Albertans are about to find out just how messy and expensive kicking the coal habit can be – by Peter Kuitenbrouwer (Financial Post – April 10, 2017)

http://business.financialpost.com/

Eight years ago, Ontario passed its Green Energy Act. It then closed its
coal-fired power plants and signed pricey long-term deals to buy wind and
solar energy. As a result, the province that once had some of the cheapest
electricity in North America now has some of the most expensive.

About half the electricity Albertans rely on to power their smartphones, toasters and light bulbs, as well as everything else they plug in, comes from burning coal.

Coal is a lifeblood of the Alberta economy, as it has been across Canada for generations. But coal releases carbon into the atmosphere and contributes to global warming, which is why the province’s NDP government wants to eliminate it by 2030. “It’s aggressive,” said Gary Reynolds, an energy industry consultant in Calgary, about the government’s timetable to kick Alberta’s dependence on coal.

It’s also expensive. And messy. Albertans are only now waking up to just how expensive and messy the cost of going green might be, something Ontarians already know all too well. Eight years ago, Ontario passed its Green Energy Act. It then closed its coal-fired power plants and signed pricey long-term deals to buy wind and solar energy.

As a result, the province that once had some of the cheapest electricity in North America now has some of the most expensive. It would be a cruel irony if Alberta, the energy capital of Canada, experiences the same fate, but numbers tucked into a footnote in the province’s recent budget provide a hint of the pain that may be coming.

The budget includes a $2.3-billion charge to bail out a supposedly arms-length provincial agency called the Balancing Pool, whose role has been to bring power from the companies that make it to the consumers who use it. Last fall, the pool’s chair and a director resigned.

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