Alberta Politics

albertans in the dark after rolling power blackouts.

Alberta Rolling Power Blackouts
A total of four power generating plants went down across the province causing electrical blackout.

Rolling power blackouts yesterday across Alberta have some politicians raising questions about the accountability of privately-operated electrical utility companies. The blackouts also reignited the long-standing debate over the construction of controversial new electrical transmission lines in rural Alberta. A total of four power generating plants went down across the province causing electrical blackout during one of the hottest days of the summer.

Edmonton-Strathcona NDP MLA Rachel Notley told the Edmonton Journal that re-establishing a regulated energy market in Alberta would reduce the chance of market manipulation:

“But if we aren’t going to do that, we better darn well have some answers as to why we have this coincidence of everybody not producing power on the same day,” she said. “We need to look into the relationship between the prices AESO is allowing and these plants all going off-line.”

The sale of electricity in Alberta was deregulated by the Progressive Conservative government of Premier Ralph Klein in the early 2000s.

Rimbey-Rocky Mountain House-Sundre Wildrose MLA Joe Anglin raised suspicions about the blackout and the provincial government’s drive to build new electrical transmission lines:

“Four major generators tripping off is really weird. It can happen, but I’m having trouble swallowing that at the moment… Even if this is 100-per-cent legitimate, they still need to investigate because economically this costs the province. But on the surface, this looks really suspicious and manipulative.”

During the recent provincial election, the Wildrose Party was successful in translating opposition by landowners to the construction of new transmission lines into electoral success in rural south and central Alberta constituencies. The Wildrose Party swept 14 constituencies in these two regions.

In response to claims of market manipulation, Calgary-West PC MLA and Energy Minister Ken Hughes told the Calgary Herald’s Don Braid:

“I’m not aware of any evidence of that. I think it would be very unlikely.”

(This post was written and published while I was in BT Edmonton studios this morning as part of BT Bloggers Week)

9 replies on “albertans in the dark after rolling power blackouts.”

I’m not convinced that it was market manipulation but there is the problem that we can’t know for certain. The AESO has said they’re going to investigate but will not release the results of that investigation. Given the public and opposition propensity to believe the worst in these situations, that ‘s going to be a problem.

There are three components to the power system – generation, transmission and distribution and I don’t remember them being deregulated all at the same time. If I remember correctly, regulations on when private sector companies could build power generators were relaxed prior to 2000.
What happened Monday was more an issue of generation, so transmission and distribution (deregulated or not) wouldn’t have been a factor. You can’t keep adding to the demand and not increasing supply and not have it hit a wall at some point. The only way to address an issue of generation supply is to build more generation.

So Ken is saying he is not aware of evidence – willful blindness or shear ignorance? That kind of answer will not wash. To have that many generators go offline at the same time is dangerously disconcerting for the public safety. Why will Ken not ask the tough questions and get so truthful answers?

I agree with Liam. If nothing else, it seems very wrong for the Minister of Energy to casually dismiss the concerns of many Albertans. A better answer would have been “I’ll be looking into it”. But 40+ years of the same governing party has led to the point where Ministers of the Crown think they work for the industries they are tasked with overseeing. Ken Hughes has forgotten that he works for us, the voting public. Of course it must be easy for him in particular to forget, seeing as how the Premier handed him a PC nomination after he failed to win one fairly. Ken has little reason to fear any kind of election, and it shows in the shitty way he’s doing his job.

Thank you Albertan taxpayer for doing all the heavy lifting. We could never have done it ourselves. Now we’ll just need you to finish upgrading the infrastructure so that your Bilderberg Club Premier can sell off for pennies on the dollar anything of value that happens to be left; for the privilege of transferring what is left of your sovereignty to us we’ll make sure the sale appears to be a heck of great looking one-time stocking stuffer for your small-beer ‘budget’, if you can get all of the real work done before the next election cycle, that is.

A private interest in your public works.

Joffre would not have been in on any collusion since it would have cost them money (also they were back up in 2 hours), Genesee went down and back up relatively quickly (3 hours). Keephills took 5 hours and then failed again today, but Keephills is an older plant that Genesee and more prone to failure. Battle River is the only one with an extended outage. If they were colluding they would have kept them down longer…also, they don’t need to drive us into blackout conditions to get teh price to max out…that makes everyone notice and “investigate”. If they were colluding they would have taken it to the edge but not caused outages.

We need more power, we might need to re-regulate, but this was not a case of price fixing, this was a case of a bloody hot day screwing up instrumentation and thus generation. Allowing Transalta to take Sundance 1 & 2 out of service prior to end of life, and prior to their PPA expiring is what needs to be investigated.

Cue up the blind banjo players, WR sees a “conspiracy”. No, stop spending billions on giant horizontal Suzookie beanie copters, notice there was no wind folks, nothing to pick up the slack. We need more power lines/real power generators (coal water nuclear), and less idiots like Joe Anglin and his band of banjo pickers along with the NDPEE fools who never let a crisis go by, I think they have a crisis manufacturer center somewhere. Lets grow up Alberta, chase the last greenie into their beloved forest to be eaten by their beloved grizzly, cause it will happen, and get Alberta back to “meaningful” work, not environMENTALism money wasting, and the power will continuously, flow again.

Wildrose wants power, but no “power lines”. They freak out when there’s no power, and blame the Conservative Government. If they had won the election, the power would still have gone out that day. I wonder who would have been to blame at that point.

Ah, May. If the WRA had won, then the fault clearly would have been the Conservatives. Anyone remember July 2006? The last time heat and high demand and generation outages forced rotating blackouts? It’s not like this hasn’t happened before. If it’s a conspiracy by the generators, you would think they would implement their nefarious scheme more often than once every six years. Joe Anglin is an idiot.

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