300 Years Is Bogus

Thanks to another letter writer, Michael McKinlay, I caught this opportunity to again offer a better future perspective than SaskPower’s current President has done thus far.
I’m writing in response to SaskPower President and CEO Robert Watson’s comments in the November 25th article, “SaskPower set to overhaul power grid“. In it he touts a “300-year supply” of coal, as he has since at least 2012 when he used that imprecise figure in a Financial Post article. Doing a wider search of the web, you can find unqualified people using the same “300-year” claim since 2010 in the UK and the US, referring to their own coal supplies. Key words like “recoverable” and “proven” are not present in Mr. Watson’s claim. Many reputable academics estimate world peak coal could come as soon as the 2030s. After that decade it barely matters if there’s coal available, because the cost will be going through the stratosphere.

A more prudent use of our remaining coal supply is to build an energy technology for the future. There are many renewable options for Saskatchewan, including wind and solar power. Our wind potential is significant, and our solar potential rivals the global powerhouse Germany, as we’re at a similar latitude and get even more sunny days.

I’d prefer the smart grid Mr. Watson talked about included plenty of solar generated electricity. A compelling story in the Star Phoenix on November 4th included engineer Brent Veitch who explained a $20,000 solar electricity system is already able to pay itself off in less than 20 years in Saskatchewan. That seems a smarter investment for homeowners, than to buy into Mr. Watson’s subsidization of a 20th century fossil-fueled grid.

This letter above appeared in the Star-Phoenix this past week.

Other “300 year” dinos:
blog.heritage. org/2011/08/10/industry-group-hits-back-at-anti-coal-rhetoric-from-bloomberg-sierra-club/
yorkpress.co. uk/news/8105357.Prescott_heckled_over_MPs_expenses/
order-order. com/2010/05/21/will-they-break-ba/

Another letter in the SP this week:
Not On My Dime
Here I am trying to enjoy Bill Haley videos on You-Tube, and I keep having to wait for SaskPower commercials that basically say little more than, “Hurrah Saskatchewan!” I find it hard to imagine any legitimate reason that a public utility with a market monopoly could have for advertising. Why does a monopoly even have an advertising budget? Are we in danger of going to another [producer]? If the point is to inform the public that our money is being well spent, it would be better to just let us look at the books and judge for ourselves. Eliminate the advertising department and pass the savings on to us.

I don’t know about other citizens, but I resent being fed shallow feel-good propaganda on my dime, especially when it interrupts my rock ‘n’ roll.

Devin Ens



One response to “300 Years Is Bogus

  1. This letter by James is great too!

    “SaskPower CEO Robert Watson was recently quoted saying that Saskatchewan is sitting on a 300-year supply of coal. By the same logic, it is worth noting that Saskatchewan’s wind resource will last for the next 500 million years.

    It’s difficult to visualize 500 million years, so imagine that time span represented by the distance from Saskatoon to Regina – 260 kilometres. On the same scale, 300 years would be 15 centimetres.

    It is also worth noting that SaskPower projects a three per cent annual increase in demand for electricity. If one starts with a 300-year reserve of coal and demand for it increases by three per cent every year, that reserve will be gone in 75 years. Children born today will therefore be alive to witness the end of our coal.

    Suddenly those 300 years do not sound quite so impressive. So perhaps we should put more effort into developing our boundless renewables.

    We could start with our world class and cost competitive wind resource, and increase our focus on solar and biomass as their economics continue to improve. We could build a balanced (and cleaner) electricity generation portfolio that we could be proud to leave to those who come after us.

    Isn’t that better than a legacy of depleted mineral deposits?

    James Glennie

    Saskatoon Community Wind

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