Canadian Wind Energy Association: Alberta’s abundant wind resource is putting a whole new spin on energy development

Canadian-Wind-Energy-Association-(CanWEA)

For the better part of a century, Alberta’s natural-resource endowment has created wealth, driven GDP, and financed public services that underpin the province’s enviable quality of life. And while I’m of course referring to the resources found underfoot, the province is presently writing a new and different chapter in its energy prosperity story—one in which the sky is quite literally the limit.

Wind energy has been a fixture of Alberta’s landscape since the first ranchers harnessed the breeze to pump water up from deep aquifers. Alberta is currently Canada’s third biggest wind market, following Ontario and Quebec, and it’s about to get a lot bigger. In the coming years, a wave of wind development will bring literally billions in investment to the province, as developers in partnership with landowners and communities build a network of new
facilities to reliably, responsibly, and cost-effectively deliver the clean power that the province needs.

The development companies, many of them members of the Canadian Wind Energy Association (CanWEA), will further diversify the province’s energy mix. They will inject fresh life in rural economies. But while Albertans are no strangers to energy development, many of them are of course wondering: What will this new era mean for Alberta? What will wind energy contribute?

To answer that, it helps to know a bit of the back story.

Alberta may not yet be known for its wind resource, but it is actually one of the finest in the country. In fact, the wind industry traces its Canadian roots to the province. Turbines began turning at one of Canada’s very first commercial wind farms, Cowley Ridge, about an hour west of Lethbridge, back in 1993. And though that facility was decommissioned a couple of years ago, wind farms now provide a respectable 1,479 MW worth of generating capacity in the province—and produce enough power to light up more than 600,000 homes.

As I’ve hinted above, the potential for more has always been there. Now, however, a mix of technological evolution and new policy frameworks is allowing Alberta to capitalize on this latent opportunity. In May 2016, the provincial government decided the time was right to phase out coal power. The Government of Alberta set a goal that by the year 2030, renewable electricity will provide 30 per cent of all electricity used by Albertans.

Having set an ambitious target, the government sprung into action.

It immediately launched a highly competitive power auction, inviting bids from private developers to build 400 MW of new renewable energy capacity in the province. Dozens of companies from across Canada and around the world participated, all vying for the chance to deliver clean and renewable power to Alberta’s grid. In the end, a trio of successful proponents—Edmonton-based Capital Power, EDP Renewables, and Enel Green Power Canada—will deliver 600 MW to customers via four wind farms.

But the real headline was the rock-bottom price. These proponents have signed contracts to deliver renewable energy at a weighted average price of CAD$37 per megawatt hour. The auction proved that wind is now the most cost effective choice for new electricity from any source in Canada, including natural gas.

How did that happen? Credit innovation. Turbines are getting bigger—and the taller the turbine, the longer you can make the blade, which means you can harvest more energy from the same site. Combine that with lightweight materials, big data, and systems that allow finer control and utilization of the resource, and the costs have fallen.

In November 2017, Lazard’s Levelized Cost of Energy Analysis found that between 2009 and 2017, the levelized unit energy cost of wind power in the United States dropped a stunning 67 per cent. That study, and the auction in Alberta, set to rest once and for all the myth that renewable energy will never compete with fossil fuels on price.

Knowing that the price is right, with the first auction done, the Province of Alberta began moving ahead with a second and third auction. The gavel will fall on both before the end of this year. In setting a strong goal—and following through—the government has captured the attention of the wind industry around the world.

And make no mistake, renewable energy is big business. According to Bloomberg New Energy Finance, last year investors moved CAD$421.3 billion into clean energy globally; wind projects attracted almost a third of that total, $135.4 billion.

Wind energy is truly a global industry; companies are constantly deciding where to allocate capital. In my view, Alberta has done an outstanding job signaling that it wants to be a priority destination for some of that investment. A report by the Delphi Group has crunched the numbers, and according to its estimates, delivering on the province’s “30 by 30” goal will bring investment in wind generation totalling $8.3 billion to the province. On the ground, by the year 2030 this will yield:

• $3.6 billion in local spending on project development and construction;
• $137 million in operations and maintenance spending in Alberta;
• 14,862-person- years of direct employment;
• $25.5 million in municipal property taxes and $13.5 million in land lease payments to Alberta landowners, as well as opportunities for local business.

Further, new innovations have resulted in turbines that are able to capture wind energy at lower speeds, which we expect will open up significant new areas of the province to development—including those along the border with Saskatchewan. Many rural communities are keen to see if they can capitalize on this opportunity.

From an oil-and- gas perspective, wind energy is perhaps a new way of looking at natural resources. But we need only to look south to see how the two industries can complement one another.

Robert Hornung, President of the Canadian Wind Energy Association (CanWEA)
Robert Hornung, President of the Canadian Wind Energy Association (CanWEA)

Texas, still the epicentre of the United States petroleum industry, now leads that nation in wind energy by a wide margin. It presently has an impressive 22,637 MW of installed wind energy capacity – more turbines and towers on the grid than the three runner-up states combined.

Around the world, wind has emerged as the technology of choice to deliver new low-cost and non-greenhouse gas emitting utility scale electricity. It delivers the best bang for the buck, and the “fuel” is renewable and free. Of all Canadian jurisdictions looking to capture the opportunities of this global boom, Alberta is now the most focused. Just as the province has long reaped the rewards of its natural resources, it can now responsibly and
reliably capture the benefits of the wind that has blown across the prairie for eons.

I’m excited to see my industry contribute to this new chapter in Alberta’s energy story

Robert Hornung has been President of the Canadian Wind Energy Association (CanWEA) since August 2003. He represents the interests of more than 200 companies who are Canada’s wind energy leaders – wind farm owners, operators, project developers, manufacturers and service providers; and a broad range of service providers to the industry. Robert also serves on the board of the Global Wind Energy Council.

www.canwea.ca

Alberta Veterinary Medical Association: Understanding Alberta’s veterinary landscape and the implications of Bill 31

Alberta-Veterinary-Medical-Association-(ABVMA)

The Alberta Veterinary Medical Association (ABVMA) is the professional regulatory organization (PRO) responsible for regulating the practice of veterinary medicine within the province of Alberta under the authority of the Veterinary Profession Act (VPA). The association has been in existence since the newly minted province of Alberta passed an Act Respecting Veterinarians in 1906, one of the first acts for the province. At the time, there were a handful of veterinarian members spread across the province, mostly involved in the livestock industry. Today, the association has grown to over 1,800 veterinarians, practicing all aspects of animal health and welfare including companion animal practice, food animal practice, public health, veterinary education and research. Our vision is “Healthy animals and people in a healthy environment.”

Over the last forty years, another group of veterinary professionals has evolved to join veterinarians in delivering animal health care within the province – registered veterinary technologists (RVTs). Starting as a two-year certificate course at Olds College in the late 1970s, the education of veterinary technologists has grown and is currently delivered from four technical colleges in Alberta, with close to 150 graduates each year. In 2010, the ABVMA began registering veterinary technologists as members of the association. An amendment to the VPA in 2016, and amendments to the General Regulation and Bylaws in 2017, allowed for full participation of technologists in the governance of the association. This virtually doubled our membership to our current level and gave technologists a voice that they previously lacked in the profession.

Veterinarians and RVTs work with all species of animals with most practices working with companion animals including horses, birds and reptiles. The second largest segment of practice are food producing animals such as beef and dairy cattle, swine, poultry, sheep and goats.

Many veterinary and other professional associations in Canada have separated the functions of their regulatory duties from those of providing support to the membership. Alberta has strived to maintain both under one roof. Our mandate is protection of the public, and core duties include registration and verification of member credentials, practice inspection and practice standards, and a process to accept complaints from the public. The association strongly believes that if we can keep our members healthy and current, we will provide a better product for the public, and we firmly believe that we have been successful. Our association is well regarded both within the profession, provincially and nationally.

The ABVMA has over 3,600 active veterinarians and technologists licensed to provide veterinary medical
services within the province. This number does not include non-practicing members that have left active
practice. There are approximately 545 veterinary practices in Alberta, and this number is growing
steadily. Each one of these practices also employs many lay staff such as practice managers,
receptionists, bookkeepers, assistants and kennel assistants.

Factors such as increasing minimum wages and changing employment standards have a direct effect on veterinary practices that operate as small businesses in Alberta. In December 2017, Bill 31 put extra scrutiny on the veterinary profession in Alberta. Bill 31 was passed by the Alberta Government in December 2017. The consumer protection legislation included amendments to the VPA regarding obtaining informed consent, fee disclosure and the advertising of fees. As the PRO for veterinary medicine in Alberta, the association has concerns with amendments that are already met within our current legislation and regulation. Despite these challenges, the association continues to foster a good working relationship with the Ministry of Labour that oversees all self-regulating professions in the province.

The influence of the veterinary profession extends further than the clinical care given to all species of animals. Veterinary professionals fulfill various roles in society. Veterinarians work within the provincial government in animal and human health, with the federal government in food safety and animal health, in the pharmaceutical industry, in education, research, regulation and even in the legislature.

Veterinarians and technologists working on companion animals are considered the second “family
doctor.” Recognition of the importance of the human-animal bond has had huge effects on the mental
and physical well-being of many people. Pets are now considered an integral part of the family, and
owners are demanding the best treatments possible for them.

Animal protein products eaten by consumers have been affected by a veterinary professional somewhere in its lifetime. Everything from eggs, cheese and milk to meat products have been produced through the professional cooperation of veterinarians and producers.

Veterinarians are also heavily involved in veterinary and medical research. At the University of Alberta, and the University of Calgary’s Faculty of Veterinary Medicine (UCVM), research on both animal and human disease is well established. The UCVM, though only being in existence a short time, has become one of the top schools in north America. It is also very unique in that it does not have a teaching hospital, but relies on a distributed veterinary learning community model to educate its students during their clinical years. This is the only model of its kind in Canada.

Despite experiencing strong growth within a thriving profession, there are still challenges and opportunities. One of the greatest challenges that we face is the education of enough veterinary professionals. Currently, there are 50 Alberta veterinary students graduating annually. The province could likely employ double that number each year. The number of veterinary technologists graduating each year could also easily double, and all be employed. Increased funding for veterinary education is essential. The Government of Alberta recently withdrew from the interprovincial funding agreement with the Western College of Veterinary Medicine, ending a partnership that has lasted more than 50 years. The ABVMA strongly believes increased funding for UCVM and entering back into the interprovincial agreement with WCVM are the best way to increase the pool of qualified graduating veterinarians in the decades to come. Changes to the way that antimicrobials are prescribed and dispensed in Canada will also lead to an amplified need for veterinary professionals. Heath Canada has called for increased veterinary oversight of antimicrobials to help curb the development of antimicrobial resistance. Veterinarians are the natural stewards for animal antimicrobial use to maintain effectiveness for future generations of both humans and animals.

Pet owners today expect the best for their pets. Procedures that were not feasible 20 years ago are possible today. Comparative research has led to new surgical and medical developments that have enhanced the lives of our patients, and enriched the lives of their owners, more rapidly than ever before. If a new or novel treatment is available, chances are great that you will be able to access it in Alberta. Advanced technologies and treatments also come at a cost. As small business owners, veterinary professionals must balance the cost of providing quality care with customer expectations along with a lack of publicly funded health care for animal and the financial pressures that go with pet ownership. Establishing a relationship with your veterinarian is the best place to start.

The veterinary profession is healthy and vital in Alberta. Regardless of what aspects of veterinary medicine is involved, the ABVMA will continue to play a role in ensuring that Albertans have access to quality veterinary services.

Darrell Dalton, DVM,
Registrar, Alberta Veterinary Medical Association

www.abvma.ca

Canadian Propane Association: How Canada and the world can benefit from the reliability of propane

Canadian-Propane-Association-(CPA)

While the government’s drive to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and different carbon trading or carbon tax regimes across the country are providing challenges for the energy industry, people here and around the world still need Canadian energy, even in a lower-carbon environment. And right now, propane is an investment opportunity and a gamechanger for consumers and for our country.

It may seem appropriate for governments to encourage consumers to move towards electrification and renewables, but we need to remind ourselves that not all electricity produced in Canada is without GHG emissions and not all electricity or renewable energy is yet affordable. And while it is imperative that we continue to lower our carbon impact, propane is part of the solution. It is a viable, reliable and ready-to- go solution for reducing GHG emissions, especially considering alternative energy sources can face a number of barriers including location, storage, high cost to produce and use, and intermittent supply.

The Canadian Propane Association is focused on key areas where propane can make an immediate and significant difference to lower our environmental footprint without the exponential infrastructure costs of other alternative fuels: rural, remote and Indigenous communities, transportation, and economic development.

Rural, Remote & Indigenous Energy Solutions

Easily transportable, safe and abundant, propane is well-positioned to reduce GHG emissions in the residential sector in rural and remote communities and in particular, where natural gas or clean electricity is not available, while also lowering energy costs for homeowners.

According to Statistics Canada, nine per cent of homeowners still use oil. Every 1,000 homes that convert from heating oil to propane will have the equivalent annual GHG reduction impact of removing 661 cars from the road. Clearly, governments need to support this transition to achieve their targets.

In northern Canada, Indigenous and remote communities face unique challenges in addressing their dependence on diesel and furnace oil. These communities experience local air and noise pollution, blackouts, supply issues and fuel spills. There are many who suggest that renewables are the solution to replace diesel. Propane can support this necessary change on a large scale in a practical and affordable manner and to a degree that will allow these communities to grow and foster economic development. Until technology is developed for long-term storage of solar or wind energy sources, for now, there will continue be a need for traditional but less carbon intense fuel sources such as propane, whether as a contributing or anchor source.

Transportation Sector

Propane can be a game changer for the transportation sector, Canada’s second largest GHG emitter. Auto propane is a cost-effective, globally-trusted and low-emission option with economic and environmental advantages. For businesses, solutions that are currently available, such as electric, natural gas and hydrogen, are often limited by a combination of range restrictions, power limitations and prohibitively expensive infrastructure.

Propane for vehicles is used in the private and public sectors throughout Canada, including by UPS, Canada Post, FedEx, New Westminster Police, Airways Transit, Air Canada Ground Services, school bus operators, including those in Calgary, Medicine Hat, Regina, Hamilton and Parry Sound, as well as many taxi and limousine operators.

Up-front cost is one of the biggest barriers for fleet operators considering conversion to propane. Financial assistance from government, via rebates or tax breaks, can lower the payback of vehicle conversion costs – the time it takes for fuel savings and rebates to cover the cost of conversion – to well under one year. Targeted subsidies from governments to increase the uptake of propane as an automotive fuel will lead to emission reduction.

The government can further reduce emissions and cut costs by introducing propane vehicles into its fleet, as many government vehicles are prime candidates for conversion. A government move to propane vehicles will save taxpayers money and further encourage growth in the auto propane market, creating economies of scale in the conversion, fuelling and equipment sectors.

Exporting Propane to Reduce GHG Emissions

Canada’s abundant propane supply provides untapped export potential to reduce global emissions in high carbon-emitting nations, such as China. According to the World Health Organization, about 4.3 million people die prematurely annually due to exposure to household air pollution caused by traditional fuels.

Propane export terminals on the west coast–one currently being constructed by AltaGas and the other recently approved by Pembina–are game changers for our country. Right now, the U.S. is reaping the benefit of exporting a large percentage of their propane to the Asian market but moving forward, Canada can get into the game. The Asia-Pacific basin is one of the world’s largest and fastest growing energy consuming regions; it is a crucial time for Canada to support our efforts and investment. Propane is a viable solution – it is safe, portable, efficient, accessible and clean-burning.

Creating Economic Value for Canadians

We have significant amounts of propane – a natural raw material with many useful applications, including manufacturing. But we only use about 50 per cent of the propane we produce, sending the majority to the U.S. where, in addition to home heating and industrial applications, they create added value by turning it into polypropylene pellets, an important feedstock for plastic products, and then ship it back to us.

Nathalie St-Pierre, President & CEO of the Canadian Propane Association
Nathalie St-Pierre, President & CEO of the Canadian Propane Association

Alberta’s Petrochemical Diversification program has the potential to return that value to Canadians. The two petrochemical facilities in central Alberta–one currently being constructed by Inter Pipeline and the other continuing to progress front end engineering design by Canada Kuwait Petrochemical Corporation–are gamechangers for Canada. These facilities will not only create value by establishing a new petrochemical supply stream for our propane, but they could eventually attract plastic manufacturers to Alberta. The potential from spin-off industries is substantial. These petrochemical projects provide the opportunity to develop important new markets for western Canadian oil and gas producers, as well as the province through increased regional economic activity and taxes.

Propane is a ready-to- go solution for some of the major economic, energy and environmental challenges facing Canada. With wise policy direction and limited additional spending, propane can continue to provide a low-emission and affordable fuel and significant economic advancements for Canadians.

Nathalie St-Pierre is the President & CEO of the Canadian Propane Association, www.propane.ca.