The province of Alberta is Canada's leading contributor to carbon dioxide emissions and it is likely that Canada will not meet its international commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by the year 2000. The wind plant project proposed by York WindPower, Enercon and Wind Power Inc (see main story) could offset at least 2.5 million tonnes of carbon dioxide each year by displacing generation from fossil fuel, argue its proponents. They criticise the structure of the Alberta Power Pool and the Electric Utilities Act, which controls the pool, because they do not allow competition in electrical generation. Instead, customer choice is prevented by restricting consumer purchases to the local electric utility monopoly while subsidising coal generation and granting no recognition to the external costs of power production, those associated with pollution. Furthermore, the proponents allege that Alberta electric utilities have historically been reluctant to negotiate with independent wind power developers on a good faith basis. The utilities control distribution and the grid as well, preventing sales of wind power directly to customers.
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