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In February 2016, we ran half page ads in the Calgary Sun and Edmonton Sun countering the people who want to stop the use of coal-fired power plants in Alberta, much earlier than the existing federal phase-out program, which is already in progress.
We asked – ‘Why would we close a handful of Alberta coal-fired power plants, when more than 2,000 are being built world-wide,’ mostly by countries who were at the COP-21 Paris Climate Change talks?
We said that industry experts thought that compensation to the coal industry alone would cost Albertans (i.e. YOU and ME) some >$11 billion. Here’s that source on ‘stranded assets.’
Above table: Estimate of valuation and ‘stranded assets’ of proposed coal phase-out in Alberta. Prepared by retired power generation industry executive for Friends of Science Society and based on publicly available documents for reference.
We also said it would cost more than $11 billion to transition from coal to equivalent natural gas capacity for Alberta. We got that information in 2014 from Evan Bahry, Executive Director of the Independent Power Producers Society of Alberta (an organization that represents all forms of power production, conventional, intermittent wind-solar, biomass, geothermal).
Here are his comments in our Troy Media article: “Benefits of coal-fired power outweigh nominal health risk.”
We are very concerned that the move to natural gas as an ‘entire’ back-up for the Alberta power grid could turn into an expensive and devastating nightmare. Although Alberta has lots of natural gas at low prices today, natural gas is a market commodity, subject to wild swings.
We do not like to ‘scare-monger’ – but practically speaking, the transition to natural gas is not in isolation. The US is also moving some generation from coal to natural gas. We in Canada are looking at LNG – Liquefied Natural Gas export stations to serve foreign markets. As the world demand for natural gas grows, prices WILL be affected. How will that affect us? Natural gas is a market commodity, subject to wild swings. Coal is not. And let’s look at how much coal generation we have to replace.
You can see above that Alberta’s total power generation in 2014 came almost ENTIRELY from fossil fuels – 55% coal + 35% natural gas = 90%.
It is worthy to note that Alberta has NO public utility debt for electricity because of our market-driven, industry financed market.
The Alberta Climate Panel advocates adding 30% renewables (wind and solar) to replace coal and the balance with natural gas. In reality, we would have to add 100% natural gas to replace coal because…. wind and solar are not reliable. Likewise, it is advocated that these would be subsidized to make them competitive. With your money. However, wind and solar may provide ZERO….or even MORE than 100% power generation. But you cannot predict this, and at present, you cannot store the power that wind and solar generate in a cost-efficient way.
So. Natural gas would be the ‘go-to’ 100% provider of power to replace coal.
The AESO (Alberta Electric System Operator) did NOT forecast this kind of ‘mono-power’ generation. (2013) They are experts in power generation and they keep the grid ‘on’ all the time. The AESO people know that you need a balanced mix of power generation and they know the power grid is very complex. Being dependent on a sole type of power can leave you exposed to price hikes or power failures. For a modern, industrialized society, that won’t do.
In our ad, we also challenged the notion that it is reasonable or appropriate for the government of the day to be putting some 7,000 people out of work and destroying some 30 coal-industry related communities!
Especially when the federal government had already established a practical, thoughtful schedule to phase-out old coal plants, and allow the new low-emissions plants to operate unimpeded to the end of their useful life and investment schedule (meaning NO cost to Albertans for compensation).
Please review our researched and reviewed reports and commentaries at the end of this post to understand the factual distortions and manipulations going on.
Based on our review of the evidence, there will be no perceivable health benefit to Albertans from closing coal fired power plants – to the contrary, as in the EU and UK many people will be pushed into ‘heat-or-eat’ poverty, resulting in MORE demands on a health care system that can’t afford to pay…because money will be diverted to compensation or wind-solar subsidies.
And in every jurisdiction we have reviewed, wind power is 3 times or more the price of conventional power for less reliability and more costs to the grid.
How novel that in the Edmonton Sun ad, the headline beside Quotes Don Cherry (on another matter) saying “It’s appalling.”
Edmonton and Calgary Sun ads
We have done a LOT of research and reporting work on this issue over the past 3 years. We did this because we look at the evidence over the ideology. (see below)
Albertans live in a part of the world that is very cold and dark more than half the year. Affordable power is a necessity. We have LOTS of high quality (cleaner burning, low sulfur) coal that is surface mined.
Meanwhile Denmark, the ‘bastion of green wind power’ imports coal at $60/tonne and generates some 40-48% power from….COAL.
Images courtesy Wikipedia creative commons. See credits in: “Post Paris”
So. Please review our reports, commentaries and videos.
Some of our work countering the anti-coal claims:
Burning Questions – short video overview putting coal emissions in perspective
2015 Report: Burning Questions
Coal phase-out debate (unedited) with Dr. Vipond at Speakers’ Corner Aug 23, 2015 ( 4 parts, content starts about 6:40)
2014 Report “Power. Full Benefits.”
The Case for Conventional Power Generation in Alberta.
2013 Report: “Renewable is Not So Doable”
2013 Report “A Costly Misinformed Diagnosis”
2013 Video presentation Dr. Benny Peiser “To Heat or Eat: Europe’s Climate Policy Fiasco”
Friends of Science Society’s 10th Annual Luncheon Guest
TROY Media Articles:
Doctors Nurses raise false alarm about dangers of coal
Benefits of coal out-weigh nominal health risk
What signing the climate targets will mean for you (Robert Lyman, energy economist)
Alberta Climate Panel too one-sided
Doctors in the Dark on Energy and Pollution
Activists use faulty data to condemn Alberta’s coal
Press Releases: (Many more available on PRWeb under “Friends of Science Society Calgary”)
Friends of Science Issue Video Statement that is Critical of Lack of Context in Alberta Climate Change Panel Discussions Questions Institutional Investor Claims