EDMONTON, Alberta, June 10 (UPI) -- Still reeling from wildfires that hampered its oil sector, Alberta's government said it was now forming a study panel to help with a low-carbon transition.
"Alberta is the only province in Canada without consumer energy efficiency programs -- that's not leadership," Shannon Phillips, the provincial minister in charge of climate change, said in a statement.
With that in mind, the provincial government said it was setting up an advisory panel to examine strategies for energy efficiency and transitioning to a more diverse energy mix.
In April, the provincial government introduced a new levy for consumer fuels to generate revenue to support the development of renewable energy and other low-carbon programs. Phillips at the time said the new levy would in part help put Albertans back to work and add diversity to an economy that relies heavily on oil.
The provincial government estimated the economy will shrink this year and revenue forecasts so far have come in at $478 million lower than last year. Lower crude oil prices and wildfires that raged through the region for much of May have squeezed the government's budget.
Members of Alberta's advisory panel will embark on an outreach program to highlight energy efficiency strategies that could cut into consumer bills while at the same time decreasing greenhouse gas emissions. According to Phillips, the low-carbon scheme could create new jobs in most economic sectors.
Earlier this week, members of the opposition Wildrose party said their constituents were concerned some of the measures introduced by provincial leaders would not work as designed.
Brian Jean, the party's leader, said the provincial government has "set Alberta down a path of further credit downgrades, more uncertainty for businesses across the province and an expensive new carbon tax to be paid for on the backs of Alberta families."