Environmentally and economically, there are too many upsides to renewables like wind energy for Alberta to ignore.
This is confirmed by recent public opinion research done by Nanos Research on behalf of the Canadian Wind Energy Association (CanWEA).
Nanos Research examined the views of Albertans on a wide range of electricity issues, focusing on the largest sources of electricity generation currently operating in Alberta. The research found that almost 80 per cent of Albertans surveyed say the Government of Alberta has not done enough to develop wind power and other renewable forms of large-scale electricity generation.
Wind energy is also an attractive Alberta electricity option for other reasons. A September 2014 report from the independent financial advisory firm Lazard shows that wind energy costs continue to fall to the point where wind is rapidly becoming the lowest cost option for new electricity in many parts of the United States.
This is also true in Alberta, where the independent electric system operator’s most recent forecast shows wind is second only to natural gas, even at today’s historical low gas prices. While natural gas is just over 5 per cent lower than wind costs, wind energy doesn’t face the commodity price and carbon risks that will nudge natural gas costs higher in the future. Simply put, wind energy is already cost-competitive and provides Albertans with long-term stability in electricity prices and a hedge against price volatility.
If Premier Prentice is committed to achieving cost-effective, long-term GHG emission reductions in the electricity sector as part of addressing climate change, wind energy will need to play a primary and growing role in Alberta’s electricity system. The good news is that new opinion polling data shows Albertans are firmly behind him in doing so.