Good morning, Mr. Chair and committee members.
My name is Sergio Marchi, and I am the president and CEO of the Canadian Electricity Association, the national voice of electricity since 1891. On behalf of our members, our submission offers 10 recommendations that we hope will be helpful to your deliberations.
Reliable electricity has become indispensable to a competitive national economy and a high quality of life. However, many of our infrastructure assets are reaching the end of their life cycles. This means that Canada needs to heavily renew its electricity systems. Specifically, the Conference Board estimated that until 2030, we will need to invest some $350 billion. Accordingly, our members have been investing aggressively, nearly $20 billion a year. Indeed, at least three of the top five largest infrastructure projects for the last decade have come from our sector, according to ReNew Canada magazine. This year, seven of Canada's 10 largest builds will be electricity-related. However, the current rate of projects is not enough, as we also need to adapt to new technologies, changing generation sources, and shifting customer demands.
CEA supports the creation of the CIB, the Canada infrastructure bank. If well designed and well implemented, the bank could be a strong enabler of electricity sector investments, as well as those in other key industries that are critical in sustaining our economic prosperity and future. In this regard, CEA makes the following recommendations.
First, the CIB should prioritize projects that align with Canada's clean energy future to help bolster transformational projects such as grid modernization, distributed energy, electrification of transportation, and emissions-free generation. This should also include green infrastructure projects, which reduce Canada's carbon footprint and make us more climate resilient.
Second, full and equal consideration should be given to the varied corporate structures of our sector participants: public, private, and hybrids.
Third, a bank board position should be reserved for an individual with experience in the electricity sector, given its economic criticality.
Fourth, all financing strategies, revenue streams, and de-risking mechanisms should be considered to ensure the greatest return with the least impact to the taxpayer. This will include equity, direct investments, and loan guarantees.
Fifth, early and ongoing consultations with stakeholders is key. This includes creating an advisory committee with industry representation, undertaking the first review before the five-year threshold, and codifying a transparent and efficient application process.
Sixth, the CIB should serve as a one-stop focal point within the federal government for speeding up approval processes.
Seventh, projects should be sought from all parts of Canada, thus ensuring regional balance. This is crucial to addressing, for example, the economic uniqueness of northern Canada and the participation of Canada's indigenous peoples.
Eighth, new innovative technologies should also be a factor because facilitating innovative projects is important, even if they may mean lower returns in the short term. After all, true innovation takes time, but good innovation pays off.
Ninth, cross-border infrastructure projects, such as transmission lines to the United States, should be eligible for funding, as they deepen our export revenues and continental GHG reductions.
Tenth, best-in-class examples of other like-minded banks should be studied and their practices emulated.
In closing, throughout our history, Canadians have well-understood the importance of looking ahead. Think of the great railroads of the 19th century, the highway, seaway, and broadcasting systems of the 20th, or the Canadian arm that extended mankind's reach into space. This has all been part of national infrastructure building, otherwise known as nation-building. Each time we did, it was transformative, uniting our country and laying the foundation for economic prosperity for generations to come.
Because the work of that nation-building never ends, CEA is hopeful that the Canada infrastructure bank will become another national instrument with which to help build a better and cleaner tomorrow for all Canadians.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman. This was a quick summary of a much lengthier submission around those 10 recommendations.