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Alberta Premier Danielle Smith has invoked a controversial piece of legislation to protect the citizens of the oil-rich province from the federal government’s Clean Electricity Regulations.
This is the first time the Sovereignty Act has been invoked in Alberta. The move involved Premier Smith tabling a resolution at the Alberta legislature that instructed provincial agencies such as the Alberta Electric System Operator to ignore the Clean Electricity Regulations when they came into effect, "to the extent legally permissible," CBC reported.
The Sovereignty Act was enacted last year and its purpose was exactly the purpose it was used this week by the government: to protect the province from federal laws that the provincial government considers unconstitutional.
According to Premier Smith, the Clean Electricity Regulations will lead to energy shortages and grid instability. According to federal environment minister Steven Guilbeault, there was no legal basis for the Albertan government’s actions.
The practical implementation of the Sovereignty Act envisages the setting up of a government-owned power generation company, to step in if private utilities, due to the stipulations of the Clean Electricity Regulations, cannot generate enough power for the province.
The Clean Energy Regulations that the Trudeau government approved earlier this year, aim to make Canada’s grid net-zero by 2035 by boosting the share of low-carbon generating capacity such as wind and solar at the expense of natural gas and coal. While most of Canada already generates power from low-carbon sources, notably hydropower and nuclear, Alberta is an exception and, as such, a target for the CERs.
“Alberta’s government will not put Albertans and their businesses at risk of freezing in the dark at -30C due to the federal government’s proposed unaffordable, unreliable and unconstitutional Clean Electricity Regulations (CERs),” Premier Smith told media.
She added that the provincial government had been forced to resort to the Sovereignty Act by federal minister Guilbeault who has taken to threatening provincial leaders with prosecution and imprisonment for refusing to implement the CERs.
By Irina Slav for Oilprice.com
Irina is a writer for Oilprice.com with over a decade of experience writing on the oil and gas industry.