 applications ready for review. During the pause that number doubled to 26. And I expect this trend will continue.

“But we must be responsible when it comes to approving applications. Renewables have a place in our energy mix, but the fact remains that they are intermittent and unreliable. They are not the silver bullet for Alberta’s electricity needs. And they are not the silver bullet of electricity affordability, because each new development risk driving up the transmission costs and makes Alberta’s utility bills even more expensive. So, we’ve been doing the work to ensure that we have clear rules for the regulator investors, municipalities and Alberta landowners.”

Neudorf said those 26 projects before the AUC will be affected by these changes. “It is very difficult to count which projects may or may not come forward. But all future projects after March 1 will be under the new policy guidelines,” he said.

Projects did move ahead during the pause, he said, noting, “There was only a pause on final approval.”

Smith added, “The thing is, you don’t get a guaranteed ‘yes’ in any approval process. And so, this will be the new lens that they look at, and perhaps some of the projects will modify to make sure they’re on marginal lands, to locate closer to transmission lines, to make sure that they’re not interfering with vistas. So there is an opportunity now that everyone knows what our expectation is for the regulator, to look at the siting and to put it through that lens.

“And then if there’s modifications needed, then that will occur. There’s also an opportunity for municipalities to come in and there’s support or opposition to it. I mean, there are many municipalities that are in favor of wanting more of this development. So having that additional voice will have to be part of the process as well.”

  • 0067 PFM SaskWorks Payroll Investment Plan
    0067 PFM SaskWorks Payroll Investment Plan
  • 0066 WBPC Promo video 30 seconds
    0066 WBPC Promo video 30 seconds
  • 0065 Anova Resources field operator Oxbow
    0065 Anova Resources field operator Oxbow
  • 0064 Estevan OTS
    0064 Estevan OTS
  • 0063 Turnbull Excavating hiring crusher
    0063 Turnbull Excavating hiring crusher
  • 0062 TED_EPAC_Technology_30
    0062 TED_EPAC_Technology_30
  • 0061 SIMSA 2024 For Sask Buy Sask
    0061 SIMSA 2024 For Sask Buy Sask
  • 0060 Arizona Lithium Lease building
    0060 Arizona Lithium Lease building
  • 0059 Southeast College Heavy Equipment Operator
    0059 Southeast College Heavy Equipment Operator
  • 0058 Royal Helium Steveville opens anonymous rocket
    0058 Royal Helium Steveville opens anonymous rocket
  • 0055 Smart Power Be Smart with your Power office
    0055 Smart Power Be Smart with your Power office
  • 0053 Kingston Midstream Westspur Alameda Click Before You Dig large text
    0053 Kingston Midstream Westspur Alameda Click Before You Dig large text
  • 0052 Predator Inspections
    0052 Predator Inspections
  • 0051 JML Hiring Pumpjack assembly
    0051 JML Hiring Pumpjack assembly
  • 0049 Scotsburn Dental soft guitar
    0049 Scotsburn Dental soft guitar
  • 0046 City of Estevan This is Estevan
    0046 City of Estevan This is Estevan
  • 0041 DEEP Since 2018 now we are going to build
    0041 DEEP Since 2018 now we are going to build
  • 0032 IWS Summer hiring rock trailer music
  • 0022 Grimes winter hiring
  • 0021 OSY Rentals S8 Promo
  • 0018 IWS Hiring Royal Summer
  • 0015 Latus Viro
    0015 Latus Viro
  • 0013 Panther Drilling PO ad 03 top drive rigs
  • 0011
  • 0006 JK Junior
  • 0002 gilliss casing services
    0002 gilliss casing services
  • 9002 Pipeline Online 30 sec EBEX
    9002 Pipeline Online 30 sec EBEX
  • 9001

 

Protecting the mountain view

It became clear in the press conference that these new regulations mean there won’t be any new wind turbines built with the Rockies behind them, ruining the view of said mountains.

Smith said, “Albertans have been vocal that they don’t want large scale developments to interfere with our provinces most beautiful natural features. You cannot build wind turbines the size of the Calgary tower in front of a UNESCO World Heritage site or on Nose Hill or in your neighbor’s backyard. We have a duty to protect the natural beauty and communities of our province.”

“Pristine landscapes” like this would no longer sullied by wind turbines, once they reach their end of life, if the new rules stick. And no new ones that aren’t already approved would be allowed. Photo by Clive Schaupmeyer

 

One reporter said of ‘pristine landscapes’, “That’s pretty arbitrary term … What’s the definition for that and who decides?”

Neudorf said, “There is no universal definition for that. Our government will continue to work on policy with other ministries, particularly environmentally protected areas and Forestry and Parks, obviously, and tourism and may have some contribution to that as well.

“Right now, it is generally accepted that in our prairies, if we look to the west, our foothills and the majestic Rocky Mountains are fairly significant in that. And those park boundaries will be the beginning points of that conversation.”

Another reporter asked about how applying a 35 kilometre buffer to protected landscapes could exclude large areas of southern Alberta. This was a common thread in criticism of the announcement, based on a map posted on X.

  • 0067 PFM SaskWorks Payroll Investment Plan
    0067 PFM SaskWorks Payroll Investment Plan
  • 0066 WBPC Promo video 30 seconds
    0066 WBPC Promo video 30 seconds
  • 0065 Anova Resources field operator Oxbow
    0065 Anova Resources field operator Oxbow
  • 0064 Estevan OTS
    0064 Estevan OTS
  • 0063 Turnbull Excavating hiring crusher
    0063 Turnbull Excavating hiring crusher
  • 0062 TED_EPAC_Technology_30
    0062 TED_EPAC_Technology_30
  • 0061 SIMSA 2024 For Sask Buy Sask
    0061 SIMSA 2024 For Sask Buy Sask
  • 0060 Arizona Lithium Lease building
    0060 Arizona Lithium Lease building
  • 0059 Southeast College Heavy Equipment Operator
    0059 Southeast College Heavy Equipment Operator
  • 0058 Royal Helium Steveville opens anonymous rocket
    0058 Royal Helium Steveville opens anonymous rocket
  • 0055 Smart Power Be Smart with your Power office
    0055 Smart Power Be Smart with your Power office
  • 0053 Kingston Midstream Westspur Alameda Click Before You Dig large text
    0053 Kingston Midstream Westspur Alameda Click Before You Dig large text
  • 0052 Predator Inspections
    0052 Predator Inspections
  • 0051 JML Hiring Pumpjack assembly
    0051 JML Hiring Pumpjack assembly
  • 0049 Scotsburn Dental soft guitar
    0049 Scotsburn Dental soft guitar
  • 0046 City of Estevan This is Estevan
    0046 City of Estevan This is Estevan
  • 0041 DEEP Since 2018 now we are going to build
    0041 DEEP Since 2018 now we are going to build
  • 0032 IWS Summer hiring rock trailer music
  • 0022 Grimes winter hiring
  • 0021 OSY Rentals S8 Promo
  • 0018 IWS Hiring Royal Summer
  • 0015 Latus Viro
    0015 Latus Viro
  • 0013 Panther Drilling PO ad 03 top drive rigs
  • 0011
  • 0006 JK Junior
  • 0002 gilliss casing services
    0002 gilliss casing services
  • 9002 Pipeline Online 30 sec EBEX
    9002 Pipeline Online 30 sec EBEX
  • 9001

 

Neudorf said, “I think the province is much wider than 35 kilometres. You could go all the way to Saskatchewan. I think there’s many locations there. And I think, again, significant stakeholders and tourism industry, in particular, have spoken to how valuable those viewscapes are.

“And that number is not arbitrary. Again, there have been many jurisdictions around the world, the UK, BC, and a number in the US that have determined that visual impacts can be impacted beginning at 20 kilometres and move out to 35. And we have decided that in our case, with the flat prairies leading to those foothills, that 35 is the most appropriate. And we will proceed on that understanding.”

Asked if similar viewscape restrictions will apply to oil and gas, logging or coal, Neudorf said, “So this will begin March 1, and will apply to the vertical footprint of wind turbines. Other projects of all kinds could trigger visual assessment need, if they’re within that spacing.

“One example to use: anything on the ridge is far more visible than if it might be in a valley or behind the bluff. So that is what we’ve asked the AUC to determine with site visits so that they can more accurately determine that visual impact.”

Wind farms in southern Alberta are commonly placed along ridges to take advantage of the additional height and greater winds. Indeed, several existing wind farms include Blackspring Ridge, Castle Rock Ridge, Cowley Ridge and Rattlesnake Ridge. Cowley Ridge, as an example, is near Pincher Creek, on the edge of the foothills, exactly in the type of location that would be banned under the new regulations.

Many of Alberta’s first wind farms were built in the Pincher Creek area, and are soon reaching end of life. If these restrictions are put in place, then those locations would almost certainly be out of bounds to be redeveloped with new, much larger wind turbines.

  • 0067 PFM SaskWorks Payroll Investment Plan
    0067 PFM SaskWorks Payroll Investment Plan
  • 0066 WBPC Promo video 30 seconds
    0066 WBPC Promo video 30 seconds
  • 0065 Anova Resources field operator Oxbow
    0065 Anova Resources field operator Oxbow
  • 0064 Estevan OTS
    0064 Estevan OTS
  • 0063 Turnbull Excavating hiring crusher
    0063 Turnbull Excavating hiring crusher
  • 0062 TED_EPAC_Technology_30
    0062 TED_EPAC_Technology_30
  • 0061 SIMSA 2024 For Sask Buy Sask
    0061 SIMSA 2024 For Sask Buy Sask
  • 0060 Arizona Lithium Lease building
    0060 Arizona Lithium Lease building
  • 0059 Southeast College Heavy Equipment Operator
    0059 Southeast College Heavy Equipment Operator
  • 0058 Royal Helium Steveville opens anonymous rocket
    0058 Royal Helium Steveville opens anonymous rocket
  • 0055 Smart Power Be Smart with your Power office
    0055 Smart Power Be Smart with your Power office
  • 0053 Kingston Midstream Westspur Alameda Click Before You Dig large text
    0053 Kingston Midstream Westspur Alameda Click Before You Dig large text
  • 0052 Predator Inspections
    0052 Predator Inspections
  • 0051 JML Hiring Pumpjack assembly
    0051 JML Hiring Pumpjack assembly
  • 0049 Scotsburn Dental soft guitar
    0049 Scotsburn Dental soft guitar
  • 0046 City of Estevan This is Estevan
    0046 City of Estevan This is Estevan
  • 0041 DEEP Since 2018 now we are going to build
    0041 DEEP Since 2018 now we are going to build
  • 0032 IWS Summer hiring rock trailer music
  • 0022 Grimes winter hiring
  • 0021 OSY Rentals S8 Promo
  • 0018 IWS Hiring Royal Summer
  • 0015 Latus Viro
    0015 Latus Viro
  • 0013 Panther Drilling PO ad 03 top drive rigs
  • 0011
  • 0006 JK Junior
  • 0002 gilliss casing services
    0002 gilliss casing services
  • 9002 Pipeline Online 30 sec EBEX
    9002 Pipeline Online 30 sec EBEX
  • 9001

 

Reclamation bond

The oil and gas industry, after decades of operation without firm reclamation plans in place, drove a lot of the thinking for the burgeoning renewables industry.

Smith said, “Developers will be responsible for reclamation costs via bond or security.”

When a bond will be due hasn’t been settled yet, according to Neudorf. “First, we’re seeking to find the best evaluation and the extent of any recommendation. And then we will work with industry on how they would present that and pay that forward in what security and whether it’s an interest-bearing account and all of those kinds of considerations, we will continue to work with industry on resolving that as quickly as possible.”

While the principle is similar to oil and gas reclamation, there’s a lot of differences, he noted, including the very nature of oil and gas products. There’s no physical oil and gas in renewables.

“We know that many footings for wind turbines, in particular, can be 30 feet down. So we are working with industry and third party representatives to find out what should be established in removal,” Neudorf said.

Smith said, “Look, obviously, there were errors made in the past on how to address the issue of future liability for oil and gas. So you don’t correct that problem by compounding it, when you have a new opportunity to create a an approach that perhaps the oil and gas industry should have had from the beginning.

“I was a landowner advocate going back to 1997. So I’ve given quite a bit of thought to how to protect landowner rights. And it seems to me that on a go forward, if you’re putting aside a little bit each year, and it’s growing with interest, by end of life, you should have enough money set aside in order to reclaim it, so that if that property transfers, then a pot of money goes along with it.

  • 0067 PFM SaskWorks Payroll Investment Plan
    0067 PFM SaskWorks Payroll Investment Plan
  • 0066 WBPC Promo video 30 seconds
    0066 WBPC Promo video 30 seconds
  • 0065 Anova Resources field operator Oxbow
    0065 Anova Resources field operator Oxbow
  • 0064 Estevan OTS
    0064 Estevan OTS
  • 0063 Turnbull Excavating hiring crusher
    0063 Turnbull Excavating hiring crusher
  • 0062 TED_EPAC_Technology_30
    0062 TED_EPAC_Technology_30
  • 0061 SIMSA 2024 For Sask Buy Sask
    0061 SIMSA 2024 For Sask Buy Sask
  • 0060 Arizona Lithium Lease building
    0060 Arizona Lithium Lease building
  • 0059 Southeast College Heavy Equipment Operator
    0059 Southeast College Heavy Equipment Operator
  • 0058 Royal Helium Steveville opens anonymous rocket
    0058 Royal Helium Steveville opens anonymous rocket
  • 0055 Smart Power Be Smart with your Power office
    0055 Smart Power Be Smart with your Power office
  • 0053 Kingston Midstream Westspur Alameda Click Before You Dig large text
    0053 Kingston Midstream Westspur Alameda Click Before You Dig large text
  • 0052 Predator Inspections
    0052 Predator Inspections
  • 0051 JML Hiring Pumpjack assembly
    0051 JML Hiring Pumpjack assembly
  • 0049 Scotsburn Dental soft guitar
    0049 Scotsburn Dental soft guitar
  • 0046 City of Estevan This is Estevan
    0046 City of Estevan This is Estevan
  • 0041 DEEP Since 2018 now we are going to build
    0041 DEEP Since 2018 now we are going to build
  • 0032 IWS Summer hiring rock trailer music
  • 0022 Grimes winter hiring
  • 0021 OSY Rentals S8 Promo
  • 0018 IWS Hiring Royal Summer
  • 0015 Latus Viro
    0015 Latus Viro
  • 0013 Panther Drilling PO ad 03 top drive rigs
  • 0011
  • 0006 JK Junior
  • 0002 gilliss casing services
    0002 gilliss casing services
  • 9002 Pipeline Online 30 sec EBEX
    9002 Pipeline Online 30 sec EBEX
  • 9001

 

“So that’s the kind of approach that they take in the nuclear industry. They take it in the forestry industry, they take it in mining. It’s called an environmental income trust. But we have not, I gather that we that the federal government, at some point, changed that structure for oil and gas. And that’s the kind of approach that we’re thinking of taking here. We have to do a bit more consultation on it.

“But I’m very much interested in seeing the liability, follow the assets so that at end of life, there’s money there to be able to clean it up and the landowner isn’t left holding the bag on it.

“The approach in the oil and gas industry has been different, because there’s a shared liability that happens in the sector through the Orphan Well Fund, the industry as a whole, and the government agreed in the past, that anyone who defaults on an active well goes into the Orphan Well Fund, and then the industry as a whole pays in levies in order to be able to reclaim that.

“We also created a new model that came into place last year of required spend on reclamation. So it’s set at $700 million per year. It was a billion dollars, just shy of a couple $100 million, that the federal government assisted in site rehabilitation during COVID. That we’re entering into, I believe, our third year of doing a liability reclamation.

“So we have to take a different approach, because we have an estimated $30 billion liability. But I would say that the model that we’re putting forward today would be the preferred model for how we how we deal with reclamation costs.”

  • 0067 PFM SaskWorks Payroll Investment Plan
    0067 PFM SaskWorks Payroll Investment Plan
  • 0066 WBPC Promo video 30 seconds
    0066 WBPC Promo video 30 seconds
  • 0065 Anova Resources field operator Oxbow
    0065 Anova Resources field operator Oxbow
  • 0064 Estevan OTS
    0064 Estevan OTS
  • 0063 Turnbull Excavating hiring crusher
    0063 Turnbull Excavating hiring crusher
  • 0062 TED_EPAC_Technology_30
    0062 TED_EPAC_Technology_30
  • 0061 SIMSA 2024 For Sask Buy Sask
    0061 SIMSA 2024 For Sask Buy Sask
  • 0060 Arizona Lithium Lease building
    0060 Arizona Lithium Lease building
  • 0059 Southeast College Heavy Equipment Operator
    0059 Southeast College Heavy Equipment Operator
  • 0058 Royal Helium Steveville opens anonymous rocket
    0058 Royal Helium Steveville opens anonymous rocket
  • 0055 Smart Power Be Smart with your Power office
    0055 Smart Power Be Smart with your Power office
  • 0053 Kingston Midstream Westspur Alameda Click Before You Dig large text
    0053 Kingston Midstream Westspur Alameda Click Before You Dig large text
  • 0052 Predator Inspections
    0052 Predator Inspections
  • 0051 JML Hiring Pumpjack assembly
    0051 JML Hiring Pumpjack assembly
  • 0049 Scotsburn Dental soft guitar
    0049 Scotsburn Dental soft guitar
  • 0046 City of Estevan This is Estevan
    0046 City of Estevan This is Estevan
  • 0041 DEEP Since 2018 now we are going to build
    0041 DEEP Since 2018 now we are going to build
  • 0032 IWS Summer hiring rock trailer music
  • 0022 Grimes winter hiring
  • 0021 OSY Rentals S8 Promo
  • 0018 IWS Hiring Royal Summer
  • 0015 Latus Viro
    0015 Latus Viro
  • 0013 Panther Drilling PO ad 03 top drive rigs
  • 0011
  • 0006 JK Junior
  • 0002 gilliss casing services
    0002 gilliss casing services
  • 9002 Pipeline Online 30 sec EBEX
    9002 Pipeline Online 30 sec EBEX
  • 9001

 

No and yes

One reporter asked, “Landowners in some cases can’t say ‘no’ oil and gas infrastructure. But how do you explain to them that they can’t say ‘yes,’ without caveats to renewable infrastructure?”

Smith responded, “I think we know in rural Alberta, you don’t have carte blanche to use your land in whichever way you want. I mean, they have rules around home quarter, they have rules around spacing on well sites for oil and gas development.

“And so, this just seems to me to also be something that we have to be a little more deliberate about. I mean, we’ve heard stories, for instance, on wind turbines, and I think I may have mentioned this before, on one being built too close to the Oyen airport. So, it required us to change the airport so we could get medivac flights in and out.

“I also hear from landowners in my own riding that a landowner is now impacted and impaired from being able to do spraying because the turbines were built too close to her property. So, we have to be mindful that you can’t use your property in a way that impacts another’s property. And we also have to be mindful that we’re managing it for other uses. It’s not unusual for us to have spacing requirements and other provisions for how intense agriculture land is used.”

  • 0067 PFM SaskWorks Payroll Investment Plan
    0067 PFM SaskWorks Payroll Investment Plan
  • 0066 WBPC Promo video 30 seconds
    0066 WBPC Promo video 30 seconds
  • 0065 Anova Resources field operator Oxbow
    0065 Anova Resources field operator Oxbow
  • 0064 Estevan OTS
    0064 Estevan OTS
  • 0063 Turnbull Excavating hiring crusher
    0063 Turnbull Excavating hiring crusher
  • 0062 TED_EPAC_Technology_30
    0062 TED_EPAC_Technology_30
  • 0061 SIMSA 2024 For Sask Buy Sask
    0061 SIMSA 2024 For Sask Buy Sask
  • 0060 Arizona Lithium Lease building
    0060 Arizona Lithium Lease building
  • 0059 Southeast College Heavy Equipment Operator
    0059 Southeast College Heavy Equipment Operator
  • 0058 Royal Helium Steveville opens anonymous rocket
    0058 Royal Helium Steveville opens anonymous rocket
  • 0055 Smart Power Be Smart with your Power office
    0055 Smart Power Be Smart with your Power office
  • 0053 Kingston Midstream Westspur Alameda Click Before You Dig large text
    0053 Kingston Midstream Westspur Alameda Click Before You Dig large text
  • 0052 Predator Inspections
    0052 Predator Inspections
  • 0051 JML Hiring Pumpjack assembly
    0051 JML Hiring Pumpjack assembly
  • 0049 Scotsburn Dental soft guitar
    0049 Scotsburn Dental soft guitar
  • 0046 City of Estevan This is Estevan
    0046 City of Estevan This is Estevan
  • 0041 DEEP Since 2018 now we are going to build
    0041 DEEP Since 2018 now we are going to build
  • 0032 IWS Summer hiring rock trailer music
  • 0022 Grimes winter hiring
  • 0021 OSY Rentals S8 Promo
  • 0018 IWS Hiring Royal Summer
  • 0015 Latus Viro
    0015 Latus Viro
  • 0013 Panther Drilling PO ad 03 top drive rigs
  • 0011
  • 0006 JK Junior
  • 0002 gilliss casing services
    0002 gilliss casing services
  • 9002 Pipeline Online 30 sec EBEX
    9002 Pipeline Online 30 sec EBEX
  • 9001

 

Natural gas backup and worst case scenario

One of the concerns during the pause was that the Alberta government might insist renewable developers also build natural gas power to back up any new renewable generation. While Smith has talked extensively about the need for additional natural gas generation, that was not a requirement in these new regulations for renewables.

She noted there’s a parallel process to ensure the province is bringing on an equivalent amount of baseload power to meet its needs. “The good news is we’ve got 2,700 megawatts of natural gas coming on. We saw on January 13, that our peak use, at the moment is about 12,343 megawatts. Bringing 2,700 new megawatts of natural gas baseload dispatchable power on gives us a little bit of wiggle room. And we just have to make sure that, as we grow, and I think my minister has suggested that we’re going to need to double our baseload energy need by 2050, we have to make sure that we’re pacing and bringing on renewables and baseload power at the same time.

The 1,519 wind turbines in southern Alberta did not produce one megawatt for over 40 minutes on Tuesday morning. Photo by Clive Schaupmeyer

“We have to have dispatchable, reliable power in place to meet what we think will be our peak power, definitely. Because I think we saw what happened on January the 13th, five o’clock at night, there was zero solar, and there were seven megawatts of wind of 6000 installed megawatts.

“So we have to plan for the worst case scenario, and do our projections about what we think our electricity demand is going to be. And then make sure we’re bringing on enough dispatchable power to be able to meet that. And I think that we have some room, I don’t know how long it will take us before we end up constrained maybe the minister can respond to that. But we’re very pleased to see that, between March and June, we’re going to see the lion’s share of that come on. And so that does give us a little bit of additional, additional room.”

  • 0067 PFM SaskWorks Payroll Investment Plan
    0067 PFM SaskWorks Payroll Investment Plan
  • 0066 WBPC Promo video 30 seconds
    0066 WBPC Promo video 30 seconds
  • 0065 Anova Resources field operator Oxbow
    0065 Anova Resources field operator Oxbow
  • 0064 Estevan OTS
    0064 Estevan OTS
  • 0063 Turnbull Excavating hiring crusher
    0063 Turnbull Excavating hiring crusher
  • 0062 TED_EPAC_Technology_30
    0062 TED_EPAC_Technology_30
  • 0061 SIMSA 2024 For Sask Buy Sask
    0061 SIMSA 2024 For Sask Buy Sask
  • 0060 Arizona Lithium Lease building
    0060 Arizona Lithium Lease building
  • 0059 Southeast College Heavy Equipment Operator
    0059 Southeast College Heavy Equipment Operator
  • 0058 Royal Helium Steveville opens anonymous rocket
    0058 Royal Helium Steveville opens anonymous rocket
  • 0055 Smart Power Be Smart with your Power office
    0055 Smart Power Be Smart with your Power office
  • 0053 Kingston Midstream Westspur Alameda Click Before You Dig large text
    0053 Kingston Midstream Westspur Alameda Click Before You Dig large text
  • 0052 Predator Inspections
    0052 Predator Inspections
  • 0051 JML Hiring Pumpjack assembly
    0051 JML Hiring Pumpjack assembly
  • 0049 Scotsburn Dental soft guitar
    0049 Scotsburn Dental soft guitar
  • 0046 City of Estevan This is Estevan
    0046 City of Estevan This is Estevan
  • 0041 DEEP Since 2018 now we are going to build
    0041 DEEP Since 2018 now we are going to build
  • 0032 IWS Summer hiring rock trailer music
  • 0022 Grimes winter hiring
  • 0021 OSY Rentals S8 Promo
  • 0018 IWS Hiring Royal Summer
  • 0015 Latus Viro
    0015 Latus Viro
  • 0013 Panther Drilling PO ad 03 top drive rigs
  • 0011
  • 0006 JK Junior
  • 0002 gilliss casing services
    0002 gilliss casing services
  • 9002 Pipeline Online 30 sec EBEX
    9002 Pipeline Online 30 sec EBEX
  • 9001

 

Federal reaction

Environment Minister Guilbeault said on X, “Renewable energy companies expect to be treated fairly. By placing overkill conditions on new renewable energy, it has the same effect as a moratorium by burying projects in red tape.

“What’s at stake:

  • Tens of billions dollars’ worth of renewable projects,
  • Tens of thousands of jobs,
  • Over $270 million in tax revenue for rural municipalities

“Danielle Smith and Pierre Poilievre are united in their desire to block clean energy at all costs. Alberta was and should still be a leader clean energy in Canada!”

 

 

Guilbeault reposted a statement from Liberal MP for Calgary Skyview George Chahal, the implication being if a cabinet minister is reposting it, this may be government policy. In the statement, Chahal said:

Before Premier Smith’s job-killing moratorium, Alberta was a world leader in clean electricity. Around three-quarters of all renewable investment in Canada went to Alberta. Alberta’s success is what made Premier Smith’s job-killing actions absolutely shocking.

‍Today, Premier Smith’s government finally announced some details about sunsetting the job-killing moratorium. But, let’s not be fooled, the devil is in the details. Danielle Smith is continuing her ideological crusade against renewables by placing a range of overly-restrictive conditions on future renewable projects. Today, she essentially announced that, with the new 35km rule, the vast majority of Alberta is off limits for new renewables. It seems that the ‘temporary’ job killing moratorium is now becoming permanent job-killing policy, via a red-tape burial of this job-creating industry.

‍Renewable energy companies are simply being asked to be treated fairly. And, the partial details on new restrictions released today are not fair. They are overkill and they threaten to kill jobs. Over $270 million in tax revenue for rural municipalities from solar and wind over the coming years is in jeopardy. $33 billion in clean energy projects that were put on hold. 24,000 jobs.

‍Her ideological mismanagement of our electricity system is already costing Albertans. We saw during our recent cold snap how quick she was to blame and scapegoat renewable energy for the stress to the grid, when it was largely due to with two gas plants having gone down and her own government’s mismanagement. Under Jason Kenney & Danielle Smith’s watch, electricity rates have quadrupled since 2019. Smith’s unfair and ideological treatment of renewables is making things worse.

‍Pierre Poilievre and his Conservative Alberta caucus need to stop hiding and denounce this job-killing policy. While they claim to advocate for Canadian jobs and investment, they continue to bog down C-49, a bill that would unleash Atlantic Canada’s potential for offshore wind. They voted against our investment tax credits that will get major clean energy projects off the ground, and they vow to cancel job-creating energy projects in Alberta, financed by the Canada Infrastructure Bank.

‍They both need to start putting our economic wellbeing over toxic and partisan ideology. They need to get serious about building a clean and affordable energy economy for Albertans.

  • 0067 PFM SaskWorks Payroll Investment Plan
    0067 PFM SaskWorks Payroll Investment Plan
  • 0066 WBPC Promo video 30 seconds
    0066 WBPC Promo video 30 seconds
  • 0065 Anova Resources field operator Oxbow
    0065 Anova Resources field operator Oxbow
  • 0064 Estevan OTS
    0064 Estevan OTS
  • 0063 Turnbull Excavating hiring crusher
    0063 Turnbull Excavating hiring crusher
  • 0062 TED_EPAC_Technology_30
    0062 TED_EPAC_Technology_30
  • 0061 SIMSA 2024 For Sask Buy Sask
    0061 SIMSA 2024 For Sask Buy Sask
  • 0060 Arizona Lithium Lease building
    0060 Arizona Lithium Lease building
  • 0059 Southeast College Heavy Equipment Operator
    0059 Southeast College Heavy Equipment Operator
  • 0058 Royal Helium Steveville opens anonymous rocket
    0058 Royal Helium Steveville opens anonymous rocket
  • 0055 Smart Power Be Smart with your Power office
    0055 Smart Power Be Smart with your Power office
  • 0053 Kingston Midstream Westspur Alameda Click Before You Dig large text
    0053 Kingston Midstream Westspur Alameda Click Before You Dig large text
  • 0052 Predator Inspections
    0052 Predator Inspections
  • 0051 JML Hiring Pumpjack assembly
    0051 JML Hiring Pumpjack assembly
  • 0049 Scotsburn Dental soft guitar
    0049 Scotsburn Dental soft guitar
  • 0046 City of Estevan This is Estevan
    0046 City of Estevan This is Estevan
  • 0041 DEEP Since 2018 now we are going to build
    0041 DEEP Since 2018 now we are going to build
  • 0032 IWS Summer hiring rock trailer music
  • 0022 Grimes winter hiring
  • 0021 OSY Rentals S8 Promo
  • 0018 IWS Hiring Royal Summer
  • 0015 Latus Viro
    0015 Latus Viro
  • 0013 Panther Drilling PO ad 03 top drive rigs
  • 0011
  • 0006 JK Junior
  • 0002 gilliss casing services
    0002 gilliss casing services
  • 9002 Pipeline Online 30 sec EBEX
    9002 Pipeline Online 30 sec EBEX
  • 9001

 

“Uncertainty bomb”

Evan Pivnick, clean energy program manager at Clean Energy Canada, a climate and energy think tank housed at the Centre for Dialogue at Simon Fraser University, said in an emailed statement:

Today’s announcement has dropped an uncertainty bomb on renewable project investors and developers in Alberta. Until last year, the province was the undisputed renewables capital of Canada, securing over $4.7 billion in new investment and bringing thousands of new jobs to the province since 2019. Now Alberta is undermining its own success, making it one of the only jurisdictions in the world trying to frustrate the deployment of cheap, clean, renewable electricity.

This new announcement follows a seven-month moratorium on new development that has already affected 118 projects worth $33 billion of investment, impacting 24,000 job-years and hundreds of millions in local taxes and leases.

Now the costly pause has ended, the new path forward leaves even more unanswered questions for the industry. Indeed, there are major concerns that rules, like those concerning “viewscapes,” will be arbitrarily applied. Meanwhile, initial analysis suggests that a requirement for the proposed 35 kilometre buffer around protected areas may prohibit wind development in 76% of southern Alberta.

Damage to Alberta’s economy aside, residents should also be concerned about the impacts this may have on their electricity bills. Research has suggested that the decarbonization of Alberta’s electricity grid could save more than $600 per household in overall electricity costs, in no small part because of the cheaper costs to generate electricity from wind and solar. Albertans have paid the highest electricity costs of any province in the country over the past two years.

At the end of the day, it is Albertans that stand to lose the most from the new rules, with a less competitive energy market, and the potential loss of jobs and investment in its once-booming renewables industry.

  • 0067 PFM SaskWorks Payroll Investment Plan
    0067 PFM SaskWorks Payroll Investment Plan
  • 0066 WBPC Promo video 30 seconds
    0066 WBPC Promo video 30 seconds
  • 0065 Anova Resources field operator Oxbow
    0065 Anova Resources field operator Oxbow
  • 0064 Estevan OTS
    0064 Estevan OTS
  • 0063 Turnbull Excavating hiring crusher
    0063 Turnbull Excavating hiring crusher
  • 0062 TED_EPAC_Technology_30
    0062 TED_EPAC_Technology_30
  • 0061 SIMSA 2024 For Sask Buy Sask
    0061 SIMSA 2024 For Sask Buy Sask
  • 0060 Arizona Lithium Lease building
    0060 Arizona Lithium Lease building
  • 0059 Southeast College Heavy Equipment Operator
    0059 Southeast College Heavy Equipment Operator
  • 0058 Royal Helium Steveville opens anonymous rocket
    0058 Royal Helium Steveville opens anonymous rocket
  • 0055 Smart Power Be Smart with your Power office
    0055 Smart Power Be Smart with your Power office
  • 0053 Kingston Midstream Westspur Alameda Click Before You Dig large text
    0053 Kingston Midstream Westspur Alameda Click Before You Dig large text
  • 0052 Predator Inspections
    0052 Predator Inspections
  • 0051 JML Hiring Pumpjack assembly
    0051 JML Hiring Pumpjack assembly
  • 0049 Scotsburn Dental soft guitar
    0049 Scotsburn Dental soft guitar
  • 0046 City of Estevan This is Estevan
    0046 City of Estevan This is Estevan
  • 0041 DEEP Since 2018 now we are going to build
    0041 DEEP Since 2018 now we are going to build
  • 0032 IWS Summer hiring rock trailer music
  • 0022 Grimes winter hiring
  • 0021 OSY Rentals S8 Promo
  • 0018 IWS Hiring Royal Summer
  • 0015 Latus Viro
    0015 Latus Viro
  • 0013 Panther Drilling PO ad 03 top drive rigs
  • 0011
  • 0006 JK Junior
  • 0002 gilliss casing services
    0002 gilliss casing services
  • 9002 Pipeline Online 30 sec EBEX
    9002 Pipeline Online 30 sec EBEX
  • 9001

 

How many turbines are there already?

As of Feb. 28, there are 1,519 wind turbines across 45 wind farms, according to Dispatcho.app.

Alberta Wind Turbines

28-Feb-24
ASSET Nameplate Megawatts Turbines
Ardenville Wind (ARD1)* 68 23
BUL1 Bull Creek (BUL1)* 13 8
BUL2 Bull Creek (BUL2)* 16 9
Blackspring Ridge (BSR1)* 300 166
Blue Trail Wind (BTR1)* 66 22
Buffalo Atlee 1 (BFL1)* 18 4
Buffalo Atlee 2 (BFL2)* 16 3
Buffalo Atlee 3 (BFL3)* 18 4
Buffalo Atlee 4 (BFL4)* 10 2
Castle River #1 (CR1)* 39 60
Castle Rock Ridge 2 (CRR2)* 29 7
Castle Rock Wind Farm (CRR1)* 77 33
Cowley Ridge (CRE3)* 20 15
Cypress 1 (CYP1)* 196 39
Cypress 2 (CYP2)* 46 9
Enmax Taber (TAB1)* 81 37
Forty Mile Granlea (FMG1)* 200 45
Garden Plain (GDP1)* 130 26
Ghost Pine (NEP1)* 82 54
Grizzly Bear (GRZ1)* 152 34
Halkirk Wind Power Facility (HAL1)* 150 83
Hand Hills (HHW1)* 145 29
Hilda Wind (HLD1)* 100 20
Jenner 1 (JNR1)* 122 22
Jenner 2 (JNR2)* 71 13
Jenner 3 (JNR3)* 109 20
Kettles Hill (KHW1)* 63 35
Lanfine Wind (LAN1)* 151 35
McBride Lake Windfarm (AKE1)* 73 114
Oldman 2 Wind Farm 1 (OWF1)* 46 20
Paintearth Wind Project (PAW1)* 198 38
Rattlesnake Ridge Wind (RTL1)* 130 26
Riverview (RIV1)* 105 28
Sharp Hill Wind (SHH1)* 297 45
Soderglen Wind (GWW1)* 71 47
Stirling Wind (SWP1)* 113 23
Summerview 1 (IEW1)* 66 39
Summerview 2 (IEW2)* 66 22
Suncor Chin Chute (SCR3)* 30 20
Suncor Magrath (SCR2)* 30 20
Wheatland Wind (WHE1)* 120 24
Whitla 1 (WHT1)* 202 56
Whitla 2 (WHT2)* 151 42
Windrise (WRW1)* 207 43
Wintering Hills (SCR4)* 88 55
Total 4481 MW 1519 turbines

 

  • 0067 PFM SaskWorks Payroll Investment Plan
    0067 PFM SaskWorks Payroll Investment Plan
  • 0066 WBPC Promo video 30 seconds
    0066 WBPC Promo video 30 seconds
  • 0065 Anova Resources field operator Oxbow
    0065 Anova Resources field operator Oxbow
  • 0064 Estevan OTS
    0064 Estevan OTS
  • 0063 Turnbull Excavating hiring crusher
    0063 Turnbull Excavating hiring crusher
  • 0062 TED_EPAC_Technology_30
    0062 TED_EPAC_Technology_30
  • 0061 SIMSA 2024 For Sask Buy Sask
    0061 SIMSA 2024 For Sask Buy Sask
  • 0060 Arizona Lithium Lease building
    0060 Arizona Lithium Lease building
  • 0059 Southeast College Heavy Equipment Operator
    0059 Southeast College Heavy Equipment Operator
  • 0058 Royal Helium Steveville opens anonymous rocket
    0058 Royal Helium Steveville opens anonymous rocket
  • 0055 Smart Power Be Smart with your Power office
    0055 Smart Power Be Smart with your Power office
  • 0053 Kingston Midstream Westspur Alameda Click Before You Dig large text
    0053 Kingston Midstream Westspur Alameda Click Before You Dig large text
  • 0052 Predator Inspections
    0052 Predator Inspections
  • 0051 JML Hiring Pumpjack assembly
    0051 JML Hiring Pumpjack assembly
  • 0049 Scotsburn Dental soft guitar
    0049 Scotsburn Dental soft guitar
  • 0046 City of Estevan This is Estevan
    0046 City of Estevan This is Estevan
  • 0041 DEEP Since 2018 now we are going to build
    0041 DEEP Since 2018 now we are going to build
  • 0032 IWS Summer hiring rock trailer music
  • 0022 Grimes winter hiring
  • 0021 OSY Rentals S8 Promo
  • 0018 IWS Hiring Royal Summer
  • 0015 Latus Viro
    0015 Latus Viro
  • 0013 Panther Drilling PO ad 03 top drive rigs
  • 0011
  • 0006 JK Junior
  • 0002 gilliss casing services
    0002 gilliss casing services
  • 9002 Pipeline Online 30 sec EBEX
    9002 Pipeline Online 30 sec EBEX
  • 9001

 

Two days before Alberta is to lift its renewables pause, wind output falls to zero