On October 11, 2023, the Community of Creative Citizens (CCC) organized the Public Summit: A Focus on New Brunswick’s Energy Plan. The event was moderated by Atlantica’s President, Michelle Robichaud, and featured a diverse collection of expert speakers covering topics for attendees explore the opportunities and challenges with developing a sustainable and innovative energy plan for New Brunswick.
Premier Blaine Higgs attended and delivered opening remarks, including the provincial government’s priorities for an affordable energy transition, which involves First Nation communities as partners. The Premier also noted that energy decisions should be driven by scientific debate, not political debate.
This event built on energy topics covered during the CCC’s 2023 New Brunswick Energy Symposium, which took place on March 15, 2023.
The future of electricity involves decarbonization, decentralization and digitization:
Innovative projects are already underway way in the province.
NB Power’s strengths include its transmission infrastructure, control centre and Mactaquac Dam:
The province is also well positioned to be the wheelhouse for Atlantic Canada and parts of New England;
Going forward, the utility will likely own fewer generation assets and instead sign more purchase agreements from private developers.
Provinces and states around New Brunswick have installed more renewable energy (solar and wind).
While NB Power rates will rise as the electrical grid is decarbonized, current rates are among the lowest in North America.
Wind energy is now the lowest cost to build new generation but cannot be relied upon solely in the province to fully decarbonize the grid.
There is no business case to build the Atlantic Loop today, but there may be one in the medium-to long-term.
New Brunswick has lots of energy potential from biomass, including using more agricultural residues, food waste and wastewater to make biogas (specifically renewable natural gas).
Heat pumps and insulation upgrades have been very popular programs in the province already.
New Brunswick’s energy vision (Spring 2023) includes:
Leveraging the province’s unique assets, location and natural resources;
Develop hydrogen and other sources of clean energy to build and attract new business;
Implementing small modular reactors;
Building clean energy supply chains to drive growth (energy cluster);
Growing economic relationships with First Nation communities; and,
Achieving both energy security and net zero.
New Brunswick needs an all-energy approach that and the province will develop a Clean Energy Strategy:
New Brunswick has a diversified supply of energy (including one of the most diversified electricity grids in North America);
Electricity demand is expect to grow with electrification and population growth;
Energy efficiency is important to help achieving electricity decarbonization targets affordably. So too is smart grid technology and other intelligent, innovative solutions to limit demand growth.
New Brunswick’s clean energy transition must be affordable:
Plans are consistent that energy savings and affordability programs must remain in place and evolve.
This is a time of disruptive and rapid change in the electricity sector, and the energy sector more broadly.
Government regulations and policies can encourage development, but governments must be more agile.
Economic reconciliation and partnerships are important to achieving the province’s energy goals:
There are several successful examples of these partnerships already in the province;
Trust is an important component of these partnerships.
First Nations are open to and interested in developing meaningful partnerships in the energy sector.
Social license is necessary to successfully decarbonize our electricity grid and reach broader energy and climate goals:
Ways to help garner social license for projects include a strong regulatory process, early engagement with involved communities, avoiding controversial development areas such as shorelines for onshore wind projects, shared ownership, honesty and education.