Government Purchases of Electricity from Renewable Resources

Source: JOIN IEA/IRENA Policy and Measures Database
Last updated: 4 March 2013

Following a recommendation by the Task Force on Economic Instruments and Disincentives to Sound Environmental Practices in 1994, Natural Resources Canada (NRCan) studied the feasibility of having the federal government buy some of its electricity from emerging renewable energy sources (ERES). ERES include wind, solar, water, biomass and geothermal where the electricity is generated from emerging and innovative applications. After consulting with electrical utilities and the renewable energy industry, NRCan announced its intention to start pilot projects to purchase electricity from renewable sources. In 1997, NRCan began purchasing electricity from ERES from ENMAX, Calgarys electric system. The ten-year agreement with ENMAX is for the production of 10 000 megawatt hours of electricity from renewable sources for NRCan´s Alberta facilities. Environment Canada also signed an agreement with ENMAX for 2 000 megawatt hours of green electricity for their electricity requirements in Alberta. Together, NRCan and Environment Canada agreements will displace more than 10 000 tonnes of CO2 annually. In 2000, NRCan signed a ten-year agreement with SaskPower, Saskatchewans electric utility and is receiving about 32 000 megawatt hours annually of wind power for its facilities in Saskatchewan. Early in 2001, NRCan signed an agreement with Maritime Electric from Prince Edward Island to purchase electricity from ERES. This ten-year agreement is for the production of 13 000 megawatt hours annually of wind power. The pilot projects in Saskatchewan and Prince Edward Island will deliver about 40 000 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions reductions annually. Under "Action Plan 2000 on Climate Change", it was expected that the federal government would purchase an additional 400 000 megawatt hours or so of electricity from ERES. Assuming a continued focus on the displacement of high-carbon electricity, these 400 000 megawatt hours would come from several provinces, particularly Nova Scotia, Ontario and New Brunswick, with additional purchases in Alberta. These purchases would result in a further reduction in greenhouse gas emissions of about 200 000 tonnes annually. In 2004, the Government of Canada signed a 5-year agreement for 90 000 megawatt hours of electricity from Energy Ottawa in Ontario. New agreements are no longer being negotiated under this program. The goal of the Government purchases of electricity from ERES was to: * Provide a "first customer" to help interested utilities gain experience with different electricity products. * Achieve emissions reductions in federal operations. * Leverage first purchases to create viable green power markets.