​Why this renewable energy CEO supports pipelines

Image: Dan Balaban/Twitter

For Dan Balaban, founder and CEO of wind and solar developer Greengate Power, it’s not an “either/or decision” about whether Canada should pursue renewables and fossil fuels. It’s an “and.”

That’s why Balaban has been stepping out recently to express support for the Trans Mountain Pipeline Expansion. He’s also questioning the controversial Bills C-69 and C-48, which became law in Canada last week.

C-69 will overhaul the regulatory process for major energy projects, while C-48 bans tanker traffic off B.C.’s north coast.

Greengate currently has more than 950 MW of wind and solar power projects under development.

One of these is Travers Solar, located in Vulcan County, Alberta. At 400 MW of capacity, it is expected to be one of the largest solar power projects in North America. Greengate says a final investment decision is expected in 2019, with commercial operations in Q4/2021.

“In Alberta, we’re very fortunate to have some phenomenal fossil fuel resources, and we also have phenomenal renewable energy resources,” Balaban told JWN.

He adds that “it’s an interesting set of politics that are going on right now,” with the positive news for oil and gas in the Trans Mountain approval followed by the passage of the two bills, which “don’t seem to be as friendly” to the industry.

“I think we really need to find a reasonable approach to balance both our environmental responsibility and our economy, and I don’t believe that Bill C-69 and Bill C-48 strike that appropriate balance. I think those definitely need to be reconsidered and the amendments proposed should be considered,” he said.

The Trans Mountain approval “absolutely makes sense,” Balaban added.

“The reason that I’m supportive of the pipelines in general is because I believe that they are ultimately better for the environment than the alternative. The alternative in Canada is to ship oil by rail. Shipping oil by rail is costlier it is more dangerous, and it is more emissions intensive.

“The other thing is it’s really a matter of global oil market share, and continuing to oppose pipelines in Canada for Canadian oil is just going to transfer that production somewhere else.

“Ultimately if it’s not produced in Canada it’s going to be produced by countries that don’t have the same safety record, don’t have the same human rights record, are far less environmentally regulated and oftentimes are outright hostile to our interests.

“I believe that while the world is continuing to use oil, it should be using Canadian oil.”