Alberta NDP's green plan not likely to succeed


On Wednesday, NDP Environment Minister Shannon Phillips announced a plan to build 5,000 megawatts of additional “green” energy capacity in Alberta by 2030.

Be prepared to dig really deep into your pockets for this one. If the NDP are able to achieve this goal, it will only be because much of the $10.5-billion price tag is squeezed out of taxpayers.

Call it what you will, “alternative” energy, “green” energy or “renewable” energy, there is no place where these substitutes for fossil fuels work economically on a broad scale.

In Europe, for instance, governments have spent tens of billions on wind power. The NDP here are big on wind power, too.

However, as you may have noticed the wind doesn’t blow all the time. So despite subsidies of upwards of $40 billion to the European wind-power industry, turbines have managed to generate just four per cent of the continent’s electricity.

Oh, sure, you will often hear environmentalists and “green” politicians in Europe and North America trumpet the great success of wind energy in the EU. In theory, the forests of turbines that ring many coastlines and sprout in rolling farmlands can provide nearly a quarter of Europe’s power. But practically, they can reliably generate just four per cent – or less.

You never hear that reality from pro-green Europeans. And you won’t hear the truth from our NDP, either, after they invest billions of your dollars in thousands of turbines that fail to replace coal here.

At her news conference in Calgary, Minister Phillips was ringed by representatives of the alternative-energy industry, as if that proves the market will drive the Notley government’s obsession to “green-ness.”

It won’t.

There are lots of profitable alternative energy companies in Ontario, too, where the Liberal provincial government has spent over $40 billion in the past seven years trying to kick-start a no-carbon energy business.

But those Ontario firms are profitable not because they are good at converting sunshine, biomass or wind into power. They are experts at converting ordinary taxpayers’ cash into healthy bottom lines.

Phillips had almost no details of how the $10.5 billion here would be raised or where it would be spent. (Why think such matters through when you have no qualms about taxing Albertans to death and going into debt on a massive scale? It’s not the NDP’s money!)

She insisted, though, the effort would create 7,200 new jobs.

Put aside the fact that that works out to over $145,000 per job, about twice what it takes a conventional energy company to generate a new job. The true problem is that the NDP’s efforts will almost certainly never create the number of jobs they claim.

In Ontario, the Liberal government insists its Green Energy Act has created 31,000 new jobs.

First, the Ontario Liberals had originally estimated their efforts would produce 50,000 jobs, so even 31,000 is well short of the initial promise.

And, second, the 31,000 number is almost certainly a stretch. According to an independent economic assessment commissioned by the Ontario government, the true number of new jobs is closer to 7,000.

Moreover, the Ontario Libs never acknowledge the number of existing jobs their “green” energy efforts have destroyed.

Since shuttering its coal-fired power plants (a move being copied by Alberta’s New Democrats) and pumping billions into wind, solar and biomass, Ontario’s electricity rates have doubled. Over the same period, Ontario has lost nearly 150,000 manufacturing jobs.

Not all the lost jobs can be blamed on “green” energy. Still the net effect of Ontario’s alternative-energy efforts has been a loss of 100,000 or more jobs.

Alberta’s NDP is determined to replicate that disaster here, all while insisting their Climate Leadership Plan is a roaring success.

Lorne Gunter is a senior political correspondent and commentator for the Edmonton Sun. 

Story: Edmonton Sun