Nick Rosen | |
No grid here, dear

A vast bill for new electricity infrastructure will be paid for by Alberta consumers because industry will simply generate its own electricity rather than have its profits gouged by the power companies.

Two associations that represent big industrial power users are warning that escalating transmission costs will push pulp mills and petrochemical refineries off the electrical grid, and leave residential and commercial consumers stuck with a larger portion of the bill.
Alberta Direct Connect and the Industrial Power Consumers Association of Alberta say the $14 billion cost of proposed transmission infrastructure will “render Alberta industry uncompetitive” and prompt many to generate their own electricity on site.
“This will result in a death spiral of increased costs for remaining consumers on the grid, and a higher percentage of costs borne by residential consumers,” the associations say in a paper called Alberta Competitiveness: Impact From Transmission Costs.
NDP Leader Brian Mason presented the paper to reporters at the legislature Thursday to support his previous claims in the assembly that the spike in electricity costs this month is just a taste of the cost escalation that Albertans can expect in the future.
“Fewer and fewer consumers will be paying more and more,” Mason said. “I think this is very serious. This demonstrates what we have been saying that, in fact, the government plans to build $13 billionplus of transmission infrastructure is misguided, uneconomical and unaffordable.”
He called on the Stelmach Conservatives to repeal Bill 50, which removed the requirement for the Alberta Utilities Commission to hold hearings to determine whether all the proposed infrastructure is actually necessary.
Airdrie-Chestermere Wildrose Alliance MLA Rob Chestermere has also attacked the government’s decision to eliminate the requirement to hold an “objective, open and transparent” hearing into the need for more transmission lines.
He told the legislature Monday the government’s argument the new lines are needed to keep the lights on in Calgary are false because of an abundance of new electricity that has come on stream, or is coming to the Calgary area.
Energy Minister Ron Liepert rejected the opposition criticism and maintained the proposed infrastructure is required to maintain the Alberta Advantage.
“What we are doing is ensuring that we have the transmission in place that will guarantee that Alberta business will be competitive in the long-term,” he said.
Alberta Direct Connect executive director Colette Chekerda said some of the companies she represents will have a difficult time competing with other jurisdictions if their fixed electricity costs rise significantly over the next few years.
“If those same costs aren’t felt in other jurisdictions, all of a sudden your competitiveness position is significantly hampered,” she said. “That why some companies will explore other alternatives, such as on-site generation as a means to stay competitive.”
But that’s bad news for those who are left on the electricity grid because they will have to shoulder more of the transmission costs. “If someone goes away, it means the part they are contributing to now has to be picked up by everybody else,” Chekerda said.
Chekerda says some method must be found to defer the cost of new transmission because it isn’t fair for consumers today to have to pay for transmission for tomorrow.
“How do we make sure that consumers today don’t bear the full burden of all this infrastructure when it is clearly being built for many generations in the future?”
Sheldon Fulton of the power consumers association said 60 per cent of new power growth is being developed on-site by industrial users today, and that could increase to 70 or 80 per cent if transmission costs triple or quadruple as expected.
“It will be the customer that is left that will have the serious problem,” he warned.
Fulton said the transmission portion of residential bills is projected to increase by $20 per month by 2017.

A vast elctricity infrastructure spend, will be paid for by Alberta consumers because industry will simply generate its own electricity rather than have its profits gouged by the power companies.
Two associations that represent big industrial power users are warning that escalating transmission costs will push pulp mills and petrochemical refineries off the electrical grid, and leave residential and commercial consumers stuck with a larger portion of the bill.
Alberta Direct Connect and the Industrial Power Consumers Association of Alberta say the $14 billion cost of proposed transmission infrastructure will “render Alberta industry uncompetitive” and prompt many to generate their own electricity on site.
“This will result in a death spiral of increased costs for remaining consumers on the grid, and a higher percentage of costs borne by residential consumers,” the associations say in a paper called Alberta Competitiveness: Impact From Transmission Costs.
NDP Leader Brian Mason presented the paper to reporters at the legislature Thursday to support his previous claims in the assembly that the spike in electricity costs this month is just a taste of the cost escalation that Albertans can expect in the future.
“Fewer and fewer consumers will be paying more and more,” Mason said. “I think this is very serious. This demonstrates what we have been saying that, in fact, the government plans to build $13 billionplus of transmission infrastructure is misguided, uneconomical and unaffordable.”
He called on the Stelmach Conservatives to repeal Bill 50, which removed the requirement for the Alberta Utilities Commission to hold hearings to determine whether all the proposed infrastructure is actually necessary.
Airdrie-Chestermere Wildrose Alliance MLA Rob Chestermere has also attacked the government’s decision to eliminate the requirement to hold an “objective, open and transparent” hearing into the need for more transmission lines.
He told the legislature Monday the government’s argument the new lines are needed to keep the lights on in Calgary are false because of an abundance of new electricity that has come on stream, or is coming to the Calgary area.
Energy Minister Ron Liepert rejected the opposition criticism and maintained the proposed infrastructure is required to maintain the Alberta Advantage.
“What we are doing is ensuring that we have the transmission in place that will guarantee that Alberta business will be competitive in the long-term,” he said.
Alberta Direct Connect executive director Colette Chekerda said some of the companies she represents will have a difficult time competing with other jurisdictions if their fixed electricity costs rise significantly over the next few years.
“If those same costs aren’t felt in other jurisdictions, all of a sudden your competitiveness position is significantly hampered,” she said. “That why some companies will explore other alternatives, such as on-site generation as a means to stay competitive.”
But that’s bad news for those who are left on the electricity grid because they will have to shoulder more of the transmission costs. “If someone goes away, it means the part they are contributing to now has to be picked up by everybody else,” Chekerda said.
Chekerda says some method must be found to defer the cost of new transmission because it isn’t fair for consumers today to have to pay for transmission for tomorrow.
“How do we make sure that consumers today don’t bear the full burden of all this infrastructure when it is clearly being built for many generations in the future?”
Sheldon Fulton of the power consumers association said 60 per cent of new power growth is being developed on-site by industrial users today, and that could increase to 70 or 80 per cent if transmission costs triple or quadruple as expected.
“It will be the customer that is left that will have the serious problem,” he warned.
Fulton said the transmission portion of residential bills is projected to increase by $20 per month by 2017.

Buy our book - OFF THE GRID - a tour of American off-grid places and people written by Nick Rosen, editor of the off-grid.net web site

4 Responses to “Alberta power cos in “death spiral””

  1. Mike

    @James, google for microhydro… the most important thing is finding a site that can support it… the bigger the difference in height (the head of the water) the better… and the greater the flow the better…

    The biggest advantage of micro-hydro is that it is much more consistent over the course of the year and works better in the cold winters assuming it doesn’t freeze too much where you are…

    Reply
  2. Alex

    Sure, water turbines are an excellent energy producer 24/7, if you own land with water running at a sufficient speed and/or having a sufficient drop, but most people don’t, so they make use of more inefficient sources, like solar or wind.

    Here in the south-west, with 300+ days of sun, solar is viable. AC isn’t needed here as it is in the South and up on the East Coast – all I use are two fans in the summers of Albuquerque, and coming from a very hot & humid Houston, TX I’m very comfortable in this hot, dry climate – the thicker houses make passive heating efficient in the winter, so solar is more than enough to power your lights, a washer a couple of times a week, a computer, whatever else you have, unless you’re accustomed to running them all at once.

    The sensible thing would be to combine sources, if you don’t have water turbines. Those without fast flowing surface water might combine solar with wind if their power needs are high, solar feeding the battery bank during the day, the wind feeding the bank on and off day and night.

    But I believe the government would act to stop such a movement anyway if it became widespread, probably by mandating that you be connected to the grid even if you don’t want to be, with a monthly charge for the unwanted connection, and most people won’t bother to develop an energy system if a power connection is mandated into their house.

    Reply
  3. James

    How can we create electricity for ourselves!
    Please no solar crap!
    Interested in small water turbines!

    Reply
  4. Alex

    Frankly I don’t blame the businesses. Why should they bend over and take it? We should follow their example as well, and start generating our own energy as well, in large numbers.

    Here in the US there’s a movement to make rates and electrical rate consumption independent of each other, so that even if you cut down on your consumption, you bill will not change, and will increase often based on the perceived income needs of the utility companies & financial needs at the state & national needs.

    Best thing to do is stop being a captive consumer, and walk away from the grid – enough people doing so would be their nightmare though, and there would be legislative attempts to stop it, I’m sure.

    Reply

Leave a Reply