Yesterday, WaterPower Canada’s Interim President Patrick Bateman appeared before the House of Commons Standing Committee on Finance for its first pre-budget consultation meeting in advance of Budget 2021. The Committee had invited submissions and testimony on measures the federal government could take to restart the Canadian economy, as it recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic. The meeting took place one day after the tabling of the Government of Canada’s Fall Economic Statement which acknowledged an important role for electricity generation, transmission and storage, and the electrification of end-uses primarily fuelled today by fossil fuels including in transportation, for greenhouse gas emissions reductions and economic growth.
“Our Members and their workforce have overseen the reliable operations of more than 500 waterpower generation stations throughout the pandemic. These continue to power critical services such as hospitals, communication networks, and food supply chains across the nation” said Patrick Bateman, Interim President, WaterPower Canada. “Once the greatest danger of this crisis has passed, the economy will need a serious boost. That must accomplish two things: getting Canadians back to work; and addressing the climate crisis. Demand growth from electrification, combined with stringent and stable long-term climate policy, is critical for our sector to maximize our investments in the coming years, and to help power Canada’s recovery”.
Summary of Recommendations (read the brief in full):
1. That the federal government continue its national and global leadership in designing and implementing strong measures for decarbonization of Canada’s electricity supply:
- remain committed to striving toward 90% non-emitting electricity by 2030; and commit to achieving 100% non-emitting electricity before 2050.
- set legally-binding five-year emissions-reduction milestones towards economy-wide net-zero emissions by 2050.
- continue to support provincial and territorial discussions that can accelerate the adoption of waterpower projects of all types to help decarbonize emission-intensive regions.
2. That the federal government continue its national and global leadership in designing and implementing strong measures for fuel-switching from fossil fuels to clean and renewable electricity in transport, industry and buildings (“electrification”):
- create an electrification strategy for electricity to become Canada’s single largest energy source by 2050.
- implement the Clean Fuel Standard.
- implement a legislated Zero-Emissions Vehicle (ZEV) mandate; and maintain incentives for the adoption of electric vehicles, and funding for electric vehicle charging infrastructure.
3. That the government ensures that federal legislation does not introduce any undue or overly burdensome constraints on waterpower producers, so that the regulatory environment provides compliance certainty and regulatory efficiency for the continued operation of existing waterpower generation stations, and does not impede investments in existing or new hydropower facilities. In order to do so, the federal government should:
- develop and/or amend as necessary, regulations and policies under the recently modified Fisheries Act and Canadian Navigable Waters Act to ensure that all existing waterpower facilities can continue to operate without undue constraints that were not foreseeable at the time of construction, and so that they can be maintained or refurbished in a timely and cost-effective manner.
- ensure that departments that are responsible for the implementation of the Fisheries Act, the Canadian Navigable Waters Act, and the Impact Assessment Act are provided with the human and financial resources necessary to promptly and efficiently deal with all applications for project reviews, authorizations and permits.