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Documents suggest Alberta's renewable-energy pause not requested by AESO head


Internal emails show the province's seven-month moratorium on renewable-energy projects was a political decision and not requested by the system operator like the premier said it was.

Last summer, Danielle Smith claimed the operator was on board with the pause.

Newly uncovered documents show the CEO of the Alberta Electric System Operator (AESO) opposed the decision.

That directly contradicts what Smith told Albertans.

The publication The Narwhal got its hands on internal emails through a freedom-of-information request.

In those messages, AESO CEO Mike Law suggested the renewables pause would send a "closed-for-business message" and could drive investments into a "tailspin."

But when pushed, Law agreed to provide a letter supporting the decision.

The pause was a controversial one.

Smith says it was done to make the grid more reliable but those in the industry say it only introduced market uncertainty and drove away investment.

CTV News asked the premier Friday about her communications with AESO and never received a clear answer.

"There may have been some concern about the impact it would have on the investment climate. I understand that, too, but my concern is reliability, so we had to make sure we moved forward on that," Smith said.

CTV also went to the operator to ask about the province's pause.

A statement sent by Law says, essentially, the AESO CEO was only doing his job and now supports the policy direction of the government.

Many in the market were skeptical from the beginning.

"It was generally understood by most participants and stakeholders in the market that the pause on applications was not requested," said Vittoria Bellissimo with the Canadian Renewable Energy Association.

"We have seen evidence of political interference in our independent system operator," said Nagwan Al-Guneid, NDP MLA for Calgary-Glenmore.

The Opposition NDP blames Alberta's now-upended market directly on the policy.

"We have warned the government that this will have an impact on investments in Alberta, and we're seeing that in real-time," Al-Guneid said.

"TransAlta last week cancelled one project and is pausing three others." Top Stories

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