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.

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:

Saskatchewan’s Biggest Net Loss

How did Postmedia manage to let this Hanley column sneak into its pages? Mandryk got his shots in at Cenovus and Wall already too. SaskWind has provided a breath of fresh air to Saskatchewan political analysis also.

I expect Canadians would want to know whether their tax dollars are being used to subsidize the oil industry.

But as SaskPower says, beyond the question of costs, CCS technology provides a major benefit: It allows us to continue to use cheap and plentiful fossil fuels to provide base load power while reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

Carbon capture
[photo added]

Actually, that’s debatable [link added]. Remember, the net result of the project is increased recovery of oil, which emits greenhouse gases in production and combustion. One analysis, Life Cycle Inventory of CO2 in an Enhance Oil Recovery System published in Environmental Science and Technology, shows that the CCS-EOR cycle remains a substantial source of greenhouse gases.

The IPCC, the UN climate science panel, is quite clear about the need to leave the vast majority of proven fossil fuel reserves in the ground in order to mitigate extreme climate change. So why subsidize the fossil fuel industry?

This is much bigger than the smart meter fiasco.

The public deserves answers.

ADDED (waste):

People’s Climate March

On Sunday I attended a climate rally in Regina with what looked to be well over a hundred other people.

Peoples Climate March

It’s too bad more of the 33,400 Rider fans in attendance didn’t make the People’s Climate March a priority for their pre-game activity. Listening to the crowd at the Legislature though, it’s apparent there are plenty of people in oil country who are afraid to speak out against the industries ruining their water tables and flooding their towns with oil money. Who would they speak to anyway? Some local papers won’t publish stories of oil spills a journalist told me in 2010. Bad for business. And Postmedia owned papers are in cahoots with CAPP. That makes it all the more amazing that Murray Mandryk managed to write a fairly critical piece on McMillian bolting from Wall’s government to work on the private side of the oil lobby sector. McMillian perhaps exhausted his public oil deeds.

You probably want to read this about oil lobbying in Canada. Look who is sitting with criminal Bruce Carson? Oh, it’s just the Premier of Alberta.

Peoples Climate March

The Premier makes a little cameo appearance in this short film of the Climate March. Bring ‘Em Out.

A Plan Designed To Fail Is No Plan At All #skpoli

“While it’s not immediately clear what impact the Obama (climate change) plan will have on the province, the government of Saskatchewan has taken measures to address the greenhouse gas issue through the development of programs and policies that will reduce our CO2 emissions,’ Wall said. “We have our (GHG) emissions reduction targets and continue to work toward them.”

Wall’s government’s plan is to reduce emissions to 20% below 2006 levels by 2020. Any climatologist could tell you this is totally insufficient to arrest climate change. The Kyoto protocol to reduce GHG to below 1990 levels, is arguably insufficient also, and there was a lot less carbon going into the atmosphere in 1990 than in 2006.

In fact, the destined-to-fail SaskParty plan is based on the equally political and unscientific Conservative [Not] Made In Canada (TM) lack-of-plan in Ottawa. That’s why all of the numbers are 20-20-20, they are a propaganda gimmick, not a scientific reality to “address the greenhouse gas issue”. They are ‘addressing it’ by reassuring the casual observer into a false sense of security, to trick people into thinking their leaders have the problem under control when in fact it’s totally mismanaged.

If you Do The Math, you’d want serious action from our government.

Do The Math – English subtitles from 350.org on Vimeo.

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Wall’s Leaky Logic

Brad Wall went to Washington in order to pitch the Keystone XL pipeline project. In doing so, he made some really absurd claims, that CTV failed to juxtapose against the scientifically accurate situation that Wall mischaracterized. Joe Oliver of the Conservatives has also been making totally absurd claims about Canada’s environmental track record under his government’s [lack of] leadership.

“Saskatchewan’s environmental record is not good.” – Global TV news clip from 2009.

It’s totally irresponsible journalism by the Canadian Press to allow the Premier to make the opposite claim without also clarifying his remarks, or offering the comments from someone with a factual response to his fiction.

Here’s the economic case, here’s the energy security and oh, by the way, we care about the environment and here’s what we’re doing with respect to the environmental piece of this.”
“We need to indicate that we’re serious about the environment, because we are,”{… delusional or two faced, I must add.}

This was a horrendously unbalanced CP article. Experts can refute the “Conservative” premier’s claims that Sask. can care about climate change while pushing the carbon-budget-obliterating KXL pipeline project.

Wall’s claim is analogous to a captain saying that he’s serious about keeping a ship afloat by plugging a hole in starboard side, while boring a bigger hole in the port side. It doesn’t matter if water intake is reduced in one side, if the ship’s still getting flooded.

The premier added he’s confident Keystone will soon be approved, particularly following the U.S. State Department’s draft environmental assessment of the pipeline that was dismissive of many of the environmental movement’s concerns about it.

That State Dept. report was actually written by a KXL friendly contractor, we soon later learned. Hard to believe Wall didn’t know the integrity of the report is in doubt. What is not in doubt among scientists is the potential carbon from the tar sands, when burned, will far surpass the carbon budget our climate could possibly withstand for a less than 2 degree change in our climate’s temperature.
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Oiled Up

There’s a suspicious situation uncovered at the UofR, by CBC. IPAC, the CO(2) CCS project was audited, and there were apparent conflicts of interest in how some of the money was spent. The report stopped short of saying there was crime, but implied there was the possibility of it.

Only last week I saw a CCTV ad for IPAC-CO2 appear out of nowhere, and I was unfamiliar with the logo they used until I spelled it out and realized it must be for the CCS project. This is the “heart of the Saskatchewan Party’s plan to tackle climate change”, according to Geoff Leo of CBC.

CVI is an IT provider, but they were getting over half of the budget. “There was no set of deliverables.”

One apparent conflict of interest, was Malcolm Wilson for a time being on the board of CVI. He reportedly returned shares so as to not profit from the work.

The Sask Party Minister for CIC, Donna Harpauer said “it’s a conflict of interest”. Wilson, through his lawyer told CBC that when the facts are all in, there was no conflict of interest. A Mr. Fitzpatrick, in the audio interview, said there was “no impropriety”.


Side note: I’ve appeared in a Global TV report years ago with both Wilson, and Brad Wall.

Shell, along with the provincial and federal governments gave the UofR millions of dollars years ago to pursue Carbon Capture & Storage at their test facility at Estevan. I’ve toured it; they were using North Dakota’s CO2 gas, instead of gas from the coal plant the test site is built beside. To that point, in ~2008, no gas from power SK production had been stored. I assume that remains the case.

Why would Shell, which has little to do with coal power, invest millions into this R&D? CCS has the ‘side effect’ of forcing exhausted oil fields into extended opportunities of production. In short, put the gas down, and oil comes out. We then burn that oil without using CCS, further limiting the net benefits of CCS.

There are presently 0 “clean coal” plants in production in the world.

The U of R, despite saying they are a “clean energy” research facility, presently has 0 solar panels in production, and 1 VAT windmill in research & production.

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