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.

Set Walmart and Target Afloat, Please

Monty Python was onto something with their sailing financial pirates, I think.
“Over 260,000 tons of plastic waste in oceans, study shows
Why buying dollar store crap will come back to haunt you and your grandchildren:

The scientists have stressed their estimates are “highly conservative, and may be considered minimum.” They only took into account the floating plastic garbage, disregarding the waste found on shores and on the seabed.

Another unaccounted for type of plastic is one that can only be found “within organisms.” Researchers believe that large portions of “microplastics,” less than 5mm in size, could disappear in fish bellies, thus entering the human food chain.

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.

Order Your Opportunities

My job, trying to change the world, is at least twice as hard as a conservative’s. I have to overcome others’ instinctual fear of change and new technology. Monday evening I proposed my condo board “investigate” using solar energy, if the association’s Winter expenses don’t exceed our budget. 2 Board members opposed the idea! The motion passed anyway, but why would someone oppose an investigation of saving money on electricity? They stated it was an opportunity cost. Let’s look how that claim stacks up:

They suggested raising property value by installing carpets as a competing example. If we spent $10K on carpets, property values rise, but owners never get that $10K back to spend again (except, potentially, through selling their condo).

Consider the other way. Buy $10K in solar PV panels. This will unquestionably raise property values. In ~10 years we have ~$10K saved through offset power bills to SaskPower. Then buy carpets & have both new carpets and solar power!

There is some sort of mental or political block involved to recoil from solar energy, and to even call it a “pipedream”, while it’s real technology available on store shelves and roof tops now. It’s no pie in the sky, but it may as well be if we make defensive reactions against smart changes that reduce pollution in our world and improve our energy generation options.

Dr. V. Shiva at the #UofR #EarthDemocracy

Dr. Shiva gave an interesting talk about how system we’ve built are being used to manipulate individuals in societies all around the world into valuing money over life.

SaskPower Carbon Capture and Storage Goes Online Late, Over Budget

I must print a “correction” to my piece in April when I reported that the SaskPower CCS plant was on time and online.
The plant went online late last month, two seasons after it was scheduled, to deal with an apparently surprise asbestos attack.

While the final costs are still being calculated, Mr. Watson acknowledged the project is over budget. Last fall, that overage was pegged at $115-million, or 9 per cent.

“The project aims to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by one million tonnes annually, which amounts to about 90 per cent of the emissions from the plant.”
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