Monday, October 26, 2009

Pen Meets Paper Oct. 26 '09

Opinion by Helge Nome
What is it about Alberta’s Bill 50 that is hitting a raw nerve with a lot of people? The bill seeks to modify existing legislation in Alberta in such a way that the ability of citizens to oppose the establishment of electric power corridors is removed.
It is probably the sheer brazenness of the proposed legislation that is taking people aback. Normal processes for questioning and evaluating a project are simply removed, putting all the power of making decisions into the hands of the provincial minister and cabinet of the day.
And in our so called contemporary “democracy” these people occupy their ministerial chairs by way of financial contributions to their political party from the energy industry.
So it’s Peter helping Paul to help Peter.
Bill 50 ensures that the Alberta Utilities Commission, where technical experts with professional ethical standards are involved in the decision making, is simply removed from the process of making decisions if the infrastructure involved is designated to be “critical”.
Who says it is critical? Well, the Minister, presumably, after his industry friends have put the word into his ear.
And the interesting thing now is that CEO Gary Holden of Calgary’s main power utility Enmax points out that local power generation, using natural gas driven turbines, would be the logical way to complement power generation when needed at a fraction of the financial and environmental cost of high voltage power lines from coal burning power stations in Northern Alberta.
Meanwhile, Altalink President Scott Thon maintains that the new transmission lines are essential in order to prevent electricity blackouts in Alberta. Not surprisingly, Altalink is the company that plans to build the lines and charge Alberta’s power users for their construction.
The unmentioned elephant under the table is that most of the power generated will go south of the border along this great new energy highway, paid for by Albertans and used to enhance the bottom line of the exporting power companies.
Ask yourself this question: Why did we, by way of our politicians, sell a perfectly good power generation and distribution system to private interests, so that they could turn around and rip us off in return?
The answer is pretty obvious: The wrong kinds of people get into political positions of power because the right kinds of people don’t step up to the plate.

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