Dirty or clean, politics drive cross-border energy deals – by Konrad Yakabuski (Globe and Mail – July 4, 2016)


The U.S. President who infamously opposed one form of cross-border energy infrastructure is putting his weight behind another. But will Barack Obama’s support for more cross-border electricity transmission links rescue provincially owned utilities from the deep holes they’ve dug by spending billions on new hydro projects amid a flooded North American power market?

The goal set at last week’s North American Leaders’ Summit to increase the share of clean energy in the continent’s electricity mix to 50 per cent by 2025, from 37 per cent now, could largely depend on the fate of a several proposals to build new transmission lines to transport Canadian hydropower south.

Yet each of those proposals faces steep opposition from U.S. environmental groups and electricity distributors, which argue that Canadian hydropower is neither clean nor renewable, while its cost far exceeds that of greener homegrown alternatives.

The North American Climate, Clean Energy, and Environment Partnership Action Plan calls for Canada, the United States and Mexico to “support the development of cross-border transmission projects, including for renewable electricity.”

A White House backgrounder noted that at least six such transmission projects – including five Canada-U.S. links – are in various stages of development, potentially boosting cross-border electricity trade by 5,000 megawatts.

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