Funding under the Bioenergy Producer Credit Program is extended for five years until 2016. The program will help Alberta meet its climate change targets by reducing emissions while also providing value-added opportunities and long-term stability to Alberta's agriculture and forestry industries.
The program provides incentives to develop a wide variety of bioenergy products including fuels, power and heat, which will support the Renewable Fuels Standard to be implemented in April 2011.
Alberta's current bioenergy program treats all ethanol equally. The extended program focuses on the great potential for second generation ethanol, which uses feedstocks like forestry, agricultural and municipal waste. Specifically, the program will encourage development of new technologies and facilities that use non-food crops, waste biomass or wood.
'Extension of the Bioenergy Producer Credit Program in combination with the Renewable Fuels Standard positions Alberta as a leader in renewable and alternative energy,' said Minister of Energy Ron Liepert.
'Our US$150 million investment to date in bioenergy has the potential to leverage up to US$2 billion from the private sector. The program extension will help companies meet the March 31 application deadline for federal programs.'
The Renewable Fuels Standard establishes benchmarks for five per cent renewable alcohol in gasoline and two per cent renewable diesel in diesel fuel. As a result of this standard, production and consumption of renewable fuels in Alberta is expected to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by about one million tonnes annually. This is the equivalent of removing 200,000 cars from Alberta roads.
Supporting clean energy production is part of Alberta's plan for a strong economic recovery. The Way Forward will bring Alberta back into a surplus position in three years by trimming government spending; using cash reserves to protect key programs; continuing to invest in public infrastructure; and ensuring that our province's industries are competitive and continue to attract investment to provide jobs and prosperity.
In related news, the government of Alberta has directed the Alberta Utilities Commission (AUC) to gather information on three key initiatives to enhance conservation, development of green energy sources and the regulatory process. These include:
1. Review the regulatory approval process for hydroelectric facilities. Additional hydroelectric generation in Alberta has the potential to be a clean energy source. An efficient and effective regulatory process is required for new projects. The AUC's review will be used to find out what has worked in the past and what improvements could be considered.
2. Determine how smart grid technology can be used to modernize the electricity system. To move forward on the use of this technology in the province, a full range of options for smart grid needs to be considered. Smart grid technology can include smart metering or Advanced Metering Infrastructure.
3. Review the rules for the regulation of consumer choices for both natural gas and electricity. Albertans have the option of choosing a regulated rate for both electricity and natural gas energy service. Consistent rules for how these rates are regulated will add to the tools that help Albertans make informed choices.
The AUC reviews will be conducted over the next year.