Since announcing their intention to take these electricity companies to court over the legality of PPAs signed more than 15 years ago, the NDP government has been working overtime to paint these companies as greedy profit mongers, intent on swindling the Alberta public just to make a buck.
This couldn’t be further from the truth and I think it’s time to set the record straight.
First, let’s address the claim that PPA holders have collectively earned $10 billion in profits and are now attempting to download current and future losses onto taxpayers.
The truth is that while these companies have indeed earned a profit over the years, they have collectively invested double that amount in the development of a reliable and affordable electricity system in Alberta.
Since deregulation, the industry has invested approximately $20 billion into building the generation infrastructure needed to make sure that every time you go to turn on a light or charge your cellphone, the power is there.
This figure includes the $3 billion initially paid for PPAs at auction in 2000.
As a result of these investments, Alberta is the only jurisdiction in Canada that has no public utility debt.
By contrast, British Columbians owe $9.9 billion and Ontarians, a staggering $62.6 billion.
This has left Alberta with a significant amount of money to invest in other public priorities like schools, hospitals and roads.
Beyond these infrastructure investments, Enmax has been able to rebate approximately $900 million to the City of Calgary since 1998.
That’s the equivalent to $125 in property tax savings annually for Calgary homeowners.
At the end of the day, it’s important to remember that these companies have built a public utility system that has provided Albertans with an affordable, reliable electricity supply over the past 16 years — a cost that would have otherwise been shouldered by the taxpayer.
We should be celebrating these contributions, not vilifying those who made them.
The NDP has spun a narrative that deliberately smears the reputation of companies that have made huge investments in our province — investments that far exceed any profits that have been made off of PPAs since Alberta’s electricity market was deregulated.
The greatest irony of this entire debacle is that the government desperately needs these very companies to continue investing in the system by building natural gas and renewable electricity generation capacity to fill the gap left by their plan to phase out coal-fired generation by 2030.
The success of their Climate Leadership Plan will hinge on whether or not they are able to repair the damage done to these important relationships.
It’s hard to imagine why anyone would want to invest another dollar in Alberta after witnessing this government’s utter contempt for private industry.