This morning CBC published an article 'Boundary Dam Power Station among Saskatchewan's Heaviest Polluters' which was drawn from an interview yesterday with SaskWind's James Glennie.
That article, as sometime happens with the Media, was written in such a way that it appears to ratchet up the heat between the two sides in the (already heated) carbon tax debate. The interview took some of what was said out of context with the result that the two sides in the debate, each of whom has valid concerns, were portrayed in a fashion which was arguably more confrontational than need be.
That was unfortunate since we are only going to reach resolution on the complex issue of carbon charges if we engage in dialogue and work together. The first step in the process involves recognizing the contributions and concerns of both parties;
The Saskatchewan hydrocarbon industry annually generates $16-billion in revenue and $2.2-billion in royalties for the province. In getting oil and gas out of the ground it spends $12-billion every year and employs tens of thousands of people. The industry is rightly concerned that any additional expenses, at this difficult time of low crude and natural gas prices, could materially impact industry profitability and drive jobs out of province. These are valid concerns and are not helped by inaccurate statements about the potential economic impact of a new carbon tax.
For its part the wind industry is concerned that, even though Saskatchewan has one of the best wind resources in North America, it has hardly been developed at all in the last 10 years. In that same time period other Provinces and US States have experienced massive growth with all the associated benefits of jobs, increased tax revenue and major reductions in greenhouse gas emissions at minimal cost. We feel our industry has been excluded from the market in favor of more expensive options and electricity users are paying higher costs as a result. We also believe Monday's Federal carbon tax proposal will have significantly less economic impact than some are saying.
SaskPower's new CEO, Mike Marsh, has come up with a realistic new electricity generation plan for Saskatchewan: 50 percent renewables by 2030. The option he envisages seeks to steer a difficult path between the (often) conflicting views of advocates from the renewables and hydrocarbon industries. It recognizes the ever-improving economics of wind and solar, in balanced combination with coal and natural gas assets, will allow us to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions of our power generation sector by 40 percent by 2030. This represents a major change in a generation planning process which has historically been dominated by hydrocarbons. It is an ambitious target. It is also one which, if we work together, we can meet and we can do so while creating thousands of jobs, billions in new investments and all while keeping electricity prices as low as possible for Saskatchewan electricity consumers.
We'll only get the job done by engaging in real debate rather than mud slinging.