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WHEREAS the Government of Alberta has embarked on deregulation of the gas and electric industries, resulting in significantly high costs of energy;AND WHEREAS the North American Free Trade Agreement has created an open market for the energy industry in North America, especially for natural gas, and has resulted in excessively high energy costs;AND WHEREAS there is a limited number of suppliers of natural gas and electricity in Alberta and competition is an essential element for an open market place to function effectively and reduce the high cost of energy;AND WHEREAS there is uncertainty as to the availability of a long-term supply of a non-renewable finite natural gas resource and the potential hardships for future Albertans should demand continue to exceed supply;AND WHEREAS the Province has announced interim energy rebates to address the concerns of Albertans in this area;AND WHEREAS it is obviously the intent of the Government of Alberta to permit new electrical transmission lines to export Alberta fossil-fuel-based power to the U.S., and this action will result in Alberta consumers paying the U.S. market price;
THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the AAMDC urge the Government of Alberta to take immediate action to examine alternatives and develop a long-term action plan to alleviate and eliminate the high cost of energy for Albertans.
Recent newspaper articles indicate that the Premier of Alberta has hinted that new transmission lines will be built to allow surplus power to be exported to the U.S. This has industry watchers worrying as it will lead to higher prices for Albertans. A spokesperson for the Pembina Institute, a Drayton Valley-based environmental group, Mr. Tom Marr-Laing, has indicated that consumers will end up paying electricity prices determined by U.S. market demand, and stated that if soaring natural gas prices are any guideline, that means higher rates.Mr. Marr-Laing stated that the Alliance pipeline has vastly expanded gas exports and allowed producers to sell at prices set in Chicago, and that he expects the same thing will happen with electricity if new transmission lines are built down the Edmonton-Calgary corridor and into the U.S. He stated that we will be competing for our own electricity supply.Mr. Jim Wachowich, spokesperson for the Alberta Consumer Association also expressed concern on what exporting power will do to Alberta prices. He also stated that the other side of the coin is that if we become part of a larger grid instead of staying isolated, then we have access to cheaper power that may be available somewhere else. He stated that it could hurt us or it could help. Its a bit of a crap shoot. He stated the Government should look at the cost benefits before embarking on a solution.But Robert Spragins, Director of the Canadian Energy Research Institute in Calgary, advises that it is possible that prices could rise for Albertans depending on the capacity of the new lines and market prices. He does state that increasing output at power plants and exporting part of it would be good. He sees it as a positive move from a business point of view, as it is another export commodity. There could be some increase to consumers but there would be a net gain to the Province, as there is with natural gas.
Resolution 29-00F, endorsed at the fall 2000 convention, calls on the Government of Alberta to reconsider its deregulation of the electricity industry.