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E.D. BLOG: Electrification and the future of energy in Newfoundland and Labrador

October 7, 2019 | Written By: Kieran Hanley

Last month Synapse Energy Economics Inc. submitted its report to the Public Utilities Board (PUB) evaluating options for cost savings and revenues through ‘electrification’, among other things.

The PUB is currently engaged in a review and analysis of rate mitigation options and impacts, or more simply put: looking at what we can do to avoid having our electricity rates significantly increase in the coming years. The Synapse report suggests that electrification can definitely help.

Electrification is the conversion of a machine or system to the use of electrical power. Its emerging importance in the Newfoundland and Labrador context is two-fold. First, with Muskrat Falls coming online almost all of our power will be renewable, so each initiative taken to switch from fossil fuel-based activities to electric reduces our provincial greenhouse gas emissions. Second, and most important from the PUB perspective, the increased demand for electricity that would occur as a result of electrification grows the customer base for our energy – and thus is important from a rate mitigation perspective.

Here we have two forces – (1) an increasing pressure to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions, and (2) an interest from all stakeholders to keep consumer electricity prices in check – that are aligning. For this reason, NEIA believes it’s important for its members to take interest, as there will surely be associated opportunities in the years to come.

The PUB is focusing on electrification at the base level – things like the increased adoption of electric vehicles, the switching of fossil fuel-based heating to electric, and the provision of electric power to ships to avoid them idling in our provincial ports.

But we are seeing internationally that the trend towards electrification goes beyond these areas. Electrified public transportation (e.g. buses, trains, taxis) is becoming the norm. Ferries and cruise ships are shifting towards electric or hybrid technologies. Mining operations are increasingly adopting and accessing renewable energy for their operations (happening already in NL). Offshore oil and gas activities are being supplied with renewable energy to avoid the use of large diesel generators. Norway has the objective even to have all domestic air travel serviced by electric aircraft.

When climate change action meets favourable economics (and funding opportunities to support), watch out. That’s why we’re going to spend a half day at our Newleef conference next week talking about electrification. What does electrification mean in the Newfoundland and Labrador context? What if we were to think big? What roles will renewable energy and storage possibly play long-term?

We hope that you can join us next week to start exploring these interesting questions!

/ Kieran

Newleef 2019 is Newfoundland & Labrador’s green economy and clean technology conference – the one event during the year that brings environmental entrepreneurs, professionals, researchers, decision-makers, regulators, support agencies, and other stakeholders in the province together to network and learn about current trends and opportunities in the sector.

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