Saskatchewan Needs a Real Change of Destination

Greg is making a good point in his latest column, but I had to throw in a Green campaign slogan into the title in good fun. The bottom line really is that the Sask Party is propping up the dying fossil fuels industry, while calls to divest from it are coming from around the world. There’s no stopping this change (for the better).

While the Saskatchewan Party remains bent on thinking small, any reasonable look at the world around us suggests it’s long past time for a big change in direction. And if if this year’s budget again fails on that front, then we should seriously reconsider who’s choosing our destination.

“study finds that the main barrier to achieving those goals is a matter of politics rather than technology or economic limitations.”

“We have the tools to transition to a clean energy economy; all that’s lacking is the leadership to put them to use.”
Greg is bang on, and I’m not saying so simply because I’ve been saying the same thing for years.

Given that there are about 410,000 households in Saskatchewan, we’d need about 3 Ivanpah style solar power plants to provide electricity to every home in the province. We can do it, and we should.

That’s me last year providing a real-world example of technology we could build in Saskatchewan to give every household renewable energy at a price we can afford. We can probably not afford to fail to build such a new system.


ADDED: Prebble and others show that Saskatchewan must turn to renewable energy to succeed in reforming our economy.

Premier Wall Takes Potshot at First Nations Leaders’ Pay #skpoli

The Premier said:

“It underscores the need for leadership at the local level, including — and let’s be clear — including on the part of chiefs and council,” he said.

“We also saw a report on the fact that chiefs and council in this province and right across the country get paid, as they should, for their services and some of them get paid a lot. You know, they get paid to make the decisions, to make choices on behalf of their members of their First Nation and protection and safety have to be at the top of the list.”

In response, FSIN Kimberly Jonathan sent out a press release denouncing Wall’s comments, saying they exemplified the “paternalistic approach” First Nations receive at the hands of the federal and provincial governments.

While I’ve criticized MLA pay in the past, it’s widely recognized that MLAs are not a group discriminated against by more powerful people, and are not at all systematically disadvantaged because of their culture and race. There was no need for the Premier to bring up the pay level of political leadership on reserves, because there’s no evidence it contributes to the economic situations in those communities. The Premier took a clear pot-shot at First Nations leadership, instead of extending a sincere offer to help solve the deadly problem of house fires. Clearly his instinct to badmouth First Nations people/leadership is at least as strongly ingrained as my instinct to oppose something the Premier says.

Meanwhile, The Premier gets paid to make the decisions, and protection and safety have to be at the top of his list.

And Now, For the TFSA Switch!

Following up my blog post of 4 years ago about Harper’s tax break for the wealthy are stories on CBC and elsewhere regarding the TFSA folly. The increase benefits only ~39% of Canadians who’ve managed to open such a savings account.

“Harper pledges to double tax-free savings limits – but not till deficit is beat
And you have to give him credit, he’s going to be right. Because he won’t be in office when the deficit is beat, a Conservative government doesn’t know how to go out of deficit (history shows they only go into them).

“TFSA limit could swell to $10,000 when Tories balance budget”
(FP article shows a picture of a piggy bank, which should be a flying pig instead.)

Balance what budget? Harper and Oliver have indefinitely postponed this year’s budget in part because Oliver is incompetent, and also due to oil’s somewhat unexpected drop in value.

When The Tories Left Office

I was too young in 1991 to put the news I was hearing into context. My family had worked for months on my Dad’s campaign for the Sask Liberals in Moose Jaw, and he’d come away in second place. Roy Romanow was the new Premier of Saskatchewan, and Grant Devine would soon fade into political obscurity as some of his cabinet and other MLAs would go to jail, and in the sad case of Jack Wolfe an early grave. Future Lieutenant Governor Linda Haverstock was the only Sask Liberal MLA in the Saskatchewan Legislature.

Soon, the new hospital in Lafleche was turned into a band-aid centre; babies no longer permitted to be born there. In the next four years, my school was closed despite it costing more to bus kids to other towns than it did to run the entire school in Wood Mountain. The railway was closed and ripped out everywhere near my hometown (but not through it, because of a clean-up bylaw imposed by the Village council). Rural Saskatchewan was both dying, and being killed. The NDP were in charge, and their eyes turned to urban Saskatchewan, as they shunned their rural roots.

In 2007, The Saskatchewan Party came to power. Brad Wall was the new Premier. The NDP faded from the scene, and wherever there was big industry, private or public, they got the support of the government. Our huge resource revenues were utterly spent. There was nothing put away into a savings account, and now that oil has come crashing down, there is nothing in the tank.

Another provincial election is coming, Wall’s 2nd as Premier. Will the oil crash of 2014/15 expose how badly the province is being managed? Is Wall’s extended honeymoon over? Probably not, but now there’s a chance of him reaping what he’s sown.

Lang Should Be Fired Or Suspended

It’s been brewing for Lang for quite some months now.

What does it say about Lang if her interview style is as friendly to almost everyone as those who pay her for public speaking, and are connected to her romantic relationship?


Almost 2 years ago, blogger Alison at Creekside1 had the scoop on Lang‘s greed and conflict of interest.

Flash back in time a bit:
“Saskboy:
Ombudsman tweeted me that Lang is off the CORE event.
18/4/13 11:46 am ”

http://www.ombudsman.cbc.radio-canada.ca/en/complaint-reviews/2011/conflict-of-interest/

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.