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Comeau Says Electricity Reform, Helping Citizens Adopt Renewables And Efficiency, Must Be Top Priority For Next Climate Plan

Province can seize strategic opportunity to cut emissions while lowering energy costs for citizens and businesses

Province can seize strategic opportunity to cut emissions while lowering energy costs for citizens and businesses

Traditional Land of Wabanaki People/Fredericton – Dr. Louise Comeau told MLAs that the top priority for the government’s next five-year climate action plan should be long-overdue energy reform that lowers carbon pollution, improves citizens’ health and safety, and makes electricity more affordable for New Brunswick households and businesses.

Dr. Comeau, Director of the Conservation Council’s Climate Change and Energy Solutions program, presented to the Standing Committee on Climate Change and Environmental Stewardship on Tuesday, Jan. 18. The committee is hearing from experts and stakeholders as it prepares to make recommendations to the Legislative Assembly on updating the province’s climate action plan.

Comeau told committee members that electrifying our provincial energy system will reduce the pollution causing climate change while making energy more affordable for New Brunswickers.

Bringing more wind power online in New Brunswick, connecting to regional hydro power through the Atlantic Loop, and helping citizens get into electric vehicles, onto electric public transit, and installing better insulation, windows and doors in their homes will lower both greenhouse gas emissions and household energy costs, Comeau said.

She called for an electrification strategy comprised of:

  • Amending the Electricity Act to allow a mix of public, private and community-owned power generation;
  • Updating energy policy to focus on renewable energy such wind and solar over small modular nuclear generation, in line with studies showing renewables are the most cost-effective way to reduce emissions and meet energy demands;
  • A new target of 80 per cent renewable energy in New Brunswick by 2030; and,
  • Exploring options for regional integrated resource planning, i.e. creation of the Atlantic Loop

She said such a plan will position New Brunswick to meet more stringent emissions-reduction targets as Canada moves toward 60 per cent below 2005 levels by 2030 and near-zero by 2050, but will also make energy more affordable and reliable and homes more comfortable during cold winter snaps and summer heat waves.

“We often hear when we talk about reforming our electricity system toward renewables and efficiency, that it will make energy more expensive. The fact is, most analyses show that is not true—that, in fact, New Brunswickers could see bills drop by 30 per cent by moving to near-zero emissions policies,” Comeau said, citing a 2021 report from the International Energy Agency.

“The idea that rates alone should be our concern is actually a false choice. What New Brunswickers want is lower bills, and we can have higher rates but lower bills through energy efficiency and electrification.”

Comeau also called on MLAs to focus the climate plan update on:

  • Measures to reduce the hazards of increasingly severe extreme weather and improving community preparedness and adaptation;
  • Stronger accountability and transparency from government, especially on ensuring revenue from carbon pricing is used exclusively on climate action initiatives and programs; and, 
  • Better engaging with and listening to what New Brunswickers want when it comes to energy generation.

You can see Dr. Comeau’s full presentation to the committee here: English | French.

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To arrange an interview, contact: Jon MacNeill, Communications Director, Conservation Council of New Brunswick | jon.macneill@conservationcouncil.ca | 506-238-3539

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