On the eve of Alberta's election last month premier Ralph Klein suddenly turned his back on wind energy, publicly criticising it as "too costly." Politics in the province tend to be dominated by fossil fuel interests, which provide a major source of government tax revenues and economic activity. Klein was comfortably returned to power on March 11. Citizens group Naturally Powerful Pincher Creek (NPPC) says that only weeks before the election Klein had declared his support for the concept of "clean, lower total cost" wind energy and a level playing field for electricity pricing. The group supports plans for a wind development at Pincher Creek of several hundred megawatt (Windpower Monthly, March 1997). It also advocates energy accounting in Alberta which reflects the environmental and social costs of its mammoth fossil fuel industry, while incorporating the economic benefits of renewables. The election victory increased Klein's majority and bolstered his policies of government spending cutbacks. NPPC organiser Dale Johnson says Klein and the Department of Energy are now condemning wind, saying it is more expensive than fossil fuel. "The only thing that makes wind energy appear more expensive than fossil fuel is the subsidy fossil fuel already gets," he says. Johnson is also a prime mover of the Pincher Creek wind proposal by York Windpower and Enercon. NPPC says that active support of the project "would provide a shield against a carbon tax [and] assist Alberta in achieving its CO2 reduction goals."
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Senior Renewable Energy Analyst (WindGEMINI Product Lead) DNV GL Bristol (City Centre), City of Bristol