Hydro could fuel Alberta’s future, energy leader says

One of Alberta’s energy leaders says a greater push towards hydro electricity could help fuel the province’s future.

At the Bennett Jones Business Forum in Lake Louise, the president of ATCO, a major Alberta utility provider called for greater investment in hydro dams over coal and natural gas.

“The vision would be instead of being completely reliant on natural gas as a fuel for the future, to utilize water in a way that addresses so many different concerns,” said Nancy Southern president and CEO of ATCO.

Alberta relies heavily on coal-power plants but those will be phased out over the next few decades, largely in favour of natural gas.

Southern argues emissions will continue to rise despite shutting down the coal plants, as the natural gas industry grows to keep up with Alberta’s expanding population, and that building hydro dams in northern Alberta would be a better solution.

“It does meet our climate change goals and it is an incredible, abundant resource,” she said.

There are several challenges to that push though — building just one new dam could cost about $6 billion.

There could also be an impact on rivers in the area and on lands belonging to First Nations or provincial parks.

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