Why Were Blackouts Kept Secret?
Mayor Mandel was fuming that the city was given no advance warning by EPCOR or the AESO (Alberta Electric System Operator) of the AESO-ordered rolling blackouts July 9. iNews 880 quoted him as saying, “Legally they can only tell police.” The Mayor is not happy with this explanation and went on to say, “I think there’s culpability on a whole bunch of people and they’re now looking at what happened and why it happened and I’m sure there’s going to be lots of fingers pointed at a lot of people.”
The finger pointing has indeed already started. An ENMAX spokesperson says public notifications are left up to the AESO (CBC News). The AESO says it’s actually up to the local utilities to decide how to implement the power cuts. EPCOR says there wasn’t time to communicate the blackouts ordered by the AESO. (Since the blackouts were ordered by the AESO and they were province-wide, RETA agrees with ENMAX…the provincial operator should have made the public aware.)
As we’ve already reported, the AESO plans to review what happened but won’t release the results of the investigation to the public because of Alberta’s competitive electricity market. Joe Anglin, Wildrose Opposition Utilities Critic, says, “Premier Alison Redford had promised a more open and transparent government, but right now it looks like the same old PC government keeping information of public interest behind closed doors. Given that there have been instances in the past where power consumers have been gouged by the system because of planned power shortages, Albertans deserve answers to clear the air.”
Anglin also criticized the government for not being more proactive in promoting use of our abundant and cheap natural gas for power generation, rather than relying primarily on coal-fired generation which adds significantly more greenhouse gases to our atmosphere. “Albertans would not have had to experience the rolling blackouts. The system would be more efficient, more stable and would cost Albertans a fraction of the billions of dollars the government is proposing to spend on unnecessary new transmission lines,” said Anglin.