Alberta committee prepares report on hydro development

A report produced by the Alberta Legislature’s Resource Stewardship Committee could help increase hydroelectric power in the northern part of the province, has learned.

The study, titled “Review of the Potential for Expanded Hydroelectric Energy Production in Northern Alberta”, examines the economic and environmental advantages of hydro development within a framework of partnerships with aboriginal peoples, and other provinces and territories.

“As Alberta begins replacing its primarily coal-fired electricity generation, it can draw on substantial hydro potential to replace that generation and help meet new demand,” said Canadian Hydropower Association (CHA) President Jacob Irving.

CHA made a presentation to the committee this past October in preparation for the study, which was conducted largely in part due to the decommissioning of Alberta’s coal plants under new federal rules.

Currently, CHA said, hydroelectric power contributes just 2% of Alberta’s electricity while coal-fired generation accounts for 60%.

However, the province has more than 11,000 MW of hydropower potential, making hydroelectric development an attractive option to increase baseload supply.

“While providing environmental benefits, hydroelectricity also offers affordability to consumers over the long term,” a CHA release said. “Those provinces with large-scale developed hydro have the most affordable electricity rates in Canada.”

Overall, the country produces 60% of its power from hydroelectric sources, making Canada the world’s third largest hydro generator. Still, CHA said the country can more than double its installed hydropower capacity.

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