Oh boy, where to begin regarding Rachel Notley’s NDP government announcement this week that Alberta is suing utility companies for, in essence, a desire to be profitable.
Earlier in their mandate, the NDP under its leader Notley began messing around with the utilities industry in Alberta, all part of their climate plan. The climate plan that seems to be the most important job for a provincial government in Alberta right now. The recession and thousands of job losses are not the most important issues, apparently.
The NDP have been screwing around in the utilities industry pretty much since they’ve been elected, a premier and a group of MLAs who’ve been in power for a few weeks or months throwing monkey wrenches in systems that took decades to build.
The latest mess is related to Notley suing utility companies in court to have power purchasing agreements thrown out. More accurately, a clause of the contracts, completely legal and approved by a previous Alberta government, that allows utility companies to return power purchasing agreements to the Government of Alberta if new changes to utility laws make the agreements unprofitable. The NDP’s Jan. 1 hike or “carbon levy,” the Specified Gas Emitters Regulation, did just that. So several companies exercised their clause.
There is absolutely nothing wrong with this. Companies exist to make money. Period. The companies signed the agreements in good faith and the clause is a rational addition that shouldn’t surprise anyone. These companies have employees and shareholders, and there is no way any of them should be locked into a government agreement with no thought of what could happen in the future.
It looks like Notley had no idea the clause existed.
Looking fairly inept in this issue, the NDP provincial government will likely budget millions of dollars for a PR campaign, to “explain” to Albertans why a lawsuit to crush legal and proper contracts is unavoidable. Such a PR campaign is totally unnecessary. Judging by the story on CBC Edmonton’s website Monday, July 25 explaining why suing utility companies was the smart move and defending the NDP government’s ignorance of the agreements, it’s obvious Notley has a lot of friends at the CBC who can deftly protect her public image and can conduct the NDP government’s public relations campaigns for free. That’s a good deal for Alberta taxpayers.
“The province is going to court to prevent some of Alberta’s biggest power companies from using what the government calls a secret and illegal clause that allows them to abandon agreements — worth up to $2 billion — to purchase power from coal-fired power plants,” noted the CBC. The taxpayer-funded media outlet also went to great lengths in the article to connect the purchasing agreements to Enron, the bankrupt U.S. utility company.
Whether the CBC is in bed with Notley and her NDP government is a moot point. Who cares? Change the channel is always an option.
By the way, the power purchasing agreements were no more secret than many other contracts the government signs and they are certainly not illegal as plenty of government work is done behind closed doors; local municipalities go “in camera” all the time, including when tenders and contracts are discussed. And rightfully so.
There’s no rational person in the country who should accept that companies in government contracts must stay put as the contract causes their demise.
The issue here is, again, the competence of the NDP government and how much thought is being put into critical decisions that could have disastrous effects on both Albertans, and companies working in Alberta for decades to come. It appears companies dropping agreements are a direct result of Notley’s bad decisions.
The lawsuit against utility companies seems to suggest Notley thinks she’s directing a scene in “Dr. Zhivago,” where the ever-heroic and infallible proletariat protest the evil policies of the Czarist corporations. Rather than accepting the fact that the proletariat took a wrong turn while on their way to the protest and walked right into a deep lake, the NDP are, of course, incapable of making mistakes and their traditional enemies, corporations, deserve blame for everything.
Opposition members were vocal. “At the end of the day the launch of this lawsuit shows the NDP government’s blatant disregard for covenants, business sense, respect for taxpayer dollars, and knowledge of how our electricity system works,” Wildrose Leader Brian Jean said. “The NDP government is taking on a lengthy and costly court case against an energy company owned by the people of Calgary. It just doesn’t add up.”
Even the NDP traditional ally, Alberta Liberal Party, wasn’t impressed. A Liberal press release stated, “Following the Alberta government’s announcement they were taking former Power Purchase Agreement holders to court, Liberal Leader David Swann has expressed his displeasure with both the regulations enacted by the former PC government and the failure by the NDP to understand the consequences of their actions.
“Swann also believes the NDP government should have done a better job of fact checking before making changes that affected PPA owners.
‘The current government should have been one hundred percent clear on the PPA contracts before making the changes which created this bizarre situation,’ Swann continued. ‘At the end of the day there are no excuses for being ignorant of such vital information.’”