SaskPower Says Bigger Is Better, Even Losses? #PowerToGrow

As a followup to the Star Phoenix’s article on the hugely expensive, and (public) money losing CCS plant at Estevan, comes word of further cost overruns. The overruns, in the hundreds of millions of dollars, would have been sufficient to buy Regina its Stadium II, outright, fix its pension shortfall, or replace its Waste Water Treatment Plant.

SaskPower has apparently been misleading people by saying we need coal for “baseload” power, when Saskatchewan’s abundant wind source, coupled with Manitoba’s hydro, could safely provide a reliable power supply to homes, schools, etc.

And it appears that viable, cleaner, lower-cost solutions are readily available. According to a recent New York Times article, the cost of utility scale wind energy is now as low at 3.7 cents a kilowatt hour (without subsidies), well under the price for conventional coal, let alone CCS.

Emissions-free wind energy could have generated the same amount of electricity as the coalfired Boundary CCS power plant at a fraction of the cost.

SaskPower argues that wind can’t replace baseload coal because electrical generation from wind is intermittent. But numerous studies have found that installing substantial amounts of variable wind energy does not require additional backup capacity.

All types of power generation require backup, even coal. All utilities, including SaskPower, have substantial backup supply. New wind capacity would rely on the backup provided by existing “idle capacity,” which in the case of SaskPower is about 40 per cent.

Most authorities agree that incorporating at least 25 per cent variable power sources like wind or solar is feasible right now, and many jurisdictions are doing just that.

But SaskPower seems committed to a fading 20th-century paradigm of large-scale generation using fossil fuels. The 21st century paradigm being adopted by progressive utilities involves a shift toward conservation, efficiency and multiple sources of renewable energy, often provided by private industry, and in some cases by thousands of small co-operatives and community investors.

In the 21st century model, the utility becomes more the manager of power supply, demand and transmission. This emerging model – which in some ways resembles the Internet – is more nimble and resilient than a traditional utility.

CCS is an attempt to keep the old model alive.

Premier Wall owes Saskatchewan at least $1,500,000,000 in renewable energy investment after gifting billions of dollars to Cenovus for oil development through CCS. It’s time to stop letting money blow through our fingers, and stop burning coal like we’re from the 19th Century.

Harper Has No Plan B

The Hill times regarding the recent plunge in oil, and unspent money on renewable energy:

Liberal MP John McKay (Scarborough-Guildwood, Ont.) said the report is evidence the government of Prime Minister Stephen Harper (Calgary Southwest, Alta.) has favoured Alberta’s oil and gas industry at the expense of other sectors.

“We’re not nearly dead last in climate change progress for nothing, we worked at it, and we worked at it by emphasizing the oil sands in preference to everything else,” he said.

“So when we have this impending oil deflation, the price of oil deflation, all of our eggs are in that basket and because all of our eggs are in that one basket, we’re just watching that basket sail down the river, and there is no plan B,” Mr. McKay said.

Harper’s “crazy” Comments

Here’s an impressive takedown of the Prime Minister’s “crazy” comments in the House the other day. Since 2006 he’s promised to regulate oil and gas. Now he admits that would be “crazy”. Harper is nuts, and a liar, and he’s our Prime Minister for another year.

SaskPower, How’s That 14 Year Test Going?

Head Office at Night, 1965

Dear SaskPower,

I’m interested in seeing the statistics regarding the electricity generated by the test panels installed on the Saskatchewan Science Centre, in the attached picture, and as mentioned in the below quote from your website a couple years ago.

May 2013 solar panels

Solar research:
In 2000, we installed a photovoltaic array at the Saskatchewan Science Centre for research purposes. Results showed that the cost savings realized from the solar energy system cannot effectively offset the capital costs for installation. As a result, this technology is better suited to niche applications where connection to the grid is uneconomical or when passive solar enhancement is desired. For the purposes of scientific demonstration, this project continues to be in operation.

At present (2012), solar power is not suitable for large-scale generation in Saskatchewan because of its high cost and low capacity factors.

Given technology has advanced somewhat in the ensuing 14 years, what is SaskPower’s present outlook regarding large scale solar on the grid? The New York Times, and Forbes note that large-scale solar generation appears to be a cheaper means to generate power than coal, despite its inability to provide overnight baseload power (barring some designs of solar power towers).

http://mobile.nytimes.com/2014/11/24/business/energy-environment/solar-and-wind-energy-start-to-win-on-price-vs-conventional-fuels.html?referrer&_r=4

Notable author Chris Turner says that installed PV costs in Alberta have declined more than 90% since 2000, without government support. What is SaskPower doing to capitalize on this fact, since less than 1% of our electricity is presently solar based?

Regina panoramic

Also see SaskPower’s earlier predictions.



Good news in Saskatoon
, unless the Council stops it from happening.

Janson Anderson, director of customer programs for SaskPower, said that, despite lost revenue, the organization supports homeowners powering their houses with alternate energy sources and that about 260 SaskPower customers across the province currently use solar power as part of the company’s net metering program. Despite dropping prices of solar panels in recent years, Anderson said there remain “significant upfront costs” in installing solar systems and so anything cities can do to ease that burden will help more people utilize solar power.

One way to think of this stat is that it takes the equivalent solar power of 50 homes to power ~50 gas cars.

Equipping 50 homes with solar panels is estimated to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by about 260 tonnes a year. the equivalent of getting 51 cars off the roads.

Who Needs Water Anyway?

A delusional remark in a CBC article:
“Canada, which has long been criticized for being heavily dependent on shipping natural resources to the rest of the world.”
Our Prime Minister, and Saskatchewan’s Premier spend millions, hundreds of millions actually, to tell Canadians and the world how many resources we should be sending elsewhere.

Estevan

Consider the stat from Gasland II, where about 60% of some wells’ casings are expected to fail within 30 years.
Naturally that stat is going to err on the sensational, but even the more conservative ~10% estimates are extremely worrying.
“Leaky plumbing on energy wells seen as threat to climate, water and resources”
“Serge Fortier has been trying for years to raise awareness about leaking wells along the St. Lawrence River. Nothing has been quite as effective as setting them on fire.

“The reaction came very rapidly,” says Fortier, an environmental activist whose fiery demonstration near Ste-Francoise has prompted the Quebec government to acknowledge it has a problem – one that regulatory officials are often not keen to discuss.” And industry officials play this ad instead of discussing the problem:
(The ad playing on the Gazette report is by TransCanada promoting their disastrous Energy East project. They claim “the more you know, the more the pipeline makes sense”, when they mean, “the more propaganda we produce you see, the more likely you’ll fall in line.”)

Basically our options are constant monitoring of hidden/lost wells that produce no more value, or STOP making new holes. Canada is making tens of thousands of new planned holes. When you’re in a hole the first step is to stop digging.
Severn Suzuki said it well at her UN speech 2 decades ago:

“People are going to die”

First Nations Financial Transparency Act:
Watch Pam Palmater put the Canadian Taxpayers Federation in its place. “We don’t even have enough money to have websites, how the heck are we supposed to post it online?”

“What’s non-essential on a First Nation?” Palmater asks Evan who is quoting the Conservative government. “We have suicides every day, contaminated water, we have a major housing crisis, food and security in the North that Minister A. (#LyingLeona) could[n’t] care less about. What’s non-essential in a First Nation? People are going to die, if there is not enough funding for health, for insulin, if there’s not enough food for kids, or heat in the North right now!”

Palmater explains the problem is the government is trying to embarass Chiefs who make 3rd-party income from non-federal funding sources, while Wudrick was on the defensive claiming the Conservatives’ law isn’t racist because they just want more financial data. Why don’t Paul Martin and Stephen Harper share their full private/personal income information then, asked Palmater.

You may remember the CTF talking head Wudrick from Blogging Tory blunders of the past decade.

Are Gore, Suzuki, and Neil Young Hypocrites for Using Oil?

No. They are victims of circumstance, and despite their wealth and fame, they alone cannot change ‘the system’.

A voice from the Facebook-sphere intones: “I appreciate your commitment and respect what you are trying to achieve but bashing fossil fuels while you continue to use them adds no value to your cause.”

Not true. As Shane’s made plain, there’s no means for someone to hop off the oil bandwagon, because we’ve built our society around it for generations. It will take generations to leave it behind (completely), but that isn’t an argument to stop trying. Quite the opposite, it’s time to get started in a more serious way than the last generation.

I’m sick to death of the people mindlessly attacking people like Gore, Young, and Suzuki for “using oil” while speaking against it. Obviously they have to use mass transportation and mass communication presently available to reach people. To command that they stop today, or be hypocrites, is a very thinly veiled attempt to outright silence them.

The Blue Dot Tour

There’s a particularly nasty and brainless bunch on Twitter who earlier this year said I should shut up because I owe my life to oil. Bow down, and tremble like them before thy oily god. They owe their lives to a stable climate and clean water, so why then do they work against the availability of those supposed ‘commodities’ while using what’s left of them? These same twerps are the sorts who claim that “CO(2) isn’t a pollutant because plants eat it“, except they’d never agree to be trapped in a contained environment with “too much” of it, or contemplate its greenhouse effect.

Here are solutions to the problems we all face: