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November 1, 2016

New docs and timelines released by Wildrose show NDP misleading Albertans on PPAs

EDMONTON, AB (November 1, 2016): Today, Wildrose released new Freedom of Information (FOIP) documents on Power Purchasing Agreements (PPAs) that directly contradict what members of the NDP government have claimed in court documents (page 8) regarding when and what they knew about the PPA change in law provision.

The provision has existed for decades in power contracts under Article 4.3(j). A suite of documents that closely follows a timeline from June 2015 to October 2016 reveals that senior government officials have been misleading Albertans about when the 4.3(j) clause was first discussed.

“The NDP government’s move to try and break contracts has sent shockwaves throughout the investment community and these documents show clearly the NDP government is misleading Albertans about the intentions behind the lawsuit they have launched against ENMAX and other power companies,” Wildrose Leader Brian Jean said. “The implications of this lawsuit will be incredibly costly for hardworking families who are already bearing the brunt of other NDP policies rooted in ideology, not economic sense.”

An email sent on December 9, 2015 (pages 3 and 4) to the Energy Minister’s Chief of Staff and an Issues Manager in the Premier’s Office clearly highlighted the dangers of the PPA change in law provision. The email, written with an attachment titled “1209 2015 Potential PPA Termination – change in law BN” was prepared by the Energy Department for James Allen, the Assistant Deputy Minister of Electricity and Sustainable Energy. The body of the email states “attached is a draft briefing note that has yet to be finalized but I believe provides the context that you need for question period … Should something arise.”

Wildrose is calling on the NDP government to release in its entirety the Briefing Note drafted so Albertans can determine for themselves when the government first realized that they were in over their head on the PPA file that could cost Albertans hundreds of millions or billions of dollars.

“While the NDP government has been stating for months that they first learned of clause 4.3(j) in March 2016, the FOIP email from December 9, 2015 clearly shows that senior government officials in both the Energy Department and the Premier’s Office were aware of the impending termination of the ENMAX Battle River PPA on December 11 that specifically included the language of ‘unprofitable or more unprofitable,’ found in Article 4.3(j),” Wildrose Shadow Electricity Minister Don MacIntyre said. “Either ten senior government and political officials were briefed on December 9 and chose not to brief the Energy Minister and Premier on a briefing note drafted for them, or they are misleading Albertans.”

Timeline of Events

  • June 2015 – Amendments made to the Specified Gas Emitters Regulation made by Environment Minister Shannon Phillips changed the law increasing the tax on heavy emitters across the province
  • August 2015 – Minister Phillips announces the members of the Climate Change Advisory Panel chaired by Dr. Andrew Leach, announcing dates for consultation and submissions
  • September 11, 2015 – Balancing Pool releases report “Impact of Greenhouse Gas Regulation Changes” showing the changes to SGER may push some PPA costs above the expected pool prices. Specifically highlighted is the potential for termination under change in law provisions.
  • September 18, 2015 – TransCanada sends its submission to Dr. Leach. They note that buyers could terminate if policies are implemented before the expiry of the PPAs, “Depending on the timing of the implementation, the impacted parties could be PPA buyers (pre‐PPA expiry) or asset owners (post PPA expiry).”
  • September 30, 2015 – Capital Power sends its submission to Dr. Leach, including a section on the potential for and consequences of PPA terminations.
  • December 9, 2015 – ENMAX notifies senior government officials and political staff they are considering terminating the Battle River 5 PPA under Article 4.3(j). They are alleged to have informed Deputy Minister of Energy, the Assistant Deputy Minister of Electricity and Sustainable Energy and the Senior Policy Advisor to the Minister of Energy
  • December 9, 2015 – Senior government officials prepare a briefing note to respond to change of law clause for question period
  • December 11, 2015 – ENMAX notifies Balancing Pool it is terminating its PPA under Article 4.3(j)
  • January 27, 2016 – Balancing pool confirms the termination of Battle River 5 PPA “pursuant to Article 4.3(j)
  • March 7, 2016 – TransCanada gives notice it will terminate its Sheerness, Sundance A and Sundance B PPAs pursuant to Article 4.3(j).
  • During Bill 20 debate, Minister Phillips states she has read all submissions made to the Climate Change Advisory Panel, including submissions highlighting Article 4.3(j)
  • July 25, 2016 – Deputy Premier Sarah Hoffman announces legal action against the PPA terminations. The filing claims ministers were never made aware of Article 4.3(j) before the first week of March 2016