Following up from yesterdays post about Vision of Earth, I wanted Ben and Kyle to provide a bit of detail on one of their recent projects – Publicly Administered Green Energy Futures. The concept is for the public to directly contribute funds for the expansion of green energy infrastructure via SaskPower, leading to more green energy production in the province.
Here is Part 2 from Ben and Kyle:
We proposed a mechanism we called SaskPower Green Energy Futures through which Saskatchewan citizens could invest in new renewable energy developments administered by SaskPower. We look at varying ways that renewable energy projects could be planned, including by SaskPower or by interested private companies.
How we came up with this idea
We like having publicly-owned power infrastructure and while Saskatchewan has a long history of successful crown corporations, we realized that there were a number of constraints on renewable power development in Saskatchewan:
1) SaskPower cannot raise their rates without the approval of the government. This causes them to be handcuffed to some extent with regards to modernizing their infrastructure.
2) SaskPower’s GreenPower program ran out of electricity. People who wanted to support renewable energy development in Saskatchewan had no way of doing so through their crown corporation. Their only options were to participate in the Net Metering, Green Options Partners Program, and the Small Power Producers Program which are for people who want to hook up their own power production equipment to the grid. This means that the only way to contribute to a renewable energy grid in Saskatchewan is to build it yourself. These programs are complicated and require a lot of detailed assessment and certification. Going through the process is time-consuming and often expensive. These are not programs that are easily accessible by the general public who want to support green energy.
3) There are tremendous economies of scale involved in electricity production. One dollar spent on large-scale power stations produces 3-10 times the amount of electricity that is produced by one dollar spent on a small-scale power system. This economy of scale is especially noticeable in renewable energy development such as wind power.
Given these issues, we wanted to propose a solution that had publicly-owned renewable energy systems and we were looking for an idea that would present a solution to the dilemmas listed above. Our solution was to propose a structure in which SaskPower could own future renewable power systems that have been directly paid for by residents of Saskatchewan. People would have the choice to invest their money into renewable energy projects that they like and would then be guaranteed a certain amount of electricity credit for the duration of the power project.
In this manner, people could enjoy the benefits of the economies of scale in large power projects that they are investing directly in, while retaining public ownership of their electrical grid. This option would also allow SaskPower to actively lead the modernizing of the power grid without being subjected to political limitations.
Combining community-based power initiatives with SaskPower management, expertise, and ownership led us quickly to the idea of Green Energy Futures.
What sparked us to start thinking about publicly administered energy and why we think it is important for citizens to actively engage in the production of renewable energy
The concept of an electric Crown corporation is really appealing to both of us and we like the idea of ‘the people’ acting together to secure their future. This is related to our belief that capitalism must be regulated and led in a meaningful manner in order to be effective and fair. We lean towards the socialist end of the current political spectrum because it seems to us that only there can we find reasonable moderation between capitalism and totalitarian control.
We believe that government regulators being under corporate influence and control are more capable of doing damage to society than crown corporations that are mismanaged or myopic due to undue political control, though both have their distinct disadvantages. Controls, attention, knowledge and activism must be developed to counteract both of these corruptive forces.
We think that citizen involvement in the production of renewable energy is very important. Being directly involved in the design, ownership, and management of the infrastructure that you rely upon makes you keenly aware of the practical realities. Understanding and taking responsibility for your energy resources in a much more fundamental way is likely to lead to conscientious use of them. Understanding how electricity works, and where the costs are, should lead to more effective use of our electrical resources.
RUE readers interested in this topic are welcome to read more about it at Publicly Administered Green Energy Futures or contact us. Lastly, if you are interested in getting involved, we love working with new people.
Big thanks again to Ben and Kyle for sharing some insight into Vision of Earth and their projects