Tuesday September 10, 2024

Markets vs. Public Power Systems: Meeting Canada’s Net-Zero Electricity Goals

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Alberta’s deregulated electricity grid is unique in Canada, with a market-based system that has helped spur the fastest deployment of low-cost renewables in the country. Now, the Alberta Electric System Operator (AESO) has been tasked with renewing this system with the goal of providing affordable and reliable net-zero electricity to Albertans by 2050. Meeting this goal will require new private sector investment in electricity generation at an unprecedented scale and speed.   

Several technological options are being explored to do this: natural-gas-fired generation with carbon capture, small modular nuclear reactors, wind, solar and energy storage. But an even bigger question remains: Is a market-based electricity system a dependable way to reach the province’s net-zero ambitions? How did this complex electricity grid come to be, and is it set up to make Alberta the tortoise or the hare in the national race to decarbonize grids?  

Join us for a debate on the potential and pitfalls of market systems to meet electricity affordability, reliability, and emissions goals. 


Jane McDonald

Board Member

Jane McDonald is the Vice President of Climate and Nature Solutions. Previously, she led two of Canada’s major sustainable economy think tanks, Smart Prosperity and the International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD). She is a member of Canada’s Generation Energy Council, which produced the first energy vision for Canada consistent with the country’s climate goals, and the Farmers for Climate Solutions Task Force. She is a Director of The Transition Accelerator, and a delegate to the Net-Zero Data Public Utility, the world’s first global repository for private sector climate transition-related data freely accessible to all.

Jane began her career in the private sector, launching new environmental markets at New York investment bank Cantor Fitzgerald where she brokered some of the first-ever carbon credit deals between large energy companies and international projects. She then directed a successful advocacy effort to have renewable electricity from major Canadian utilities included in President Obama’s Clean Power Plan.

From 2015-2106 she served as Policy Director in the office of Canada’s Minister of Environment and Climate Change, through the signing of the Paris Agreement, the adoption of a national climate strategy and the implementation of a national price on carbon pollution.

In 2020, she joined an independent group of Canadian finance, policy and sustainability leaders who formed the Task Force for a Resilient Recovery, publishing a roadmap for a long-term COVID recovery strategy to keep Canada competitive in the fast-growing global clean economy.

Outside of her work, Jane has taught as an Adjunct Professor of Environmental Finance at the University of Toronto, served on the board of many non-profits, is a 2007-2008 Action Canada Fellow and a 2024 winner of the Clean50 Award.



Sara Hastings-Simon

Sara Hastings-Simon

Associate Professor, School of Public Policy, University of Calgary

Dr. Sara Hastings-Simon is an associate professor in the department of Earth, Energy and Environment, and School of Public Policy at the University of Calgary. She is a macro energy system researcher and her work is focused on building better quantitative and qualitative understandings of large-scale, systems-level, and long-term elements of energy systems to enable decarbonization.

Sara is also co-founder and co-host of Energy vs Climate a webinar and podcast that explores the energy transition in Alberta, Canada, and beyond. She is a member of the expert panel for Clean Growth with the Canadian Climate Choices Institute and a member of the board of directors of the Pembina Institute.

Her previous roles include Director of Clean Economy at the Pembina Institute, founder of Business Renewable Centre Canada, and practice manager for Clean Technologies at McKinsey & Company. Dr. Hastings-Simon holds a PhD in physics from the University of Geneva.

Edgardo Sepulveda

Edgardo Sepulveda

Independent Economist, Telecoms and Electricity

Edgardo Sepulveda is a regulatory economist with more than thirty years of experience in the telecommunications and electricity sectors. He has advised Governments, regulatory agencies, companies, unions and consumer advocates in more than forty countries (esepulveda.com).

He has written on electricity issues at the Progressive Economics Forum (progressive-economics.ca/author/edgardo-sepulveda/), for the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (policyalternatives.ca/authors/edgardo-sepulveda) and in his Profiles in Decarbonization web-site (edecarb.org).

Born in Chile, Edgardo is fluent in English and Spanish and has a good working knowledge of French. He received his B.A. (Honours) from the University of British Columbia and his M.A. from Queen’s University, both in Economics. He established Sepulveda Consulting Inc. in 2006.



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