Canadian Hydropower Association

Canadian Hydropower Association

March 30, 2012 16:00 ET

Canadian Hydropower Association Welcomes Budget Plan on Regulatory Reform

OTTAWA, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - March 30, 2012) - The Canadian Hydropower Association (CHA) responded positively to the proposed improvements to environmental regulation contained in the federal budget, Economic Action Plan 2012, released on Thursday, 29 March by the Honourable James Flaherty, Minister of Finance. "The government announced that it will address several longstanding challenges contained within the environmental regulatory regime applied to renewable resource development projects," said CHA President, Jacob Irving, "we are pleased to see a plan for comprehensive reform to introduce clarity, certainty, and efficiency into the system without compromising environmental protection."

Hydropower is the largest renewable energy source in Canada and is a strong ally in the fight against climate change. CHA members seek to develop and operate their projects in a way that is consistent with the principles of sustainable development. There are 74,000 megawatts of installed hydropower capacity providing clean, renewable, low-emission power to Canadians. The industry supplies over 60 percent of Canada's electricity and we are the world's third largest generator of hydropower. As well developed as we are in Canada, there remains an opportunity to more than double our existing hydro generation capacity and to do it in a sustainable way. Hydropower is also an enabler of variable electricity sources such as wind and solar power. A clear, reliable, and efficient regulatory system is critical to developing additional clean, renewable, low-emission electricity.

"We need to eliminate regulatory duplication, encourage the substitution of provincial processes over federal processes where possible, improve coordination among federal agencies, and establish functional timelines for assessments" said Mr. Irving. The CHA believes that overlapping rules and multiple open-ended processes do not enhance environmental protection and can actually frustrate it. The CHA sees a plan in the 2012 budget that seeks to address these inefficiencies by making environmental protection more certain and effective.

The CHA has been a long-time supporter of the "one project, one review" approach to environmental assessment wherever practical, and is encouraged to see this approach reflected in Thursday's budget. According to the announcement, project reviews will be carried out in a coordinated way and will take advantage of process substitution where it makes sense. This development is both important and encouraging to hydropower development in Canada. Additionally, environmental reviews are to be initiated expeditiously and process timelines will be introduced. The CHA is also pleased to see the federal government has dedicated funding for consultations with Aboriginal peoples. In addition to the government's legal obligation to consult, community input is essential to ensuring that hydro projects respect Aboriginal values and offer significant local benefits.

"The government has identified important areas for improvement that would encourage the development of clean and renewable electricity in Canada," said Mr Irving. "At the same time, it is critical to us that Canadians are confident our operations meet the highest environmental standards possible."

About the Canadian Hydropower Association

Founded in 1998, the CHA is the national association dedicated to representing the interests of the hydropower industry. Its principal mandate is to promote hydropower nationally and internationally as a source of renewable energy, to make the economic and environmental advantages of hydropower better known, and to publicize the benefits of hydropower in the search for sustainable energy solutions. CHA members represent more than 95% of the hydropower capacity in Canada.

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