Alternative energy hits fiscal reality

B.C. government realizing that move to alternative energy carries a high cost, financially and politically

The hype surrounding “alternative” energy has gone strangely quiet over the past few months. Evidence that consumer energy prices rise astronomically as a result of taxpayer subsidies for wind, solar and “bio-mass” projects has something to do with green energy’s sudden fall from grace. A total of 800,000 Germans have had their electricity cut off as a result of subsidies for wind and solar power. These Germans can’t afford the new bill. The German government chose to shut down its cheap nuclear power plants after Fukishima, removing the country’s main source of cheap power.

In Britain, hundreds of thousands, many elderly, are officially in “energy poverty” and receive hand-outs from the government to assist them in paying power bills. Increases in British electricity costs are the direct result of the British government’s drive to be the “greenest” government in history. To achieve this dubious distinction, Britain embarked on a staged destruction of a cheap, reliable and clean coal-fired generation electrical gird. The replacement is expensive, unreliable and inefficient wind power farms, on-shore and offshore, all of which need to be backed up by diesel generators, none of which can supply adequate power.

Ontario Hydro customers are facing a 30 per cent per year increase in their electricity bills to fund the McGuinty Liberals’ scheme of green wind power replacing existing coal-fired generators. Spain is bankrupt as the result of a range of irresponsible financial policies, not the least of which was the government funding of the manufacture, retail sales and the repurchase from consumers of solar and wind power. These programs have all collapsed as the EU collapses, leaving Spaniards with high-priced green energy and a 24 per cent unemployment rate.

In the U.S., green Ponzi schemes Solyndra, Fisker auto and the Chevy Volt have dulled the lustre of the “green revolution” as people begin to understand that green doesn’t work and sustainable is anything but.

All financial information for these (and all other green energy projects) show there is no economic justification for these projects without huge, never-ending subsidies from taxpayers. In B.C. the subsidies would take the form of higher electric prices paid by BC Hydro to the developers. Consumers, in turn, are expected to make up the difference in the form of higher electricity prices at homes and businesses. This is the basis for BC Hydro’s push for “smart meters”. A differential electrical rate based on time-of-day consumption is the goal of smart meters. The increased rates for “peak time” consumption is designed to mask the intended consumer subsidies for green power projects.

BC Hydro notified green energy project proponents in June that it would not proceed with their plan to pay developers a premium for green power as proposed in the “Feed in Tariff”, part of Campbell’s Clean Energy Act of 2007. This is the act that brought us the evil Carbon Dioxide Tax and other questionable rules and regulations. With uncharacteristic candor, BC Hydro announced the suspension of the Feed In Tariffs as follows: “In light of efforts to minimize electricity rate increases, the B.C. government is not planning to proceed with the implementation of a British Columbia Feed-in Tariff Regulation at this time.”

BC Hydro and the Clark Liberals admit their efforts to distort the electricity market with policies meant to “stop climate change” would, by design, increase energy costs to consumers.

Christy Clark realizes her government is in deep trouble. So much so that she is prepared to jettison her deeply held belief in climate change and green energy. The last thing Clark needs now is rising electricity prices as a result of Liberal social engineering policies. It is unlikely that Clark has abandoned her green faith in the face of reality, but political pressure is forcing the Liberals to do in desperation, what they should have (and could have) done out of responsible leadership — abandon polices meant to change individual behaviour.

B.C. taxpayers will be the beneficiaries of this desperate policy reversal by the Liberals, but it may be a brief respite. If the Liberals continue their philosophical drift to the left, with brief spasms of politically motivated realism, such as postponing the FIT program, the NDP will form the next government. The NDP sees climate change policies as a conduit to impose their brand of redistribution and social democracy. Under an NDP government, we’ll all be green, and your electricity prices will have to rise to save the world. Adrian Dix will be able to thank Gordon Campbell for the means, and Christy Clark for the opportunity.




Mark Walker is the publisher of the Penticton Western News.



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