February 22nd, 2024

City Notebook: Power debate hits home

By COLLIN GALLANT on January 27, 2024.

cgallant@medicinehatnews.com@CollinGallant

The debate about renewable energy that’s been supercharged in a feud between the provincial and federal governments is about to land on the municipal landscape.

The city’s plan to reduce the carbon footprint of the City of Medicine Hat’s power plant – and the need for massive amounts of stockpiled cash to do it – was front and centre in Mayor Linnsie Clark’s State of the City address this week.

It comes several years after most utility companies in Alberta announced some sort of carbon-neutral-by-2050 sort of plan, and Clark stick-handled Tuesday around setting a goal, a date, or a path.

Routes could be either carbon capture at the plant, a big solar plant to cut relative emissions, or some combination of both.

Faithful readers of the News will note reporting has essentially pried this out of city officials over the years, but for others, it will be confirmation of their worst fears.

Big money and big plans aren’t typically celebrated by Hatters, and adding hotly debated issues, like the Trudeau Liberals’ climate goals, could cause a meltdown.

Why bother doing anything if, as they surely believe, the soon-to-be elected Conservative Party axes the carbon tax?

One can already hear many Hatters asking, “Does Danielle Smith know about this?”

Others will view the business case for solar as a no-brainer, with some solid points.

Even without a carbon charge at the power plant (more than $8 million in 2023 to the provincial not federal government) at the power plant, cutting fuel costs and extending the life of gas turbines, might make it worth it.

Worth using a huge reserve funds built up by power profits?

Worth the political capital needed to get a green power proposal past Alberta voters, especially ones so energized to send a message?

We’ll find out this year when the city’s energy business review and clean energy strategy are released and the 2025-26 city budget set.

Hockey talk

The Brooks Bandits’ apparent move to the BC Junior A hockey league is certainly a mess, but it’s not unprecedented.

The club down the road, which more often than not wins the provincial title, is one of five teams in the province set to bolt to the B.C. loop that left Hockey Canada governance last year.

It’s a message that they want a higher profile and better competition for athletes that play by the U.S. College rules about amateur states, and therefore are eligible for scholarships. (That issue has stoked decades of spite between the major junior and the junior A leagues, but another story).

The WHL itself formed when five top teams in Saskatchewan Junior A were convinced by Bill Hunter to defect and form a super circuit with his team in Edmonton and an expansion team in Calgary.

Dignitaries

Redcliff and Cypress County officials are standard attendees to the Medicine Hat “State of the City” address, but this year also notably welcomed Brooks Mayor Jon Petrie. As well, a guest of local police chief Al Murphy was Dwayne Lakusta, formerly of the Alberta ALERT office and the incoming chief of the newly formed Grande Prairie municipal police force. Both were top officers in Edmonton, as well.

A look ahead

Council next sits Feb. 5, but its energy committee is scheduled to convene this week.

The Alberta New Democrats will hold a local public meeting Thursday regarding the province’s explorations into an Alberta Pension Plan.

The Medicine Hat Utility Ratepayers Association, which loosely formed around the power price controversy last August, will hold its formal founding meeting on Wednesday. (“Who’s ready for Round 2?,” asks a poster promoting the event. See above.)

Don’t look know but it’s Ground Hog Day on Friday. Might this be the first year that spring actually begins on Feb. 2? Winter only started on Jan. 10!

100 years ago

As per tradition, about 30 aldermen and former alderman gathered at the Assiniboia Hotel for lunch following the swearing in of new representatives in annual civic elections, the News reported in late January 1924.

The Moose Lodge hosted a “Robbie Burns Dinner” with 400 in attendance.

New liquor permits forbid serving beer over counters or bars but only to seated patrons, it was determined as Alberta laid down rules for regulated liquor sales.

Cash and bonds stolen from a bank in Dollard, Sask., near Shaunavon, in 1923, were discovered in the vault of a Great Falls attorney as part of a four-state investigation into a 17-man bank gang.

Ottawa would close the “Canada Colonization” department that managed major immigration to the West during the 1910s.

A fire at the roundhouse in Ft. William destroyed 16 Canadian Pacific locomotives.

Collin Gallant covers city politics and a variety of topics for the News. Reach him at 403-528-5664 or via email at cgallant@medicinehatnews.com.

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