a string of powerlines extends into distance in prairie fields with wind turbines in background
Canada is taking one more step towards realizing its goal of a net-zero emission grid by 2035 with a second public engagement on a proposed roadmap to the goal.

The federal government released its proposed Frame for the Clean Electricity Regulations this week, informed by previous consultations on its earlier discussion paper, and is soliciting feedback until August 17

Canada is taking one more step towards realizing its goal of a net-zero emission grid by 2035 with a second public engagement on a proposed roadmap to the goal.

The proposed Frame for the Clean Electricity Regulations was released this week by Environment and Climate Change Canada following the consultation period opened after the release of a discussion paper on the subject in March 2022.

The previous consultation period elicited “over 160 written submissions and numerous discussions with key interested parties during open and broad engagement,” states government documents.

This time, interested submitters will have until August 17 to respond to the proposed framework.

The framework

Formerly known as the “Clean Energy Standard” the renamed Clean Energy Regulations (CER), “would be part of a suite of federal measures to move Canada’s electricity sector to net zero as an enabler for broader decarbonization of the economy.”

The CER is concentrated on moving Canada’s electricity generation to renewables where possible or low-emitting fuels in certain cases. In the event of grid emergencies, natural gas electricity generation would still be permitted as technology at this time does not allow for a full move away from that generation source.

“The CER and complementary measures would encourage energy efficiency; demand side management, dynamic pricing; and a range of efficiency, abatement and non-emitting generating technologies such as carbon capture and storage (CCS), solar, wind, geothermal, small modular nuclear reactors (SMRs), hydro, distributed energy systems, interties and energy storage. It could also support bringing more clean power from Indigenous power producers to Canada’s electricity systems,” reads the document. The four focus areas of the framework are:

  • Clean electricity supply and generation;
  • Clean electricity transmission and storage;
  • Electrifician and energy efficiency for energy end-use sectors; and
  • Innovative, clean and enabling technologies to advance electrification.
A description of the areas of focus for Canada’s net-zero grid. Graphic: Environment and Climate Change Canada

Opportunities for input

The CER will not be binding until January 1, 2035, says the government, but “[t]he decision to commission a new unit after 2025 will need to take into consideration the CER obligations.”

The opportunities for input include giving submissions on the “grace period” emitting generating plants that have not reached end of life should be given to operate past 2035, the amount of allowable emissions per plant and an appropriate compensation amount to be levied, and defining the plants that fall under CER compliance.

The payoff, the government says, will be felt by Canadians who will not only get health benefits from a low- or zero-emission energy sector, but also could see financial benefits in their monthly bills.

“For consumers, costs can be reduced by improving energy efficiency and techniques such as demand management as well as the adoption of low-cost wind and solar. In addition, shifting from higher-cost fossil fuels to electricity can reduce total household energy budgets, for example by charging an EV with electricity that costs the equivalent of less than 40 cents per litre for gasoline — or less,” reads the document.

The government is particularly interested in soliciting input from provinces, territories, Indigenous leaders, industry and environmental organizations — especially those in northern and remote communities (areas that are still heavily reliant on fossil-fuel burning electricity generation) or in higher-emitting grid jurisdictions through natural gas plants.

Interested parties can make submissions on the proposed Frame for the Clean Electricity Regulations by August 17, 2022, to: ECD-DEC@ec.gc.ca.