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e-2693 (Environment)

E-petition
Initiated by Craig Teneycke from Vancouver, British Columbia

Original language of petition: English

Petition to the House of Commons in Parliament assembled

Whereas:
  • Canada will be able to transition away from a petroleum-based economy at a faster rate if a robust and efficient cross-country interconnected electrical grid is adopted;
  • New and diverse electrical enterprises, such as hyperloop transportation systems, and electric vehicles, will be empowered and embraced as more of those enterprises interact with the electrical infrastructure created to support them;
  • Canada interconnecting electrical grids from one end of the country to the other, as well as, adopting the transmission of emissions-free or net-zero power into electrical storage systems will move and store clean electricity throughout Canada;
  • Electrical generation and storage grids will allow individuals to contribute excess power, above what they need, to the network;
  • Solar panels, concentrating solar power, Stirling engines, small hydro turbines, and tidal power are all examples of power generation technologies that already exist and support emissions-free or net-zero power creation; and
  • Numerous electricity storage systems exist already, such as pumped hydroelectric storage systems, compressed air energy storage, molten salt thermal storage, redox flow batteries, conventional rechargeable batteries, non-lithium batteries, lithium batteries, thermal storage, and flywheels.
We, the undersigned, citizens of Canada, call upon the House of Commons in Parliament assembled to:
1. Research, fund, and support the creation of an interconnected national power grid strategy, which will facilitate additional electrical creation and storage projects; and
2. Embrace carbon-free electrical power generation, power storage, and power transportation systems, which will allow Canada to reduce greenhouse gas significantly.

Response by the Minister of Natural Resources

Signed by (Minister or Parliamentary Secretary): Mr. Paul Lefebvre

The Government of Canada has put two objectives at the heart of its agenda since 2015: a clean environment and a strong economy. The government, therefore, agrees with petitioners who believe that a clean growth energy transformation is key to meeting Canada’s Paris commitments.

This goal was central to the 2016 Pan-Canadian Framework on Clean Growth and Climate Change (PCF). Developed by federal, provincial and territorial governments in consultation with Indigenous peoples, the framework includes three key objectives related to electricity.

First, Canada must increase the amount of electricity generated from renewable and low-emitting sources. Second, it must find new ways to get clean power to regions that most need it, including diesel-reliant remote Indigenous communities. Third, the country’s electricity systems must be modernized through innovation in areas such as storage.

The Generation Energy dialogue in 2017 reinforced this approach. Canadians made it clear what they want. A clean, safe, reliable, accessible and affordable electricity system supported by a cross-country clean electricity grid. They also want more investments in all clean energy sources, including renewables. And they support a drive toward zero-carbon transportation. Other priorities include investments to decarbonize fossil fuel production, strengthen partnerships with Indigenous communities, and expand skills training and education programs.

On December 11, 2020, the Government of Canada unveiled its plan to reach these objectives. A Healthy Environment and a Healthy Economy builds on the PCF. And like the PCF, this plan is not an endpoint. The transition to a cleaner, more prosperous economy needs to be both an immediate priority and a sustained effort over the decades ahead. Canada must continue to innovate. And it must add value to existing measures. This is how Canada can exceed its 2030 Paris target and reach net-zero in 2050.

Canada, fortunately, is building on a solid foundation. It already has one of the cleanest electricity systems in the world. More than 80 percent of electricity production comes from non-emitting sources. That is higher than any other G7 country. Yet while electricity emissions are going down, more work is necessary to meet international commitments.

The petition points to the direction the government must take. It stresses, for instance, the need to connect communities across Canada with clean power. This featured prominently in the PCF, the 2020 Fall Economic Statement, and A Healthy Environment and a Healthy Economy. To get closer to that goal, the Government of Canada is collaborating with provincial governments and their respective utilities. Together, they are identifying opportunities for strategic investments. This work is happening through the Regional Electricity Cooperation and Strategic Infrastructure process. As part of this effort, the federal government allocated $2.5 million to fund studies and dialogues aimed at identifying promising green infrastructure projects.

Here are some examples of recent progress:

  • The Government of Canada is collaborating with the Atlantic provinces on the “Maritime Link” project. The goal is to send electricity from the Muskrat Falls Hydro Generating Station, in Newfoundland and Labrador, to Nova Scotia through two undersea cables laid in 2017. This project has created the first link between Newfoundland and Labrador and the North American grid. The project is expected to result in the retirement of one of Nova Scotia’s eight coal-fired generating units.
  • The Atlantic provinces and the federal government agreed in March of 2019 to develop a Clean Power Roadmap for Atlantic Canada. This initiative outlines a vision for how jurisdictions can collaborate over the coming decades to build a clean power superhighway -- or “Atlantic Loop.” The government’s commitment to the Atlantic Loop was reaffirmed in the September 2020 Speech from the Throne.
  • Prime Minister Trudeau and B.C. Premier Horgan signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) in the summer of 2019 on the electrification of the natural gas and liquefied natural gas sectors. The MOU commits the two governments to work together to advance the electrification of B.C.’s natural gas production and LNG industries, including through long-distance transmission projects.
  • Through Infrastructure Canada’s Integrated Bilateral Agreements, the federal government announced in March of 2020 that it would contribute $18.7 million to the Birtle-Tantallon transmission line. This will bring Manitoba’s abundant hydroelectricity to Saskatchewan.
  • And in July of 2020, the government pledged $21.25 million toward the construction of a new transmission line in Prince Edward Island. This will support the integration of future wind-powered generation on the island. 

The petition also stressed the need to generate more electricity from renewable and low-emitting sources. This is another Government of Canada priority. To that end, Natural Resources Canada has taken a number of steps to facilitate this shift.

The Emerging Renewable Power Program, for instance, provides up to $200 million to expand the portfolio of commercially-viable renewable energy sources. So far, this program has helped fund geothermal projects in Alberta and Saskatchewan. It has also supported a bi-facial solar project in Alberta and a tidal energy project in Nova Scotia. More announcements are pending.

As well, Canada is funding 21 demonstration projects in eight provinces and one territory. These will showcase promising, near-commercial smart grid technologies and integrated smart grid systems. Natural Resources Canada also continues to engage with stakeholders through the annual Smart Grid Symposium. Discussions focus on what energy transformation means for the country’s electricity grids and electricity customers. Talks also delve into how federal programs can support innovation and accelerate the deployment of solutions to enable grid modernization and the broader energy sector transformation.

Most recently, A Healthy Environment and a Healthy Economy included an additional $964 million over four years to accelerate the transition. This funding will help advance smart renewable energy and grid modernization projects. This includes support to increase renewable power generation capacity in areas such as wind and solar. The funding will also accelerate the deployment of grid modernization technologies.

The Government of Canada is also supporting the emerging Small Modular Reactor (SMR) sector. In 2018, Natural Resources Canada launched the SMR Roadmap process. The goal was to engage stakeholders on priorities and challenges related to the possible development and deployment of SMRs in Canada. The Government of Canada sees SMRs as an innovative new tool with the potential to reduce global emissions while providing clean, non-emitting electricity and heat. The emerging SMR sector also has the potential to create more economic opportunities and well-paid jobs.

Natural Resources Canada facilitated and fostered many SMR discussions across diverse stakeholder groups. Those consulted included a number of non-nuclear sector industry associations involved in areas like hydro, wind, solar, hydrogen, mining, and oil sands. The department also reached out to over 100 Indigenous communities and representatives, as well as civil society groups. Among them: the labour sector, women in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math), youth organizations, science and education groups, think tanks, and environmental groups. This work led to the release of the SMR Action Plan on December 18, 2020, which laid out next steps to advance this promising technology.

Collectively, the activities described above represent the Government of Canada’s concrete steps to implement the Pan-Canadian Framework. They are also just some of the highlights of a broader effort. In fact, 64 federal policies, programs and investments form the foundation of the strengthened climate plan announced in December 2020. As noted in A Healthy Environment and a Healthy Economy, this plan will help the government create over one million jobs in order to restore employment to pre-pandemic levels. And climate action will be the “cornerstone” of this effort.

Open for signature
June 23, 2020, at 4:03 p.m. (EDT)
Closed for signature
September 21, 2020, at 4:03 p.m. (EDT)
Presented to the House of Commons
Elizabeth May (Saanich—Gulf Islands)
November 25, 2020 (Petition No. 432-00294)
Government response tabled
January 25, 2021
Photo - Elizabeth May
Saanich—Gulf Islands
Green Party Caucus
British Columbia
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