Some initial thoughts on the questions.
What is there to gain from a common energy policy for Eastern Canada ?
An energy policy aims at :
- security of supply
- low cost of supply
- economic development
- environmental objectives
In Eastern Canada, there is no huge security of supply problem anywhere, except in remote communities, which are provincial problems.
Economic development from a provincial perspective, i.e. jobs in construction of energy infrastructures, and jobs in industries consuming energy, is typically managed on a competitive basis among provinces. Notable exception is Labrador success in obtaining federal involvement in financing transmission through the Maritimes to New England.
Environmental objectives may lead to collaboration, but typically under federal leadership ; otherwise, those objectives are worldwide as GHGs, or local. Few exceptions exist like acid rain from coal plants.
So in the end the only remaining significant objective at an eastern-Canadian regional level is lowering the cost of supply. (Even though it might be argued that energy is too cheap)
- Lower the cost of electricity in Ontario through a long term contract with Québec ? Theoretically possible ; practically difficult as long as Ontario does not want to share benefits more than during the last 20 years (re. rules of transmission from Labrador, or to PJM)
- I suppose, but am not sure, that Labrador new power will translate into a lowering cost of electricity for the Maritimes
- Lower cost of petroleum for Québec and Maritimes with pipelines...briefly, i.e. until western oil price reaches the international one
There could be some collaboration on some issues, aiming at a « level playing field » : common definition of renewable, negotiation on the allocation of benefits of availability of western oil ... But fundamentally in the absence of a « regional » authority, it will be difficult
What are the technical, political and economic hurdles, challenges and transformations toward the optimal solution ? (provocative)
- mastery of techniques necessary for a transportation fleet and network based on hydrogen
- mastery of techniques for environmentally safe pipelines
- « successful » simulation of oil spill in St-Lawrence gulf
- no institutional framework inducing collaboration (radical version would be a « regional level of government »)
- sincere conviction of smaller provinces that all provinces are « equal » (each has a veto power)
- (Ontario supported) conviction of Newfoundland government that anything on which Quebec agrees must be an unfair deal
- International free trade agreements, limiting the possibility for provincial or even national environmental or energy policy ; for example insuring that GHG fight is mostly limited to words
- Political parties elected with oil money
- Transmission lines allowed to be regulated on a provincial rather than regional basis (cannot be changed as long as only provincial constituents pay for their territorial lines)
- Unwillingness of most developers to exchange information in a transparent manner with concerned citizens and local authorities
- Energy prices do not include linked environmental costs
Thursday 16 October 2014