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Business-Led Task Force Calls on Premiers to Develop an Electrification Strategy for Canada

Press Release

WINNIPEG, MB, May 24, 2022 – Electrifying Canada, a business-led task force aimed at accelerating electrification across the nation, is calling on Canada’s premiers—through the Council of the Federation—to spearhead the development and implementation of an electrification strategy for Canada.

This is the key recommendation from its new report, Canada’s Electrification Advantage in the Race to Net Zero, which synthesizes existing research and interviews with 20 corporate and Indigenous leaders to identify what it will take to accelerate the pace of clean electrification in Canada.

While the federal government has an important role to play, responsibility for electricity and energy systems more broadly largely resides with the provinces. Only they have the authority to direct utilities and regulators alike to align their planning and decisions with the electrification needed to reach net-zero, and they will need to work together to optimize and integrate their power grids to do so at the lowest cost to consumers.

The report identifies five catalysts that can help overcome current barriers to business electrification and serve as a starting point for a national electrification strategy.

  1. As businesses, we need to ACT, supporting the early deployment of electrified solutions, learning by doing, and translating climate action targets into electrification plans, pilots, and projects that prove out approaches to support scaled-up investment.
  2. We need provincial governments to EMPOWER climate leadership by providing clear net-zero mandates to utilities and the regulators that oversee them. Fully embracing electrification’s potential and enabling its role in cutting pollution will require modernizing the mandates of regulators, local and provincial utilities, system planners, and system operators to ensure utility plans and regulatory decisions are consistent with pathways to net-zero.
  3. Utilities should move to immediately ALIGN and optimize their planning with net-zero pathways to ensure that all customers have enough clean power where they need it and when they need it, enabling them to increasingly electrify.
  4. Governments need to TILT the playing field to provide the certainty needed to drive electrification, facilitating greater investment certainty by regulating clear performance standards and guaranteeing a rising price on carbon pollution. This must be accompanied by clear and corresponding timelines for scaling up clean electricity.
  5. We need to FINANCE electrification projects and new clean electricity supply by crowding in private investment, channelling interest in private investment through innovative public–private–Indigenous approaches. These efforts should also recognize and replicate the current examples of private–Indigenous approaches that do not require public funding.

The report is accompanied by four sector briefs, which explore specific barriers and recommend how relevant catalysts can enable the electrification of commercial and institutional buildings, medium- and heavy-duty vehicles, and the construction and mining sectors, as well as encourage the necessary scaling up of clean electricity generation.

Electrifying Canada is co-chaired by Susan McGeachie (BMO) and Richard Florizone (IISD), and its members include Teck Resources, OPG, Dunsky Energy + Climate Advisors, Innergex Renewable Energy, First Nations Major Project Coalition, Cameco, and the Ivey Foundation.

The task force is an affiliate of the Energy Transitions Commission, a global coalition of leaders from across the energy landscape committed to achieving net-zero emissions by mid-century.

QUOTES FROM TASK FORCE CO-CHAIRS

“Clean electrification is key to Canada achieving net-zero, and key to ensuring Canadian businesses can compete in a low carbon world,” says Susan McGeachie, co-chair of Electrifying Canada and Head of the BMO Climate Institute. “But if we are going to deliver on this, we need Canada’s premiers to step up to champion electrification and take the lead in developing an electrification strategy for Canada. We’re ready to roll up our sleeves to help.”

“We need a proactive and collaborative effort to accelerate electrification that brings together business, finance, government, and Indigenous leaders,” adds Richard Florizone, co-chair of Electrifying Canada and CEO of the International Institute for Sustainable Development. “In the coming months, we plan to convene leaders to translate the catalysts for electrification we’ve identified from advice into action.”

MEMBER QUOTES

“At Cameco, our vision of energizing a clean-air world recognizes that we have an important role to play in enabling a resilient net-zero carbon economy. That is why we support Electrifying Canada in its efforts to accelerate electrification using clean energy solutions like nuclear power to further advance Canada’s competitive advantage in the race to achieving net-zero.” – Tim Gitzel, President and CEO, Cameco

“If we care about winning the race to a low-carbon economy while protecting consumer affordability and competitiveness, electricity will have to play a vastly bigger role than it does today. I fully support the task force’s calls to action. Indeed, they are essential if we are to move from targets to real-world results.” – Philippe Dunsky, President, Dunsky Energy + Climate Advisors

“The infrastructure required to achieve electrification and emissions reductions will impact Indigenous lands. In order to be successful at achieving net-zero targets, governments and the private sector must ensure that the interests held by Indigenous groups are incorporated into public policy and project planning. This includes access to competitive capital for equity partnerships and capacity support so that informed business decisions can be made.” – Niilo Edwards, Executive Director, First Nations Major Projects Coalition

“Electrification is the foundation for Canada achieving net-zero by 2050, and the build out of renewable electricity supply and transmission needs to start now. Aligning utility and regulator mandates with net-zero targets and crowding in private investment will be essential to achieving this transformational opportunity while growing jobs and our economy.” – Julia Balabanowicz, Senior Director Corporate Relations and Policy, Innergex Renewable Energy Inc.

“We have the evidence, expertise, and technology to prioritize electrification in Canada; what we need now is the governance structures to execute. Private sector leadership, as demonstrated by Electrifying Canada, will be critical for driving the collaboration required and scaling the infrastructure for net-zero electricity.” – Bruce Lourie, President, Ivey Foundation

“Electricity’s role in the energy system has grown for over a century and it will need to continue growing while improving our standard of living. OPG is proud to be leading the push for electrification through the work of our subsidiary, PowerON, through our Ivy EV charging network partnership with Hydro One, and by continuing to expand and upgrade our clean energy fleet.” – James Brewer, VP Business Development & Strategy, Ontario Power Generation

“Electrification is essential to achieving our shared priorities of reducing emissions and taking action on climate change. Teck is committed to making our operations net-zero, and access to clean power is a critical part of meeting that goal.” – Marica Smith, SVP Sustainability & External Affairs, Teck

“To achieve our climate ambitions, a profound transformation of the global energy system is ahead. A net-zero economy will be built on clean electrification—by mid-century, even high-income countries will need 2–3 times as much electricity as today. A strong business-led voice is critical to fostering change, and by addressing the barriers to Canada’s clean electrification, Electrifying Canada is at the heart of the challenge. Governments, businesses, and investors need to recognize the scale of the new industrial revolution required and the huge opportunities it creates.” – Ita Kettleborough, Director, Energy Transitions Commission.

For further information: Media contact: Vanessa Farquharson, Director, Communications, International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD), (613) 238-2296 ext. 114, [email protected]

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