Meili proposes ‘Renew Saskatchewan’ plan to support clean energy transition

Saskatoon – The provincial New Democratic Party announced its strategy for a “clean energy transition” on Oct. 13, one that aims for a widely distributed system of very small power generation.

In his keynote address to NDP convention delegates in Saskatoon, NDP Leader Ryan Meili presented his “Renew Saskatchewan plan”

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It was touted as removing the barriers that are keeping Saskatchewan families, farms, and businesses from reducing energy usage and shifting to lower-cost, renewable options.

“Climate change demands the best of us, but Saskatchewan has fallen behind. This plan is designed to jump-start the clean energy transition we know we need, meeting the urgency of climate change with the opportunity of low-cost clean energy.”

Similar to past Saskatchewan government innovations like the Rural Electrification Program or the Family Farm Improvement Program, the Renew Saskatchewan plan outlined by Meili would provide assessments and financing for clean energy installations or retrofits for homes, farms, businesses, industry, municipalities and reserves. After an initial assessment to determine the lowest-cost and highest-return option for a given property or organization, some of all of the cost of the installation would be covered by the fund, and would be paid back over time from the customer’s power or energy bills based on the value of the power generated or fossil fuel energy saved by the installation.

“Investment in renewable energy or retrofits of inefficient buildings pay for themselves in the money saved on heat or power,” Meili said. “People want to make the shift to clean energy, but the up-front cost stops them, even though it would save a lot of money over the long term. This plan would remove the barriers that currently prevent people taking action on climate change.”

Investments from the fund are not tied to any particular technology. The specific work would be based on individual consultation to find the best fit for the property or organization, but would consider solar, wind, geothermal, biomass, hydroelectricity, electric vehicles, energy efficient retrofits and new buildings. Qualification for the program would be based on an assessment to determine projected savings and payback time.

Excess power produced by renewables would be fed back into the grid (net metering) with power produced over the end users consumption to be purchased by SaskPower.

The cost of the technology and installation would be repaid through an assessment on the property’s power or energy bill that would not exceed the amount saved through usage reductions or net metering.

It would use a revolving fund model: as the fund replenished by payback, the next generation of projects would be funded.

In his speech, Meili said, “Renew Saskatchewan will create thousands of local jobs in manufacturing, installation, retrofitting and maintenance. It will drop your power bills right away, and in a few years get them down to almost nothing. It will create revenue opportunities for farmers, homeowners, small towns and reserves through a new approach to net metering that will allow producers to sell extra electricity back to the grid. It will increase Saskatchewan’s supply of clean electrical power and significantly reduce our use of energy and our carbon emissions.

“And, and this is perhaps the most exciting part, as the loans are repaid the money can be re-used, a revolving fund, for the next phase and the phase after that,” Meili said.”

Premier Scott Moe, in an interview in Estevan later the same day, reacted by saying, “It’s really an idea as opposed to a policy. It’s a feed-in tariff, with respect to trying to finance that over the longer term.

“The fact of the matter is there’s already incentives with respect to small-scale producers that was enhanced by an announcement the other day by Minister (Dustin) Duncan the other day. The idea they’ve come forward with is really nothing more than a climate Ponzi scheme, to be honest. Now we have a federal carbon tax shell game and a provincial opposition Ponzi scheme released here today

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