Hello Chestermere! I hope you are enjoying the fresh snow and you are snow tire ready. It has been a historic week at the legislature. We learned a couple of key points about our government and I would like to take some time to share my opinions and thoughts with you on some specific issues. Let’s start with some updates on Bill 27, the Renewable Energy bill. Last week we learned about how this bill is going to impact our life as far as utility debt in this province (which is presently zero). Once this bill passes and make no mistake about it, it will pass, you will be on the hook for electricity both as a tax payer and as a rate payer. As renewables make their way into the grid, you will pay for new infrastructure, new builds, stranded assets, and the bureaucracy needed to run it. We were extremely disturbed to learn that our government also intends that the Independent System Operator (ISO) hold security in a renewable power generator. Don MacIntyre, Wildrose Shadow Minister for electricity and renewables and a genuine expert, says he’s not being a cynic but a list of failed wind and solar companies he’s compiling “would make your hair curl.” The ISO’s responsibility is to make sure we have safe, reliable and economic operation of Alberta’s power grid and to allow for the competitive wholesale market, not to make investments in the NDP Government’s friends. Even worse, the NDP Government has taken away the power of the “electricity police”, the Market Surveillance Operator (MSO), to hold the ISO accountable with regards to complaints against them. So if there are any issues arising from the renewables sector and we as consumers have a complaint, now our only option is to go through the auditor general. This makes it very difficult to hold these companies or the ISO accountable. You may remember a few years back when TransAlta gamed the market to create power shortages during peak times, creating the threat of brown outs and charging Albertans excessively for power. They were caught by the MSO and fined $56 million dollars. You can see why we are concerned that their investigatory powers are being hamstringed. Curiously, the words “fair” and “responsible” were removed from the Independent System Operator’s mandate. Who removes these words from legislation? Nobody with your best interests at heart! Now they are going to hold security in a renewable company, and “fair” and “responsible” are not part of their mandate. This is outrageous.
Debate on Bill 25 (the 100 megaton cap on Oilsands emissions) brought some interesting tidbits forward as well. You are probably aware that Prime Minister Trudeau finally agreed to the Transmountain Pipeline expansion and the upgrading of line 3 last week. This was great news for sure, but fell short as Northern Gateway was necessary to get Alberta its needed capacity. The provincial government while taking credit for this necessary infrastructure that is in the national interest is trying now not only to keep our oil in the ground by restricting our ability to develop the oilsands, but has also put a 10 megaton cap on our ability to upgrade as well. This upgrading makes our bitumen flow in a pipeline, increases the amount of bitumen we can put in a pipeline, saves us from putting expensive petrochemicals in our bitumen, creates jobs, and we are environmentally speaking the best in the world. By capping this important step we just end up sending our product down the pipeline and having some other jurisdiction upgrade us to synthetic crude in a less environmentally sensitive manner as well as losing the jobs and the ability to keep the expensive condensates out of the pipeline. I honestly don’t know what to think. We tried to get the NDP Government to see reason to no avail. Once again, NDP ideology trumps sound economics and common sense.
You may have also seen the Facebook post of my Member’s Statement about the decorum in the legislature. The Government it seems feels that our Wildrose MLA’s were noticeably louder when the females on the government side were speaking. This would be laughable except that the Minister of Advanced Education who made this erroneous statement is by far my loudest heckler. And honestly I have never had an issue with it until he made this ridiculous statement. How unbelievably hypocritical, especially from him. I hope we are being judged on our ability and not our gender. For a government that preaches inclusion, this was extremely divisive. Everyone makes mistakes from time to time, and a sincere apology goes a long way. It is too bad the Minister for Advanced Education lacks the ability to do so.
Nicole Johnson, one of my assistants in the Constituency Office, has left us for new challenges at CUI. Good Luck Nicole! Many of you know Nancy McElroy who is settling in as her replacement. It’s good to have you on board, Nancy. As always, we love to hear from you.