The Saskatchewan government says it won’t comply with federal clean electricity regulations when they come into effect.

The statement, posted in a news release Tuesday, is in response to the Saskatchewan Economic Impact Assessment Tribunal’s conclusion that if the draft clean electricity regulations are implemented, it would stunt job growth and cost billions of dollars.

The regulations are meant to help the shift toward a net-zero electricity grid, help provinces and territories maintain electricity affordability for Canadians and businesses and maintain grid reliability, according to a federal website.

But the provincial tribunal said when compared with Saskatchewan’s Affordability Plan, the regulations will not aid with affordability.

“For the period from 2025 to 2035, Saskatchewan’s economic growth as measured by [GDP] will be at least $7.1 billion lower … if the federal regulations were to apply,” tribunal chair Michael Milani said Tuesday. Milani also said there would be 4,200 fewer jobs, mainly because of increased electricity costs.

People sit at a table with a man at a podium speaking into a microphone
Members of the Economic Impact Assessment Tribunal presented a report with their findings when comparing Saskatchewan’s Affordability Plan with the federal government’s proposed clean electricity regulations. From left: Michael Milani speaks at the podium; seated are Janice MacKinnon, Kenneth From, Estella Petersen and Stuart Smyth. (Dayne Patterson/CBC)

The five-person tribunal was created in tandem with The Saskatchewan First Act in 2023, with goals to assert exclusive rights under the Constitution and combat what Justice Minister and Attorney General Bronwyn Eyre described at the time as “constitutional overreach” by the federal government

“We cannot participate in federal economic harm to our province,” Eyre said in a news release issued Tuesday morning. 

The release says Saskatchewan has placed the onus on the federal government to prove the constitutionality of the regulations before it imposes them on the province.

“We will not be submitting taxpayers to the cost of litigation against the federal government unless litigated against,” said Eyre.

CBC has contacted the federal government for response.

The Saskatchewan government refers to the federal initiatives it believes could cause harm to provincial projects, operations, activities, industries, businesses or residents. In this case, the tribunal was asked to review the clean electricity regulations in November 2023, Milani said.

It determined that by 2035, residential ratepayers would pay $241 more in electricity costs under the draft regulations. Similarly, commercial ratepayers and small industrial ratepayers would pay $888 and $1,429 more respectively.

Milani said the tribunal found that the technology needed to meet the draft federal regulations does not exist and the time limit stymies industry from meeting the deadlines. It also found the province likely won’t have the labour available to meet the regulations within the deadline.

“We also concluded that in order to make this work, people have to lend money; they have to invest capital. Businesses have to want to make these changes,” Milani said.

He said it’s possible that businesses that can’t meet the labour, technology or other requirements may move elsewhere.

A man stands at a podium with Canadian and Saskatchewan flags behind him
Michael Milani says the tribunal, while created as part of the Saskatchewan First Act, is independent. (Dayne Patterson/CBC)

Will Noel, an electricity analyst with Pembina Institute, said he was surprised the government said it would not comply with the regulations.

He was also concerned with the source of the data.

“It seems, if I’m not mistaken, that the analysis is based off the original language from the clean electricity regulations that were published back in August,” he said.

Ottawa made changes to the regulations in February, according to the government website.

The tribunal contracted consultant Navius to prepare a study that used economic models to compare the clean electricity regulations with Saskatchewan’s Affordability Plan.



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