The NDP government has tried to hide a wasted $2 billion from Alberta taxpayers. This unnecessary $2 billion cost has added to Alberta’s exploding provincial debt, currently at $53 billion.
Electricity is a complex topic and one of the less well-understood issues for Albertans. Rachel Notley’s NDP took advantage of this when they interfered with power purchase agreements immediately after forming government in 2015.
Minister of Energy Margaret McCuaig-Boyd claimed the NDP government was taking action to provide Albertans with a more stable, affordable, and reliable electricity system. However, their actions resulted in the resignations of all but one board member from the Balancing Pool and a cost of $2 billion for Alberta taxpayers.
For decades, Alberta’s competitive market for electricity kept prices low and encouraged investment, including market-financed green power. Before the NDP, a market-friendly electricity system brought $20 billion in investment dollars to Alberta to build 10,000 megawatts of new power since 1996, including 1,727 megawatts of market-based green energy without subsidies.
Beginning in the mid-1990s, the province’s electricity industry was restructured to introduce competition and allow for full deregulation of electrical generation through the implementation of Power Purchase Arrangements (PPAs). Legislation – not negotiated contracts – mandates that the PPAs govern the relationship between the producer and the buyer.
Zealous to implement their ideological view, the NDP waited only a mere month after winning the election to implement carbon tax changes for large greenhouse gas emitters, including coal-fired power plants. Attempting to change the rules mid-game triggered a “hand-back provision” in the contract between the Province and electricity producers that producers say are to their detriment.
The NDP government sued all the power producers. Instead of accepting back the power purchase agreements through the Balancing Pool, which acts as a backstop for the electricity market, the NDP required the Balancing Pool to sue the producers. The NDP government eventually lost in a settlement agreed to out of court.
What does this mean for you?
Between 2004 and 2014 most residential electricity customers would receive $2 to $3 back from the Balancing Pool on their electricity bills. The Balancing Pool had a surplus of about $700 million when the Progressive Conservatives lost government in 2015 – under the NDP, there is now a $1 billion deficit.
This means you pay an additional $2 to $3 dollars extra as a Balancing Pool rider on your ENMAX bill every month. However, if this reflected the true cost of electricity it would be closer to $20 because the NDP has funded the Balancing Pool by adding to Alberta’s debt in an attempt to hide the $2 billion loss from you.
A few dollars may not seem like much on an ENMAX bill, but Albertans will pay for it one way or another. How many $2 billion blunders can you afford?