Alberta will still use coal power despite NDP efforts

NDP early coal phase out: Good or bad policy?

In a previous article I addressed the need for governments to make good policy decisions that:

• have an aspirational goal,

• consider and reflect public thought,

• at the very least do no harm,

• and establish an economic environment that will create jobs.

Here is one example of how a bad policy decision has hurt Albertans.

During its term in government the NDP with little to no consultation fast tracked the phase out of coal.

Now there is no doubt that this new plan to replace coal generated electricity with renewable energy and natural gas was an aspirational goal but did it reflect public thought, do no harm and create jobs?

Within the electrical industry the phase out of coal resulted in electrical chaos, lost jobs, stranded assets and the taxpayer on the hook for at least $1.7 billion dollars in payouts to the electrical companies.

The County of Parkland believes that this decision has resulted in a loss of 25-30 per cent of their tax base, partially because of the loss of jobs in both the coal industry and the fact that running a natural gas electrical power plant needs significantly fewer workers.

Now that renewable energy is becoming an important part of the Alberta electricity story we must also come to terms with the fact that when the sun doesn’t shine and the wind doesn’t blow electricity is not being produced and an alternate source of energy must be found.

Alberta is tied into a continental electricity distribution grid that connects us to the rest of Canada and the United States.

So where do we receive the electricity we need when the sun doesn’t shine or the wind doesn’t blow?

Some of it comes from the Alberta-Montana tie in line.

How does Montana produce much of their electrical energy? Coal.

So we find ourselves in the position where rather than producing electricity in Alberta, creating jobs and wealth and a larger tax base this government would prefer to buy from Montana, create jobs in Montana.

The result is what we call bad policy that hurts Albertans and can’t even make the claim that we are sacrificing jobs for the environment because the carbon is still being produced by carbon leakage into Montana from plants that are less efficient than in Alberta.

This is just one clear example of how bad policy hurts everyday Albertans and why we need to be careful in crafting policy and in choosing governments as we move in to 2019.

Mark Smith is MLA for the Drayton Valley-Devon constituency and writes a regular column for The Pipestone Flyer.

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