Q&A: As Alberta power sector transforms, Danielle Smith weighs in on business's future

Herald enterprise columnist Chris Varcoe spoke with UCP Chief Danielle Smith this week on her celebration’s power insurance policies within the run-up to Monday’s provincial election

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Alberta’s power sector is reworking, with oil and gasoline corporations growing manufacturing whereas making ready for a net-zero future. On the similar time, proponents of latest infrastructure, renewable tasks and LNG need to meet the rising urge for food for power.

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Herald enterprise columnist Chris Varcoe spoke with UCP Chief Danielle Smith this week on her celebration’s power insurance policies within the run-up to Monday’s provincial election. (An interview on power with NDP Chief Rachel Notley will seem Friday.)

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What follows is an edited and abbreviated transcript of the dialog with Smith.

Q: Does your celebration count on to see oil and gasoline manufacturing develop over the subsequent 4 years and, when you’re elected, how will you particularly accomplish that?

Smith: The reply is sure, on not solely standard oil but additionally pure gasoline, in addition to bitumen. There are a couple of causes for my confidence. One is it seems to be just like the Trans Mountain pipeline, properly over funds, goes to be scheduled for completion within the first quarter of 2024.

We additionally will see the completion of the Coastal GasLink (pipeline), in addition to it seems to be like at the very least a few further (LNG) tasks.

Now we have the Pathways (Alliance oilsands) challenge, which I believe having set a really aggressive goal for internet zero by 2050 — and having a significant plan to get there — if we will get our tax credit score and funding framework aligned with the federal authorities . . . that may enable for them to proceed producing.

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Q: Can we enhance manufacturing over the subsequent 4 years and on the similar time scale back emissions?

Smith: Sure, we will. We will enhance manufacturing and there could also be an extended time horizon for decreasing emissions, let’s be affordable about that. As a result of I believe the true problem that we’re dealing with with Ottawa, and why we have now to win this struggle, is that we’re in alignment with their goal of carbon neutrality by 2050.

We put ahead a plan for emissions discount and power improvement simply earlier than the (election) affirming that we’re in sync with that concentrate on . . . If we have now an inexpensive time-frame, I consider something is feasible with innovation.

The issue comes once we’ve acquired a federal authorities that wishes to attain unrealistic targets too shortly, with out the time-frame and with out the expertise to do it. And their proposal of a 42 per cent discount in emissions in oil and gasoline by 2030 . . . they’re not achievable with out basically shutting in manufacturing.

Q: We’ve talked on this province over the previous decade about getting extra oil and gasoline pipelines constructed. However was it a mistake for the provincial authorities to put money into the Keystone XL pipeline?

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Smith: I don’t suppose it was a mistake. I do know it didn’t end up the way in which we needed it to. However, sadly, a lot uncertainty has been created on this business.

A part of the rationale the federal authorities took over from Kinder Morgan to construct the Trans Mountain pipeline is the corporate misplaced confidence within the regulatory processes . . . I believe as a result of that occurred, it created virtually an expectation that having a authorities backer is critical to maneuver infrastructure alongside. That, to me, is what’s actually unlucky.

I believe there’s nonetheless an lively lawsuit that’s going to happen (over the province’s $1.3-billion misplaced funding in Keystone XL).

Q: Carbon seize, utilization and storage (CCUS) is touted by oilsands operators as essential to decarbo
nize. They’ve additionally stated extra help is required from federal and provincial governments to be aggressive with the U.S. Inflation Discount Act. If elected, what’s going to the UCP do to safe large-scale investments in CCUS?

Smith: Now we have extra {dollars} coming in from the TIER (Expertise Innovation and Emissions Discount) program that will probably be devoted towards coping with emissions discount.

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Our present carbon pricing mannequin for industrial (emitters) has corporations pay right into a fund after which these funds go to Emissions Reductions Alberta. And so they’ve been investing in a wide range of totally different improvements in order that we have now extra {dollars} which can be going to go towards that.

And one of many first issues we needed to do is to broaden out the Alberta Petrochemical Incentive Program (APIP) to incorporate all carbon seize utilization and storage infrastructure, as a result of there are a lot of historic corporations that aren’t in a position to entry that tax credit score.

Q: APIP offers a grant value 12 per cent of capital prices to builders as soon as a petrochemical challenge begins working. Your marketing campaign platforms talked about creating a program just like APIP for extra capital-intensive applied sciences. How would you alter the APIP program?

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Smith: We’d need it to use to all carbon seize utilization and storage infrastructure. And that’s for not simply new tasks, however legacy tasks — in addition to not simply on-site tasks, but additionally the pipelines and storage and infrastructure main as much as it.

We need to guarantee that it applies to extra funding and extra industries round particularly carbon seize utilization and storage.

Q: So it might not simply be the oilsands and petrochemical services — all industries could be eligible to get a grant in the event that they invested in CCUS?

Smith: Sure. That’s the intention.

Q: What would the price be to broaden APIP to cowl CCUS?

Smith: Properly, the great half about the way in which APIP is structured is that it’s paid out on the finish, as soon as the power is in manufacturing. And so we nonetheless have a bit of labor to do, as a result of we have now to see if the federal authorities will co-ordinate with us, so we have now the will and the intention to try this.

We intend to additionally use the TIER funding that we’re already receiving and, as I perceive it, that’s $500 million a yr, over nonetheless a few years, and I believe it’s an growing quantity.

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So that provides you a spread of the pot of cash that we’re taking a look at . . . It doesn’t come out of basic tax revenues.

Q: If elected, would you look to maneuver forward with the $100-million pilot program for the legal responsibility administration incentive program, beforehand generally known as R-Star?

Smith: I advocated for some form of legal responsibility program as a result of I’ve been very involved for a very long time about inactive wells, which have been inactive for many years and nobody cleans them up. After which they get packaged up and simply handed ahead.

The issue is when you’ve gotten a bunch of inactive wells, if an organization falls into misery and finally ends up going below, then all of these wells find yourself within the Orphan Properly Fund. I used to be watching this play out during the last 10 years and it was unacceptable.

There’s been a few issues which have occurred within the meantime. One is that we now have a coverage that forces corporations . . . to spend three per cent of their legal responsibility down annually. It’s about $760 million that they’ll be spending of their very own cash (in 2024) to scrub up these liabilities and it’ll carry on growing yr after yr.

So, we’re going to observe that, guarantee that it’s working. We’ll have a greater thought, after all, as we get to the top of the yr, which corporations are in compliance.

Q: Can Alberta’s electrical energy system get to net-zero emissions by 2035?

Smith: No, it will probably’t . . . If we exit to the 2050 time scale, I believe that’s way more achievable. However to be carbon impartial by 2035, it’s not achievable. And it’ll trigger huge hurt to our enterprise funding neighborhood and big hurt to these, particularly these on mounted earnings.

cvarcoe@postmedia.com

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