For once, grudgingly, Premier Rachel Notley’s government deserves a little credit – protecting consumers from electricity price instability is something I’d like to have seen when I moved to this province over nine years ago.
The NDP government announced last week that price stability was going to be part of an overall strategy.
“Today (Nov. 23), we begin our work to create an electricity system that is more reliable, delivers stable, affordable prices to Albertans, and is attractive to investors. Experts tell us that our current ‘energy-only’ system won’t deliver the reliable electricity system that Albertans need to grow in the future,” said Marg McCuaig-Boyd, the NDP MLA for Dunvegan-Central Peace-Notley and energy minister, in a news release.
McCuaig-Boyd goes on to talk about the development of a capacity market.
It’s all very well to give consumers the price protection they deserve. At the same time, I’m all for the private power companies in Alberta, continuing to make much needed investments in new power capacity where and when required.
However, I am critical of the NDP government – and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau at the national level – for their plans to kill off coal-fired power plants.
By 2030, all the coal-fired power plants in this province will be shut down or emissions-free and the jobs that put food on the table for families will be gone for good.
Supposedly, it’s in the name of better health and “climate change,” and yes there’s 13 years of transition time. But that’s small or no comfort to those who depend on this industry.
While I don’t speak on behalf of the coal mining operation near Grande Cache, I want to know what right this government has to take away their livelihood.
I want the premier and the energy minister to go to their place of operations and look them in the eye and say that they will lose their jobs – and why.
Normally, when an industry or single-source employer shuts down, there’s a lot of shock and outrage against the announcement, and the employer.
Usually, that happens in the private sector.
But when a government stabs an industry in the back like this, where’s the outrage? Where’s the effort to unite and take a stand against those making the unilateral decisions from their executive suite or government office in Edmonton?
Moreover, if this government is serious about a stable electricity system for Alberta, eliminating coal-fired power plants is not the answer.
Continuing power diversity is the only answer to meeting this province’s needs. Coal-fired power plants have their place alongside hydro-electricity, solar power, natural gas and other sources.
And as a nod to environmentalists and health advocates, research and development into reducing emissions from coal should be expanded and maintained.
So, work with the coal industry; don’t kill it off and eliminate a way of life and employment.