Greetings from Chicago where I am now working - and still in the wind energy sector although that will not surprise those who know me!
After our letter to Minister McKenna in April, the Auditor General's office made me aware of the Petition Process which was "established by Parliament to make sure Canadians can get answers from federal ministers on specific environmental and sustainable development issues that involve federal jurisdiction".
I have traditionally achieved less than limited results from anything with the word 'petition' in it and so was not overly interested and certainly did not think it would achieve anything which our innumerable efforts since 2012 were unable to achieve. Nonetheless it was pointed out that even if we did not achieve anything tangible, the petition would at least ensure that our concerns would be 'on the record'. This is because they would have to be considered, and responded to, by a Federal Minister.
So I started the process in May and distilled our concerns down to three main issues which, as I thought back over the challenges we had faced since 2012, struck me as those which were most troubling and about which a federal minister might be able to do something. You probably won't be surprised by them;
#1. Financial Audit of $1.5-billion Boundary Dam Carbon Capture scheme. 23 March 2017 blog
#2. Parliamentary Budget Office report on ways to reduce Canada's GHG emissions. 14 June 2016 blog
I was advised by the Office of the Auditor General that - ironically, some might say! - our Audit request (i.e. item #1) fell outside the mandate of the Petition Process and so could not be included. As a result, I omitted that from our final submission in June.
The Minister's September response was, as expected, distinctly underwhelming and so appeared to confirm what I'd been hearing: that the Trudeau government is better at talking than doing. Given the apparent lack of interest I assumed that nothing further needed to be done and that it therefore truly represented the 'end of the line' for SaskWind.
However; after a few months of reflection, and since things are quieter at work which gives me a bit of spare time, I decided to respond as, for me at least, it is a fitting way to bring SaskWind to a close.
I hope this final letter strikes a positive tone because that is certainly how I feel. As wind (and solar) advance at break-neck speed across North America and around the world, the coal industry is in equally rapid retreat. In addition to which Canada's monopoly utility companies - of which SaskPower is one - have increasingly less latitude to pursue patently uneconomic new generation projects which burden the public with unacceptably high economic costs. For evidence one need only look across the border to Alberta or to the Site C review in British Columbia.
For what it is worth, I have but two regrets from the 5-year SaskWind experiment. The first is that I am not able to call Saskatchewan my home. The second is that the regressive energy policies of both the SaskParty and SaskPower, mean that Saskatchewan is ill-prepared for the low carbon, distributed generation future into which we are rapidly moving. But - as the old Persian adage goes - 'this too shall pass'.
My response to Minister McKenna. 12 December 2017
Minister McKenna's response to the Environmental Petition. 6 September 2017
SaskWind's Environmental Petition to Minister McKenna. 24 May 2017
By the way: I have been asked by a few people why the SaskWind site is still live when the project behind it - i.e. that in Swift Current - is dead. The reason is that the issues which prevented it remain very relevant not least for the many people and companies who continue to struggle against institutionalized (SaskParty and SaskPower) resistance as they try to implement their own renewable energy projects. Evidence of this fact lies in the significant amount of traffic which the SaskWind site still attracts.
I will keep the SaskWind site live as long as that traffic continues.
Per ardua ad astra!