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The Galloping Geezer

Jack Downey Comments on Canadian Issues

Jack Downey ~ The Galloping Geezer
Photo by Julie Ann Biggs

Alberta Robbing British Columbia of its Resources?!

In the southwest corner of Alberta, an almost constant wind comes roaring through the Crowsnest Pass and, out of this BC venturus, spreads across the Foothills and on to the Great Plains. The last major North-South ridge of the Livingston Range of the Rocky Mountains is at Cowley Alberta. The Cowley Ridge runs across the Pass and is studded with huge, wind powered electrical generators. One cannot help but be impressed with these pollution free, silent, electrical colossi. They are churning out free electricity for Alberta's Power Pool. Each 15-story high wind turbine produces enough energy for 300 homes. With the high cost of gas and coal for steam generated power, and few if any Dam sites left for Hydro generation, we are faced with large development projects for Wind and Tidal solutions for power sources. It is estimated that the potential for wind generated power worldwide, with present technology, is five times current Global electrical use.


Just over the Alberta-BC border, a short drive to the west, Sparwood sends masses of coal by rail to Robert's Bank where ship loads of it go to Japan for coal power generators in the Land of the Rising Sun. Japan pays BC for the coal. Pollutants from Japan are sent back at no charge on Trans Pacific winds. Alberta steals BC winds for their electrical needs, and pays not a Groat for this BC resource! Not only does Alberta get the wind free, but we send pollutants from our 57% Coal fired electrical generators to Saskatchewan. Before you send the men with the Butterfly nets looking for me, please hear me out.

According to Enmax (a Calgary based Alberta Utility Corp.), 57% of Alberta's power is produced by coal, 32% by natural gas, 9% by hydro and 2% by wind generation. Every one of these methods are subsidized by Federal and Provincial tax dollars in one form or another, including rail and pipeline networks. Before Electric Power Deregulation, Albertans received their electricity at a reasonable rate. Now electricity is so costly that there may be serious research projects in many basement labs where the entrepreneurs seek to power their PCs with the likes of beeswax candles. Some think that "Macs" could be run on Okanagan Valley apple juice, or so I've heard. Since all these electricity producing commodities, including candles and apple juice, have an export price and tax subsidies, why does BC not demand payment for it's wind? They should at least be in line for a government Energy Depletion Allowance, as are those provinces using up their Natural gas and Oil. The constant flow of the BC wind through the gut of the Crowsnest Pass is eroding away, or in effect depleting, the sides and bottom of this natural venturus. This einfart (German for "way in") erosion will eventually widen the Pass and drop the present high velocity "ausfart" (German for "way out") until, in a few million years, a soft breeze will be all that is left blowing into Southern Alberta from BC. If BC runs out of wind, you'd better not think that Alberta will give BCers gas like it does to Eastern Canada!

There is a precedent for receiving payment for surplus wind. Politicians, sales persons, TV sports announcers and many others receive payment for blowing off wind. Soon after the deregulation of Alberta's power industry by the Premier Klien government, every taxpayer in Alberta received two cheques of $150 each, to help defray the extraordinary increase in the cost of electricity. This payment was, in effect, a government subsidy to the Free Enterprise companies that took over the Power Distribution Grid. It was just a smarmy political way of covering a big blunder. An honest politician (oxymoron) would have used these funds to build more publicly owned Wind Turbines for long-term power cost reduction.

Since we use BC wind for 2% of Alberta's power it would have been a friendly gesture to give BC 2% of the cash windfall (pun intended). Alberta, with a population of 2.5 million, one third of whom pay taxes, should have given half a million dollars to BC for breaking wind. We will not even touch on BC's Chinook winds that raise Alberta's winter temperatures and reduce Albertans' heating bills. Albertans are so blatant in their non payment of BC Chinook winds, that they even go so far as to call them ALBERTA Chinooks. What cheek! Most Albertans are honest law abiding citizens and would certainly support payment for these BC commodities and for sure a Federal Energy Depletion allowance to BC. What's good for Alberta is good for all according to our government!

Many Canadians look to Alberta for the way their governments should operate. Be careful what you wish for, unless you have a lot of oil and gas, you may get it. Deregulation tripled our electricity bills, which, in turn, increased the cost of all goods and services. The government covered it's blunder by giving us our own tax money back to make us think this was Manna from Edmonton. Both the government and the Private Enterprise power companies say, "Deregulation will, in three to five years, bring a decrease in electrical costs." When's the last time you saw prices go down?

The city of Calgary's major electricity supplier is a FREE ENTERPRISE CORPORATION called Enmax. They have set up an infomative little branch called Greenmax. With their tripled power bills, the residents find a slick little insert extolling the use of Wind Turbine electrical power. No sane person could be against this pollution free, readily available, source of power. We need many more generators to wring out every ounce of power from BC's wind before it slips through our windmill blades to Saskatchewan. Enmax has a Web site touting their concern for the environment (www.enmax.com). Their facts are accurate, but their logic has serious flaws, in my opinion. They actually panhandle their, grossly over-charged customers for donations! Keep in mind that they are a "For Profit" company, that has already taken over the publicly paid-for infrastructure. Enmax/Greenmax is not a charity. Donations are not tax deductible.

After talking at length to a senior person at Greenmax, I was told that these public donations (to a Free Enterprise company) go to help offset the surcharge for wind generated power! Another Private Company owns most of the wind generators and sells power from the Wind Turbines to Enmax and other Alberta power suppliers. How much of the 2% "Green Power" production goes into each home? If wind power cannot compete in a free market, then reverse the blades and blow the stuff back to BC! The donations of $5-10-15 imply another load of cod's wallop. The company inferes that each donation is "like saving." The part that really tugs at those environmental heart strings is that a donation of $5.00 is "like planting 120 FULLY GROWN trees in a local park", $10.00 got you 250 fully grown trees, and $15.00 "about 400". Greenmax only says, "like planting". To my knowledge, Greenmax has not planted one scabby little shrub, anywhere. If what they imply were to happen, Calgary would have to import the entire Amazon Rain Forest to cover its donations to a free enterprise panhandler.

We do not care much for trees in Alberta; they block the view of Saskatchewan. All those trees Greenmax talks about should be planted out in BC to act as a Windbreak and keep that surcharged wind power source out where it belongs. In fair exchange, BC can keep supplying winter Chinooks to us at no charge.

If Greenmax, or any other Private Enterprise Utility Company, wants to solicit public donations they would be wise to invest them in putting up Wind Turbines of their own and donate the money earned to Breast Cancer Research or other humanitarian project.

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PS: Wind power is viable in very few places. The velocity of the wind is not as important as the number of hours a year the wind blows. Wind generated power also can be used to convert water to hydrogen and oxygen, the hydrogen is stored, then used to run a hydrogen motor to produce electrical power during times when there is no wind. Hydrogen motors give off water vapor as a byproduct so both the generator and the motor are pollution free, plus distilling the exhaust gives you pure water!

Signed; the Galloping Geezer

Jack C. Downey CD
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