From the Sackville Tribune-Post:

The report examines the overall regulatory framework, planned infrastructure projects, and emerging natural gas opportunities and technologies.

Author Andrew Pickford contends in Gas Opportunities for Atlantic Canada that restrictions on the expansion of natural gas in Atlantic Canada could make electricity more expensive, less clean, and result in people outside the region influencing local energy choices. Pickford argues policymakers should quantify and publicize policies and regulatory decisions that drive up energy costs in the region and work to reduce this “Maritime Electricity Premium.”

“It is vitally important that Atlantic Canada gets the infrastructure and regulatory settings correct to support an evolving energy mix,” said Pickford. “Doing so will help the region put downward pressure on electricity prices, lower carbon emissions and ensure decisions on the future energy mix are made locally.”

The current debate on natural gas extraction, while vitally important, should be expanded to include local infrastructure needs to meet future demand at home and abroad, clean energy priorities, and economic opportunities for communities throughout Atlantic Canada, a region rich with natural gas possibilities.

By taking advantage of our domestic natural gas resources, Pickford concludes the four Atlantic Provinces would benefit from the twin developments of increased natural gas use as well as the major changes in the energy market occurring in North America and elsewhere in the world. Gas markets are in flux but the demand for this resource is predicted to grow. Current low energy prices are transitory and should not discourage planning since there are economic upsides at different parts of the cycle.

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AIMS is calling on governments, industry and communities in Atlantic Canada to expand the debate to include infrastructure and regulatory reviews along with the extraction of natural gas. “Natural gas is going to be part of any future energy mix,” said AIMS vice president of research John Williamson. “Natural gas is an abundant, low cost and clean energy source. It is also an environmental and economic game-changer. Its use in other jurisdictions has created jobs and revitalized economies while leading to important reductions in carbon emissions. As an added bonus, it has a tendency to reduce energy prices for domestic and business consumers.”

Other relevant points from Gas Opportunities for Atlantic Canada include –

Natural gas is an important transition fuel and a cost effective alternative to coal and oil. Given that world demand for natural gas is going to grow in importance and use, Atlantic Canada is in a position to benefit directly from this development.

Western Canada has embraced the opportunities natural gas development offers by harnessing new technologies and the region’s gas deposits. Legislation, policy, regulatory setting and political leadership in Atlantic Canada that restrict the development and transportation of natural gas deprive the region of jobs, economic opportunity, reduced prices to consumers, and tax revenue from gas royalties.

Atlantic Canada could benefit from the new and emerging technical developments – including Virtual Gas Pipelines, Microgrids, Microturbines, Fuel Cells, Gas Storage, and Floating LNG. As well, the Maritimes would benefit from the proposed LNG export plans which will create jobs in both the construction and operational phases.

Atlantic Canada is far from the only jurisdiction that has faced energy challenges and debates. The region should look to other jurisdictions, such as Western Australia, which have faced gas shortages and price increases and turned to shale gas as an alternative to expand investment, jobs and royalty revenues. As well, the positive economic benefits experienced in Pennsylvania should be considered along with environmental challenges and solutions.