Alberta Liberal Leader David Swann welcomes US executive order advancing Keystone XL pipeline

Alberta Liberal Leader David Swann welcomed today’s decision in the United States to advance Keystone XL.

“Alberta Liberals have long been in support of pipelines to get the province’s energy resources to international markets, so long as the best environmental protections are included and First Nations communities are properly consulted.

“In light of the significant challenges Alberta has faced relative to the prolonged slump in oil prices, the importance of this project proceeding cannot be overstated. Today’s decision is a positive development for both our province and our country.”


Alberta Liberal Leader David Swann addresses Trudeau’s comment on “phasing out” oil sands

Lethbridge, AB (January 13th, 2017):

David Swann and the Alberta Liberals fully support the oil and gas industry and call on Justin Trudeau to clarify his remarks. Alberta’s oil sands industry is both environmentally responsible and generates hundreds of thousands of jobs both here and across Canada.

“All of us, including the oil and gas industry, already recognise that we are in a transition to cleaner energy,” said Swann. “In the current international economic climate the industry does not need any more uncertainty about its future. We need our Prime Minister to not only support this industry, the economic engine of the country, but to communicate that clearly.

“Given Justin Trudeau’s recent pipeline approvals I believe he should be given the benefit of the doubt and a chance to clarify his remarks,” Swann concluded.


Alberta Liberal Leader David Swann proposes changes to Alberta’s electricity structure that will save billions and eliminate need to borrow to pay off PPAs

Calgary, AB (January 18th, 2017):

Alberta Liberal Leader David Swann unveiled a new policy today that will save Albertans billions of dollars in electricity costs. As well, the policy will remove the need for government to borrow to fund the liability to the Balancing Pool caused by Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) holders returning their contracts under the “Change in Law” clause.

By adjusting the way the Regulated Rate Option (RRO) is calculated (this is the rate most Albertans pay for electricity), the Alberta Liberals’ plan could save Albertans $700 million to 2020 and $3 billion to 2030.

The change is centred on the calculation used to determine the final price of electricity. Currently the RRO is not based on the actual cost of electricity at time of consumption (the “Pool price”), instead using a process based on a “forward price.” Adjusting the process to reflect the actual price creates a very different outcome.

“The forward price has consistently been higher than the actual wholesale price,” says Rob Spragins, a former Utilities Consumer Advocate. “Historically, using this model would have saved Albertans over $1 billion between July 2006 and June 30, 2016.”

In the fall session the government passed the Electric Utilities Amendment Act (Bill 34). This bill allows unlimited borrowing to cover the cost of PPAs returned to the Balancing Pool because of changes in government policy. The liability is estimated between $2.5 billion and $3.5 billion; if paid off by borrowing, the cost to consumers could increase from $350 million to $500 million.

“Albertans are extremely concerned with the debt loads this government is taking on,” says Swann. “Bill 34 gives the NDP unlimited borrowing power to cover up their mistakes in the electricity market. The simple changes we are proposing will remove the need for this additional debt.”

The savings created by the Liberal plan would allow the Balancing Pool to pay off the PPA liability as part of its normal operations, without incurring added expense to consumers through interest payments. The proposed RRO flow-through rate would more than offset the added costs of the PPAs, and consumers would even see a net reduction in their power bills.

For example, to retire the liability of the Balancing Pool by 2020:

 

“By making this simple change,” continued Swann, “the electricity market can operate without manipulation by the government. Under the current regime, the government is taking on enormous risk and, for political reasons, avoiding passing the cost directly on to consumers. In the end, though, the cost is paid out of our pockets.”

Please see attached documentation for details on how the Alberta Liberal plan functions

Alberta Liberal Proposed RRO Changes Backgrounder


David Swann calls for a pause on energy changes in Alberta until intentions of new administration in America are better understood

Alberta Liberal Leader David Swann made this statement to the Alberta Legislature on November 10, 2016:

“Thank you Mr. Speaker,

“I stand today to speak on a very difficult issue for all who believe the science of climate change. Those who know me, know I’ve lobbied for, and some might say crusaded for, environmental change here in Alberta. I’ve felt that strong leadership was long overdue and all of us must share in the cost of reducing emissions.

“Above all, I knew this was never going to be easy. It is even less easy following the election of an unpredictable US president who denies man-made climate change.

“Strong leadership will be needed now, more than ever.

“While I support the targets and timelines for cleaner energy development with its triple benefit for climate, new jobs and alternate economy, the Alberta government must hit pause on other parts of its energy-focused agenda. Given Alberta’s deep dependence on oil and gas, our current economic weakness and the new economic threat from the United States, I see merit in pausing and allowing the new reality and expert views to further inform our decision on the bills we have before us.

“Not stop, just pause.

“I’ve heard the premier say that her Carbon Plan was developed independently and that the actions of our biggest customer – and competitor – will have no effect. Even so, I don’t believe that anyone planned for the United States to go full speed in reverse. Proposals announced by Trump in his truth-challenged campaign have already begun to unfetter the US fossil fuel industry and may drastically alter the investment climate here in Alberta.

“The ramifications of his election are sending shock waves through the Canadian economy. From free trade to softwood lumber to energy, US policies that seemed relatively stable are now in doubt.

“We have no idea what economic effect these changes will have on Alberta. We, in opposition, have not yet been adequately informed as to what effects our own carbon policies might have.

“Much is being taken on faith.

“Here in this house, we serve Albertans. We are mandated to craft for them the best possible laws, policies and regulations after a comprehensive analysis. Our already struggling economy and uncertain investment climate are now faced with an unpredictability that will be better understood in the New Year.

“Sometimes, the strongest leadership is shown by patience and the wisdom to realize that circumstance can alter even the best laid plans.”