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30 Fairmont Park Lane S
Lethbridge, AB T1K 7H7
Phone: (403) 328-1704
Monday, November 30, 2015
The Editor
The Lethbridge Herald
P.O. Box 670
Lethbridge, AB, T1J 3Z7 

Waging war on climate change with your wallet 

Environment Minister Philips hosted a dramatic presentation on Sunday, November 22, at which Premier Notley introduced Alberta’s new “Climate Leadership Plan.” They were surrounded by representatives of environmental organizations and the energy industry, all seemingly delighted to join the war on climate change. If you missed this self-congratulatory announcement, it can be found on the Climate Leadership website. 

The main thrust of the climate-fighting plan is an economy-wide “price on carbon” already widely called a “carbon tax” which could provide funding for health, education and infrastructure services we need. However, our government says it will be “doubling down” and using these funds to establish “green energy” programs similar to those implemented in other jurisdictions. History shows they have caused electricity rates to soar in other provinces and countries.  There are many schemes outlined in the “Plan” which warrant in-depth evaluation. Let’s start by considering just one – the proposed phase-out of electricity generated from coal by 2030. 

Premier Notley indicated that two thirds of coal-based electricity will be replaced mainly with wind power and natural gas providing the remainder.  She anticipated that 30 per cent of electricity would come from renewables by 2030. 

 How much wind generation capacity would be needed to achieve this goal and how much would it cost? Alberta Energy has reported publically that electricity from coal totaled 44,442 GWh in 2014. Wind’s replacement share is thus 29,628 GWh. Wind power capacity in 2014 was 1,459MW and it produced 3,471 GWh of electricity.  Extrapolation indicates we will need 6,200 new wind turbines of 2MW capacity each by 2030.  

Based on industry figures of $2,000/kW of rated capacity (Black Spring Ridge windfarm), the total cost will be $25 billion for new wind turbines, plus many billions more for transmission system expansion to gather the wind and distribute it to customers. Still more gas turbine installations will be needed to provide electricity when winds are weak or non-existent. It is easy to see that the total cost of this transformation away from coal based electricity will be astronomical. 

Who will pay for this war on climate change? Albertans!  Watch your wallets.


Yours truly,


Duane Pendergast



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