Calgary Herald, April 28, 2005
Electricity contracts dog Klein
Long-term electricity contracts may be the right choice for some consumers, Premier Ralph Klein said Wednesday, a day after saying people should tread carefully before signing one.
Klein said he had only been speaking for himself, and that customers have to make up their own minds.
"It's no different than buying a cable service or telephone or any other kind of service or commodity," he said. "You make sure that the deal is right for you. Now, the deal that is right for me is a regulated rate option." On Tuesday, Klein said the regulated rate option – which is set by the Energy and Utilities Board and is cheaper than the contract rate – will likely be extended when it expires in July 2006.
He was caught in a lie again, saying one thing and then after firmly removing his foot from his mouth and putting his brain in gear he realized what he had said. Or perhaps he just heard himself on the news. And all of a sudden his sage advice as Fureher to his Volk, is suddenly just 'a personal opinion of a consumer' like you and me.
What started this whole thing was the release Tuesday of the Utilities Board Report by the NDP a report the Government still refuses to release to the public.
The report damns electrical deregulation as a failure for consumers, the Volk of Alberta and a win for utility companies, surprize surprize.
The report rejects all of the electricity pricing options proposed by the Department of Energy. The list of government proposals “does not provide consumers with a fair choice” (p. 6), and is being driven by retailers who are “self-serving and disingenuous” (p. 6). The report lambasts the Department of Energy by stating: “Again, we note with great concern that consumer protection does not seem to be a criterion under the current consideration of the Department in determining its retail policy” (p. 12).
When questioned about the report Klein went on the defensive and made his comments as Premier saying that he would consider leaving regulation of the market, such as it is, price in place beyond this summer. Then his caucus got to him slapped him upside the head and said; "what are you thinking?".
On Tuesday, Klein said the regulated rate option – which is set by the Energy and Utilities Board and is cheaper than the contract rate – will likely be extended when it expires in July 2006. Energy Minister Greg Melchin said Wednesday that no decision had been made about what will happen with the regulated rate, but that they will know by the end of June.NDP Leader Brian Mason said the premier is giving conflicting messages."The premier and his [former] energy minister [Murray Smith] encouraged people to go into long-term electricity contracts as a way to avoid volatility and high prices in the electricity market," Mason said. "So now these people who've taken the premier's advice and are locked in to five-year contracts at the highest rates in the province's history, they're being told by the premier they made a bad deal."That kind of arrogance just takes your breath away." CBC News
The written report here does not do justice to the press conference recording of our Ralph having a hissy fit literally screaming at reporters that he was miss quoted. The froth and spittle actually managed to come through the speakers on the radio.
Royal Ralph's rant made Howard Deans performance look mild.
Wanna piss off King Klein? Raise the issue of Electrical De-Regulation and it being a failure and he literally has a spaz attack and goes ballistic. He did that after the first year of de-regulation when he was questioned in a rate TV interview where he began berating the reporter, turning red and blowing his cool on TV. Any mention of the failure of this pet project of privatization and Klein flips out. It's one of his few achilles heels.
Klein knows that Energy De-Regulation is a failure, and has no where to go since he painted himself into a corner defending it on behalf of his good friend; Steve West (who came up with the idea) and the folks at Transalta (who pushed for it so they could sell electricity into the US market).
Oh yeah former Tory Cabinet Minister Lou Hyndman is a director at Transalta. And current candidate for Ralphs job, Jim Dinning was on the TransAlta Board till this January. They pushed for the deregulation of electricity, in order to facilitate TransAltas sole ability to market blended electricity across Canada and into the the USA. TransAlta is the fourth largest private electrical supplier in North America. It's a Contiental player and acts like one at the expense of the Volk of Alberta.
Ah nothing like Tory politics to leave the Volk of Alberta at the mercy of predatory monopoly corportations.
Better that of course than the state controling the monopoly.
Rip-off rates and snake-oil salesmen
Electricity Hucksters backed by government; consumers pay up to 25% more
Here is another example of not letting the facts get in the way of the privatization ideology of the Alberta Reich.
Like the fact that electrical deregulation has increased costs to consumers both directly in electrical costs and indirectly by increased gas prices. The government de-regulated gas powered electrical utilities as gas prices were skyrocketing, this from a government that has only one resource gas and oil, another Tory duh'oh, that.
Then there is the fact de-regulation has increased the inflation rate in the province, which indicates prices increasing NOT decreasing as promised.
Alberta now has the highest utility costs in Canada.
While little old Medicine Hat the city in the South of the province has the lowest utility rates in Canada. Hmmm hows that, oh yeah they own their own utilities.
Now TransAlta who was the mover and shaker behind the de-regulation putsch is backing off.
Race to electrical deregulation in N.A. now in retreat, says TransAlta boss
EDMONTON (CP) - The race to deregulate electricity in North America has stalled, leaving power producers in an investment limbo, says the president of TransAlta Corp., one of the country's biggest privately owned electricity generators. Stephen Snyder told TransAlta's annual meeting Friday that the political situation is one reason why the utility is operating plants in Mexico where it has locked in 25-year, government-backed power contracts. "In many North American provinces and states the race to deregulation . . . has turned into a retreat," said Snyder, who is also CEO of the Calgary-based utility. "As a result it's not clear if new plants will operate under regulation, deregulation or partially regulated rules.
Funny that, its enough to make one Ralph.
KLEIN'S ELECTRICITY MESS JOLTS ALBERTANS
Saturday, April 30, 2005
: Backers cringe when premier talks tough subscriber only content
It's always best to take many of Premier Ralph Klein's comments with a grain of salt.
He has, after all, been known to "reconstruct" those public utterances that later prove impolitic or in need of "clarification" because they do not jibe with either government policy or the mood of the electorate.
And this week's verbal two-step (one step forward, one back) on electricity contracts, which saw the premier first warn Albertans about signing long-term contracts and then do his best to rescind that political faux pas, is a classic example of a process we have all come to recognize.
That having been said, no amount of reconstruction, clarification or backtracking will fix the damage done to the government's electricity deregulation initiative -- and in passing the much vaunted Alberta Advantage -- by the premier's jarring comments this week.
By intimating that (a) the regulated rate for small businesses and residential homeowners is likely to be extended beyond 2006 -- perhaps indefinitely, and (b) that it is buyer beware for consumers who succumb to the long-term sales pitches of electricity retailers operating in the province, he has managed to kick the already wobbly legs out from under the province's electricity deregulation initiative.
That, in turn, raises the question of whether a province where you can't be sure if your electricity costs are going to be manageable -- or predictable -- is a welcoming place for people to set up businesses, not to mention residences.
I expect that thudding noise you heard resonating through the streets of Calgary following publication of the premier's declarations was that of sales people at companies like Direct Energy, Enmax or Alberta Energy Savings, pounding their heads against their respective office walls in disbelief.