Not Ralph Klein's Alberta Anymore


Last year we took possession of a new home that surpassed an energy rating of Energuide 86. Because of that, Climate Change Central, an arms-length government organization, mailed us a $10,000 cheque.

What we really need is a carbon tax. Economists (the good kind) and environmentalists agree, putting a price on carbon is the simplest, most effective way of changing people’s earth-destroying ways. And I don’t buy the argument that Stephane Dion’s doomed election campaign proved that Canadians don’t want a carbon tax. The nerdiest, least competent Liberal leader in a generation lost that campaign for reasons other than his Green Shift idea.

Since a carbon tax is a political hot potato right now, one behaviour-changing alternative is the green subsidy. I have to give the Progressive Conservatives credit, this is no longer Ralph Klein’s Alberta. Stelmach’s government recently enacted an excellent net metering policy, and they also introduced the new home rebate policy.

With the right builder, we estimate that the incremental cost to building a house to meet Energuide 86, which would include excellent windows (triple-pane, low-e coating, insulating spaces, etc.), at least R40 walls, R60 in the ceiling, and a very tightly-sealed envelope, is $20,000-$25,000. With the $10,000 incentive, that cost is now ridiculously low.

Build a house that is extremely cheap to heat, much more comfortable in the winter, and cool in the summer. And get paid ten grand to do it - it’s a no-brainer.

Climate Change Central has another three years of funding in place (it may be extended beyond that time). Ask your builder to save you $10,000 today. If your builder can’t build an Energuide 86 house, find another one.

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I have very much enjoyed your blog, up to the point of this post.
Do you really want to limit your self to an audience of green party supporters?
Last I heard they were at about 8% support.
I am very interested in solar power, and netzero building, but I do not have a liberal (Left) bone in my body.
NetZero building would mean greater self sufficiency and as a hedge against an energy crisis I can see coming.
But "More Goverment Money" is not the answer.
The program in Ontario is a bust (costing way to much for not much benifit), and the U.K. is spending itself into bankrupcy with similar programs.
Your idea of a carbon tax is nothing but a well meaning efort to subvert the regular market forces which will eventualy bring the prices down on their own.
If you doubt that - take a look at what a PV system cost 10 years ago.
A carbon tax would not make solar power less expensive, it would just make other sources more expensive, which is the goal of Carbon trade/tax scams across the world.

Dont get me wrong, I like your blog and I will continue learning about solar power but this post seemed out of place with the rest of your site.

Hi Tim,

I don't think it needs to become a partisan argument (and I thank you for your respectful tone).

I am actually arguing for better markets. I don't think that any form of energy should be subsidized.

Fossil fuels are currently highly subsidized. Coal emitters are allowed to treat the air like a sewer. The air is a common resource that provides life to all humans. Coal-fired generating stations can use up this limited resource FOR FREE. That's a subsidy.

Cars burn gasoline and diesel fuel that emits many known carcinogens. They get to further befoul a common resource FOR FREE. Another huge subsidy.

All fossil fuels are allowed to disrupt the climate for free as well.

The running joke still stands: When renewable energy technology is cost competitive without subsidies, it will be the only energy technology without subsidies.

This blog post was arguing that since dirty energy is subsidized, at least there are a few subsidies for clean energy. But really we need to take away the subsidies for dirty energy. A carbon tax goes part of the way to doing that.

Pay for use. That's all I ask.


Question for you Tim,

Do you have any references for your two comments below?
> The program in Ontario is a bust (costing way to much for not much benifit)
> the U.K. is spending itself into bankrupcy with similar programs.


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