Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Albertans Left Blown' In The Wind

You Don't Need A Weatherman To Know Which Way the Wind Blows. Not in Alberta home of the free market. No rent controls here says our Premier. No changes in Building Codes till 2010. No need to revise our pork barrel health boards.

But Steady Eddie will keep a cap on wind energy.

Wind power advocates are unhappy with the Alberta government for suggesting that the current cap on wind energy in the province might be raised, rather than eliminated completely.

And not let Albertans develop their own home based energy to reduce their energy bills and produce locally based micro green energy whose excess can be put into the provinces utility grid. So much for his much lauded free market politics.

The Stelmach government foresees nearly doubling the amount of wind-power generation allowed in Alberta, even as the province remains the only jurisdiction in Canada to cap the production of wind energy.

Alberta's Electric System Operator introduced last year a limit of 900 megawatts of wind-energy generation, saying it was uncertain about whether wind conditions and patterns could be properly forecast -- something needed to produce a reliable stream of power.

The decision enraged wind-energy producers, which have thousands of megawatts in the queue. The rules made Alberta the only jurisdiction in Canada to impose such a cap.

"Replacing it with a higher cap is not a preferred option," said Robert Hornung, president of the Canadian Wind Energy Association. "A cap sends a signal that a door is closed, and for investors in the industry, that sends a negative signal."

NDP environment critic David Eggen, who's long been lobbying the government to axe the cap, said more wind power will help slash greenhouse gas emissions spewed by coal-fired electricity plants.

The Tory government's priority for building transmission lines has gone to the carbon-based energy suppliers, he argued, which has further hindered wind-energy generation.

"If these guys (the government) are free marketers, get out of the way and let the renewable energy groups into the market," Eggen said. "There are so many delaying tactics to prevent renewable energy from getting a foothold in this province."

Of course there never was a free market in utilities in Alberta. They are either private monopolies like ATCO Frontenac, or TransAlta, or they are publicly owned like EPCOR and Enmax.

The former being influential supporters of the Tory government and their boards are retirement homes for former PC cabinet ministers.

Deregulation was done for their bottom line not for expansion of alternative utility services such as wind energy or home based green energy production.

Wind energy companies are all private small entrepreneurs.

Cowley Ridge in southwestern Alberta is the site of Canada's first commercial wind farm. The turbines generate enough electricity to power 7,000 homes. When it was launched in 1998, 3,000 households were signed up. Now, it has more than doubled with each home paying an extra $7.50 on average for using wind power.
While big utility monopolies like TransAlta are a dumping ground for ex Tory cabinet ministers their coal and gas powered hydro monopolies must be protected by their pals like Eddie.

The provincial government wants to insure those who control the grid, do not face competition from independent johnny come lately's promoting green energy nor from home based micro energy production.

H/T to Pierre Trudeau Is My Home Boy


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