Sunday, January 13, 2008

Pembina Institute starts throwing rocks in a glass house

The Pembina Institute recently gave a failing grade for environmental protection to almost every oilsand mine in Alberta, but in doing so forgot the adage "Never give a sermon, unless you can walk naked in front of the congregation.

Like reverend Ted Haggard, the disgraced evangelical minister of the 14,000 strong New Life Church in Denver Colorado, the Pembina Institute has some dirty laundry it would not to have displayed in public.

Ted Haggard, as you may remember, was a vocal opponent of gay lifestyles and same sex marriages, until sadly, a male prostitute named Mike Jones told a radio show in Denver that he had been paid to have sex with Mr. Haggard almost monthly over a period of nearly three years.

Likewise, the Pembina Institute is selling carbon offsets, otherwise known as wind power certificates, that actually profits the largest carbon dioxide emitter in Canada. After the Pembina Institute strips off 50% of the purchase price of the wind power certificate for "Administration Fees" the remaining value of the certificate goes to Vision Quest Windelectric, a wholly owned subsidiary of Transalta Utilities. Transalta Utilities also owns the Sundance Generating Plant west of Edmonton which, according to a October 6, 2006 article in the Edmonton Journal, emits a whopping 16.5 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalents and is the largest carbon dioxide emitter in Canada. The Sundance facility produces almost double of the carbon dioxide than either Syncrude or Suncor, both who received failing grades from the Pembina Institute.

The Canadian non-profit Pembina Institute has decided to cash in on the recent wave of environmental emotionalism by selling Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs). Identical to trading carbon credits, the REC’s, advertised as a fast and easy way to make a difference, are not concerned about reducing consumption, they simply allow purchasers to consume energy ad infinitum guilt-free by paying a self-imposed fine. The institute’s claim that a consumer can become “carbon neutral” by purchasing REC’s is the equivalent of obese people becoming “calorie neutral” by paying money to the Canadian Olympic team and having the athletes exercise for them.

The Pembina Institute cannot actually separate and send only wind generated electrons into your home, so the REC holder will actually be receiving electricity from exactly the same source as every one else. Nor can the REC be used to offset your current electricity bill, so the bottom line is that the consumer is actually getting the same product as the neighbours, but paying triple the price. The REC’s cannot be used as a charitable donation and have no resale value once they are purchased.

Of the $27 per megawatt cost of the REC (the average home uses 8 megawatts of electricity per year) 50% is retained as an administration fee by the Pembina Institute while the rest of the money goes to the general revenue account of Vision Quest Windelectric, a division of Transalta Energy Corporation; the largest non regulated electrical generation company in Canada.

Traded on the both the New York and Toronto stock exchanges, Transalta’s net earnings were for 2005 were in excess of $173 million dollars. In 2005, Transalta used part of the REC’s to buy a 50% stake in Epcor’s $695 million 495-megawatt coal fired generator at Genesee west of Edmonton. Transalta also plans to partner with Epcor on building Keephills 3, a 450-megawatt coal burner slated to come on stream in 2011. Environmentalists buying RECs to help Vision Quest develop wind power would be like Iraqi refugees buying war bonds to support the American military

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