Electricity is indispensable to Canadian’s quality of life and to the competitiveness of our economy. Clean, reliable and affordable power is central to Canada meeting its Paris climate change targets and growing the economy.
Canada’s electricity sector is well positioned to do this. More than 80% of electricity in Canada is already non-emitting. Since 2005, our sector has reduced greenhouse gas emissions by 30% and is on track to reduce a further 30% by 2020.
To meet the needs of the future, we’ll need to make substantial investments in new infrastructure, including generation and transmission facilities. In fact, the Conference Board of Canada estimates that $1.7 trillion in investments will be needed to both update existing infrastructure and prepare for climate change mitigation and electrification.
To do so, we need a clear and predictable regulatory framework. Delays and uncertainty will only add to the cost of clean energy. In their current form, Bill C-69 and Bill C-68 enhance these challenges.
Bill C-69 (Impact Assessment Act)
CEA supports the intention of Bill C-69 to improve the environmental and regulatory system for resource and infrastructure projects. However, without reasonable and constructive amendments, the legislation may discourage investments in projects that would deliver important economic and environmental benefits to Canada.
The lack of predictable timelines, cost implications and clarity of regulation within C-69 could impact Canada’s competitiveness. CEA has long advocated that the Impact Assessment Act should focus on large scale, nationally significant projects that are within federal jurisdiction.
To address this, Bill C-69 must:
- Establish greater predictability, clarity and feasibility of the scope of application and timelines for review;
- Foster inter-jurisdictional collaboration;
- Integrate economic, environmental and Indigenous rights considerations in review and decision making;
- Ensure that the Minister’s power to designate projects that are not on the Designated Project List be based on publicly available criteria and is used only in unique and exceptional circumstances;
- Contain specific and unambiguous guidance for implementing the increased Indigenous related provisions as they relate to infrastructure project reviews;
- Ensure that there are limited grounds for appeal once project approval is delivered so that proponents know they can proceed with projects in confidence.
The electricity sector is looking ahead to an unparalleled era of innovation and investment. Bill C-69 is intended to provide more certainty – one review, one decision. As written, the legislation adds project risk and uncertainty that will make these investments more challenging. This is not what the government intended.
Documents and links
Bill C-68 (Fisheries Act)
CEA supports Bill C-68’s intentions to restore lost protections, ensure long term sustainability to marine resources and provide better certainty for industry. However, as drafted, it would dramatically complicate the production of hydropower, the source of 62% of Canada’s clean and renewable electricity production.
There is a need for amendments that will remove the focus on individual-level fish impacts and on duplicative federal environmental flow requirements. Hydroelectricity generators in Canada have a strong track record of responsible environmental performance. C-68 will add substantial burden without a corresponding environmental benefit or need.
CEA is concerned that Bill C-68, passed in its current form, will discourage new investment in hydropower and vastly compromise Canada’s ability to meet its climate change and clean energy goals. To address this, the Senate should:
- Revise the definition of “fish habitat” to exclude flow;
- The purpose of the Act should explicitly be focused on fish population effects rather than individual fish level effects;
- Require the Department of Fisheries and Oceans be notified about fish deaths in cases where the deaths are in volumes that will actually affect the population. Currently, the act requires reporting of even individual fish deaths; and
- Remove Section 35.1 (1) which indicates that no person shall carry on any work, undertaking or activity that is part of a designated project unless in accordance with a permit as this section is unnecessary and will add significantly to timing delays and administrative burden.