Atlantic Energy Gateway enhances regional cooperation towards clean energy future

CHARLOTTETOWN, Sept. 10, 2012 /CNW/ - The Honourable Bernard Valcourt, Associate Minister of National Defence and Minister of State (Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency) (La Francophonie), and the Honourable Joe Oliver, Minister of Natural Resources, today joined the ministers of energy of the four Atlantic provinces to announce the results of studies undertaken under the Atlantic Energy Gateway (AEG) initiative. This project was aimed at enhancing government and regional power utilities cooperation in Atlantic Canada for a cleaner energy future.

The research, conducted under the AEG, identified significant potential benefits from regional collaboration, including development and operating cost efficiencies, greater diversity in clean and renewable energy supplies, enhanced stability for ratepayers and lower greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions for the Atlantic region. This research involved significant engagement by the power utilities in the four Atlantic provinces.

"Our Government's top priority is jobs, growth and long-term prosperity," said Minister Valcourt. "The Atlantic Energy Gateway initiative has brought the critical players in the region's energy sector together to not only work toward an affordable, secure, clean energy future, but to also maximize the business and job growth potential of further developing our region's clean and renewable energy industries."

"Today's announcement demonstrates our government's ongoing work with the Atlantic provinces in their transition to a cleaner energy future," said Minister Oliver. "We will continue supporting innovation that advances clean energy technologies and promotes the sustainable use of our energy resources across Canada."

The AEG represents an unprecedented level of collaboration between federal and provincial governments, and provincial utilities. The Atlantic provinces and utilities will use this foundational research, building on the collaborative networks established through the AEG, as they forge ahead with key energy policy and commercial decisions. In the near term, provincial ministers will direct their officials to work with the regional power utilities to further analyse the ways and means of realizing the identified opportunities.

"The ongoing Atlantic Energy Gateway work, in addition to our New Brunswick Energy Blueprint, lays the ground work for future collaborations and partnerships with our neighbours in Atlantic Canada," said the Honourable Craig Leonard, New Brunswick's Acting Minister of Energy. "NB Power's generation capacity coupled with our geographical location makes New Brunswick not only a reliable source of electricity for our Atlantic partners, but also the natural gateway to north-eastern markets."

"The AEG has shown us that there are significant benefits to Nova Scotia and the region as a result of being better connected," said the Honourable Charlie Parker, Nova Scotia's Minister of Energy. "The studies looked at the Maritime Link and the resulting flow of electricity to and through Nova Scotia. With this link in place, Nova Scotia will work with its partners to secure additional value from regional cooperation."

"We are going to seize every available opportunity to work together to access cleaner supplies of energy," said the Honourable Wes Sheridan, Prince Edward Island's Minister of Finance, Energy and Municipal Affairs. "Reducing our reliance on fossil fuels will help stabilize power rates, providing greater predictability for the people of the Atlantic Region."

"Partnerships like the one formed for the Atlantic Energy Gateway support a collaborative approach to embrace opportunities for a stronger energy future for the region," said the Honourable Jerome Kennedy, Newfoundland and Labrador Minister of Natural Resources. "The development of Muskrat Falls is a great example of regional cooperation and would support a strong economic and environmentally sustainable resource for our province, and provide opportunities for the entire region."

The AEG was announced in March 2009 with the objective of enhancing regional cooperation towards the development of Atlantic Canada's clean energy resources. The AEG represents a collaborative approach among the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency, Natural Resources Canada, the Atlantic Provinces, regional power utilities and electricity system operators.

FOR BROADCAST USE:

Federal Ministers Bernard Valcourt and Joe Oliver, together with provincial energy ministers, Wes Sheridan, Craig Leonard, Charlie Parker, and Jerome Kennedy gathered in Charlottetown today as part of the Energy and Mines Ministers' Conference. They announced the completion and results of eight studies that were carried out under the Atlantic Energy Gateway initiative.

The AEG is co-managed by the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency and Natural Resources Canada in collaboration with the Atlantic Provinces, regional utilities and electricity system operators. Research conducted under the AEG demonstrated that increased collaboration and cooperation among provinces and regional power utilities in Atlantic Canada will yield significant future benefits to the region.

                                        

BACKGROUNDER

The Atlantic Energy Gateway (AEG) initiative was announced in March 2009 with the objective of enhancing regional cooperation towards the development of Atlantic Canada's clean and renewable energy resources.

The AEG represents a collaborative approach among the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency, Natural Resources Canada, the Atlantic Provinces, regional power utilities and electricity system operators.

Efforts were directed at eight modeling and research studies, grouped within two general areas:

1)     Power System Planning and Operations Modeling; and
2)     Clean Energy Industrial and Economic Development.

The following summary provides a description of each of the studies.

Power System Planning and Operations Modeling

The objective of the Power System Planning and Operations Modeling was to examine the costs and benefits that could result from greater integration of the Atlantic power systems. Four reports were produced in association with the following interrelated studies:

  1. Resource Development Modeling - Estimated the economic and environmental benefits that could result from planning power generation and transmission projects in Atlantic Canada in an integrated fashion rather than separately, as is done today.
  2. Transmission Modeling - Quantified the increased inter-provincial transmission capacity that would be achieved by a number of key transmission upgrade options within Atlantic Canada, as well as the associated costs with such projects.
  3. Power System Balancing Modeling - Estimated the operational cost savings that could be achieved by balancing power supply and demand in Atlantic Canada on a common basis rather than separately, as is done today.
  4. Power System Operations Options and Considerations - Reviewed various models for operating the power systems in the Atlantic Region and issues associated with their adoption.

Each province possesses important renewable resources and clean energy assets. Developing them strategically will have benefits for all parties. The AEG study work involved unprecedented collaboration amongst the regional utilities, which took on the challenge of modeling the regional power systems out to 2040.

The modeling outcomes indicate that, through regional cooperation, there is significant opportunity for development and operating cost efficiencies, greater diversity in clean and renewable energy supplies, enhanced stability for ratepayers and lower greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions for the Atlantic region. Important savings in capital and operating costs could be avoided by planning collaboratively, and further savings could be realized by also balancing hour-by-hour supply and demand needs on a more regional scale.

Clean and Renewable Energy Industrial and Economic Development

The second component of the AEG work was to examine various issues related to the development of the Atlantic Region's clean and renewable energy industry. The research agenda was carried out through four individual studies:

  1. Financing of Renewable Electricity Projects in Atlantic Canada - Identified and analyzed the challenges associated with financing of renewable energy projects by independent power producers in the Atlantic Provinces.
  2. Regional Clean and Renewable Energy Market Opportunities - Identified interprovincial and export opportunities for Atlantic Canadian clean and renewable energy.
  3. Renewable Generation Supply Chain Opportunities - Examined a range of issues associated with opportunities for Atlantic Canadian firms in the supply chain for various renewable generation technologies including onshore and offshore wind, tidal energy, biomass energy, and systems to power remote on- and off-grid communities.
  4. Research, Development and Demonstration - Examined the current state of clean and renewable energy research, development and demonstration in Atlantic Canada.

The analysis indicated that while large renewable energy projects such as those in the wind sector may be capitalized and developed on the same terms as those in other parts of Canada, and indeed North America, smaller project developers do face obstacles in accessing capital at competitive rates and project 'soft' costs can be problematic.

While current New England wholesale electricity prices are historically low due to the abundance of unconventional natural gas, there will continue to be a premium paid for renewable power as future renewable and environmental regulations become more stringent.

Key findings with respect to research, development, and demonstration projects in Atlantic Canada reveal a diversity of academic and institutional work in a number of sub-sectors. The region also encompasses leading R&D work that may hold the promise of commercialization and broader sector potential developments. Many technologies currently under development may have marketable applications outside of the region.

Atlantic Canada is well-positioned to take advantage of new opportunities in the clean and renewable sector, in particular those elements of the supply chain relevant to the marine sector. For example, while current business opportunities to service the tidal power sector are limited, the region is well positioned in terms of industrial infrastructure to contribute substantially to this supply chain as it matures.

Executive summaries for the AEG reports can be accessed on the ACOA website at:
http://www.acoa-apeca.gc.ca/eng/publications/ResearchStudies/Pages/Home.aspx#aeg.

SOURCE: ATLANTIC CANADA OPPORTUNITIES AGENCY (ACOA)

For further information:

Andrea Richer
Press Secretary
Office of Minister Valcourt
613-790-3637

Deborah Corey
Director Public Affairs
Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency
506-851-2231

Carly Wolff
Press Secretary
Office of Minister Oliver
613-996-2007

Media Relations
Natural Resources Canada
613-992-4447

Tyler Campbell
Director of Communications
Province of New Brunswick
Department of Energy
506-453-8420

Donna Chislett
Director of Communications
Province of Nova Scotia
Department of Energy
902-424-1195

Jennifer Macdonald-Donovan
Communications Officer
Province of Prince Edward Island
Department of Finance, Energy and Municipal Affairs
902-620-3679

Heather MacLean
Director of Communications
Government of Newfoundland and Labrador
Department of Natural Resources
709-729-5282