Wildrose leader questions solar rebates
Brian Jean reacted to program while in Olds
Wednesday, Mar 01, 2017 09:30 am
WILDROSE PARTY LEADER
Wildrose leader Brian Jean says while he supports the idea of solar and wind power, he thinks the NDP government’s newly-announced solar power rebate program is the wrong way to go.
Environment Minister Shannon Phillips unveiled the $36 million program Feb. 27. Jean was asked for his response as he attended a unite-the-right event at the Olds Legion that evening.
The idea behind the government’s rebate program is to encourage residents and businesses to install solar power panels on their rooftops. The government hopes to see new solar panels on 10,000 roofs in Alberta within three years.
Details such as what systems qualify for the rebates and who will qualify to receive them are still being worked out, but Phillips predicted the rebates will be available as soon as this summer.
Phillips said the program is expected to create 900 jobs by 2019, and reduce solar installation costs by up to 30 per cent in homes and 25 per cent in businesses.
She said solar panels will cut greenhouse gas emissions and the elimination of those emissions would be the equivalent of taking 100,000 vehicles off the road.
Phillips said the use of solar panels has doubled in Alberta since 2015 and she credited programs instituted by the NDP government as the main reason for that upsurge.
Jean told the Albertan he’s OK with new energy-producing technologies like solar and wind power, but said government rebate programs are not the answer.
“We think it’s always good to invest in new technologies and certainly solar has some opportunities,” Jean said.
But he said subsidizing the industry doesn’t work.
Jean said the Ontario government introduced programs to support companies making solar panels. He said once the subsidies were removed, many went bankrupt.
“And who pays that price? The taxpayers of Ontario, and that’s why they have the largest utility debt and largest sub-sovereign debt of anywhere in the world right now,” Jean said.
He questioned the need to spur solar power installation in Alberta when other alternatives exist.
“We have natural gas that is the cleanest burning fuel there is out there right now and we have an over-abundant supply of it and it’s cheap,” Jean said.
“So why wouldn’t we move more towards natural gas solutions and clean coal technology and clean natural gas solutions rather than towards things that right now are not economically viable? And solar and wind are not economically viable to replace the base load.”
He said the problem with solar and wind power is the sun doesn’t always shine and the wind doesn’t always blow, yet Albertans demand energy when they need it. For example, they expect the lights to come on the second they flip the switch.
“When the wind blows and the sun shines, you can use that to supplement power. But you can’t use it at night and you can’t use it when the wind doesn’t go. So we need something to supplement that and the best thing for that is natural gas,” Jean said.