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Home Policy Articles: Regional & Sectoral: Energy


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A Time for Vision: A Sustainable & Equitable Economy

The Alberta government’s 2005 budget will be the first since the provincial debt was eliminated. According to the Parkland Institute’s Committee on Alberta’s Finances, this budget should lay the foundations for a vision to build a socially sustainable and equitable economy. 2005...

Back to Hewers of Wood and Drawers of Water: Energy, Trade, and the Demise of Petrochemicals in Alberta

According to Terisa Turner and Diana Gibson, Canadians question why Canada traded its energy sovereignty with the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).

California Shorts a Circuit: Should Canadians Trust the Wiring Diagram?

Mark Jaccard’s article focuses on the California energy crisis of 2000-01 in the aftermath of its electricity reforms, considers the apparent failures of those reforms, and suggests lessons that can be learned, from a Canadian perspective. Jaccard begins by outlining the debate surrounding privatization of the energy sector, arguing that “sceptics” who believe privatization will inevitably lead to California-like crises are wrong. Rather than demonstrating an inherent flaw in the reforms being undertaken in Ontario and Alberta (occurring at the time of his writing), Jaccard suggests the California crisis should be viewed as an example of the “large risks of market design.”

Canada’s Energy Future: An Integrated Path

In this report, Jason Churchill, Len Coad, and Maureen Dickson propose that Canada’s energy policy must take into consideration the international obligations to reduce green house gas (GHG) emissions, and environmental protection for present and future generations of Canadians.

Curbed Enthusiasm for Electricity Reform

This briefing by Down, Hoover, Howatson and Rheaume is the first in a series of publications by the Conference Board of Canada examining electricity restructuring experiences in Canada, the United Kingdom, and the United States. This series explores the unique characteristics of the electricity industry and the special challenges that regions face when undertaking restructuring. This particular briefing takes a detailed look at the relationship between environmental policy and market regulation as related to restructuring.

Electricity Restructuring: Acting in Principles

This briefing, by Down, Hoover, Howatson and Rheaume, is the second in a series that highlights key learnings from the experience of North American and United Kingdom electricity restructuring initiatives over a period of 10 years. This briefing argues that improved public policy is required to reduce uncertainty for private investors who wish to enter the electricity market. Down, Hoover, Howatson and Rheaume examine how public policy decisions and political intervention can help or hinder the restructuring process.

Electricity Restructuring: Improving Policy Coherence

This briefing by Al Howatson is part of the Conference Board of Canada’s electricity restructuring series. It focuses on the importance of policy coherence for the electricity sector.

Electricity Restructuring: Letting Prices Work

In this brief report, Down, Hoover, Howatson and Rheaume focus on the role of price in market economies, and specifically electricity markets. They argue that in recent electricity restructuring attempts, prices have not reflected key changes. This briefing is the fourth in a series highlighting key learnings from experiences in electricity restructuring in North America and the United Kingdom over a period of 10 years.

Electricity Restructuring: Opening Power Markets

This briefing by Down, Hoover, Howatson and Rhéaume is part of the Conference Board of Canada’s electricity restructuring series. The briefing examines the need for investment in electricity transmission capacity. Down suggest possible ways of achieving this investment, while exploring the related challenges. The authors point out that the electricity transmission system in North America is highly complex and interconnected, and requires investment in order to replace its aging infrastructure, accommodate cross-border exchanges, and ensure the reliability and security of electricity delivery.

Electricity Restructuring: Securing Clean Power

Securing Clean Power is part of the Conference Board of Canada’s Electricity Restructuring series. In this paper, Down ask whether liberalized electricity markets inevitably lead to poorer environmental performance. To answer this question, they examine the impact of electricity restructuring on the environment, as well as the implications of restructuring for environmental policy in the United States, Great Britain and Canada.

EnviroCentre: Sense and Sustainability in the National Capital

As Anne Makhoul explains, the EnviroCentre offers a range of programs and information for individuals and businesses seeking to improve their bottom lines while making a positive environmental impact.

EPCOR: A Study of Ownership, Accountability and the Public Interest

This report discusses the many characteristics of EPCOR that make it a company with many contradictions. Diana Gibson points to the fact that EPCOR is owned by the City of Edmonton, yet is not answerable to the public, and that it is not a private company yet it has stock on the Toronto Stock Exchange and operates in areas outside of Alberta (including the US). Gibson considers the unique positioning of EPCOR in light of accountability and public interest. In her opinion EPCOR's shortage in these areas is of immediate importance because the City of Edmonton is considering handing its drainage system over to EPCOR. Gibson suggests a number measures that could improve accountability.

EPCOR: A Study of Ownership, Accountability, and the Public Interest

As Diana Gibson explains, EPCOR was founded on Edmonton’s power and water utilities, yet operates in other provinces and in the US.

Fiscal Surplus, Democratic Deficit: Budgeting and Government Finance in Alberta

This paper, authored by the Parkland Institute's Committee on Alberta's Finances, explores the Alberta government’s formal budgeting process.

From Public Good to Private Exploitation: Electricity Deregulation, Privatization and Continental Integration

Marjorie Griffin Cohen’s paper From Public Good to Private Exploitation: Electricity Deregulation, Privatization and Continental Integration argues the public provision of electricity is in a precarious position due to forces driving industry deregulation. Though Canada’s electricity industry remains largely publicly owned, Cohen believes the industry is invariably headed towards privatization.

Fueling our Future: Strategic Energy Policy Opportunities for Canada

This report was prepared to provide an overview and summarize the conclusions of the November 2004 conference hosted by the Public Policy Forum entitled Fueling Our Future: Strategic Energy Policy Opportunities for Canada. The purpose of this conference was to create a better understanding of the issues facing the energy sector, and to promote dialogue on a national approach to meeting Canada’s needs.

Fuelling Fortress America: A Report on the Athabasca Tar Sands and U.S. Demands for Canada's Energy

In this report, Hugh McCullum explores development of the Athabasca tar sands in northern Alberta. Fo...

Fuelling Fortress America: A Report on the Athabasca Tar Sands and U.S. Demands for Canada’s Energy

The Athabasca tar sands in Alberta hold the largest hydrocarbon deposit ever discovered, containing an estimated 175 to 200 billion barrels of recoverable oil. Using newer technology, this number might increase to as much as 2.5 trillion barrels of oil.

Gutting a Power House: BC Hydro and the New Energy Plan

This paper, written by Marjorie Griffin Cohen, critiques the BC Energy Plan’s proposals for changing the provision of electricity in BC. The BC government claims that changes to BC Hydro under this new energy plan are relatively minor; however, Cohen argues the changes will radically and irrevocably change the nature of BC Hydro and critically undermine its strength as a public provider of electricity.

Holes in the Road to Consensus: The Infrastructure Deficit – How Much and Why?

In this e-brief, Mintz and Roberts address the issue of the infrastructure deficit. They note that, according to some estimates, this deficit has reached $57 billion – although the authors say this figure is questionable. Mintz and Roberts point out that, if an infrastructure deficit does indeed exist, then it begs the question as to why municipalities do so little about it, especially when their per capita real revenues are growing.

Making Kyoto Work: A Transition Strategy for Energy Workers

In Making Kyoto Work: A Transition Strategy for Energy Workers, Dale Marshall, of the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, considers how many energy sector jobs could be lost if Canada were to “get serious” about the Kyoto Protocol. Too often, Marshall argues, Kyoto commentators ignore the economic benefits of decreasing greenhouse gas emissions.

Mission Possible: A Canadian Resources Strategy for the Boom and Beyond

In this report, Gilles Rheaume and John Roberts argue that Canada is well positioned to benefit from increased demand for resources in the global economy.

Natural Resources and Government Revenue: Recent Trends in Saskatchewan

In this report on natural resource revenue in Saskatchewan, John Warnock heavily criticizes both the Tory provincial government (prior to 1991) and the NDP provincial government that followed it for not capitalizing on the economic potential of natural resources.

Our Winters of Discontent: Addressing the Problem of Rising Home Heating Costs

Due to Canada’s climate, residential heating is a necessity, and is largely provided by fossil fuels. Larry Hughes examines the vulnerability of residents to increases in the cost of natural gas, fuel oil, and electricity generated from fossil fuels.

Pain Without Gain: Shutting Down Coal-Fired Power Plants Would Hurt Ontario

In this paper, McKitrick, Green, and Schwartz argue that closing coal-fired plants in Ontario will imperil industrial development in Ontario, increase energy costs, and reduce the reliability of the electricity supply. This report comes in response to an Ontario government announcement that it will close all coal-fired power plants by 2007. McKitrick, Green, and Schwartz remark that this is an unusual decision, as it comes at a time of rising power consumption, high oil and gas prices, and uncertainty regarding the willingness of the private sector to invest in electricity generation.

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