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Medicine Hat, Alberta, threw a cool $12 million into a solar facility that still cannot compete with natural gas; it’s bitter medicine.
This one is a pitch perfect illustration of the foolishness that is the premise green energy can compete with natural gas. It has to do with the City of Medicine hat, Alberta, which is located roughly halfway between Calgary and Helena, Montana. It has a population of 63,000+ folks and is known as “The Gas City” because of tremendous natural gas reserves under it. Just six years ago, the city blew through $6 million of its taxpayers’ money plus another $3 million each from the province and federal government to build a concentrated solar thermal facility. It was, at the time, “expected to generate enough energy to power 150 homes per year and is one step towards reaching the city’s goal of relying on renewable energy for 25 per cent of its electricity by 2025.” But, last year it was already done as in kaput.
The odd thing, although not so surprising in the world of green ideology, I suppose, is that it was well known, long before any money was thrown away, that the thing made no sense whatsoever and was nothing but green virtue signaling with other people’s money (emphasis added).
City officials in Medicine Hat, Alta. say it was easy to find money for the city’s new solar-thermal power project.
The project, which was announced on Wednesday, will see one megawatt of power generated a year for the price of $9 million.
Deputy Mayor Ted Clugston admitted that makes zero economic sense. But he said city council thought the green project was morally the right thing to do.
The provincial and federal governments — which each kicked in $3 million — agreed.
“We’ve been trying to build a new hockey rink here in Medicine Hat, we’ve been trying to build overpasses, we haven’t had a school built in 29 years, and we’ve been asking money for those things and we can’t get them,” said Clugston.
“But anytime you’re doing anything for the environment in Alberta it seems to be easier to track other levels of funding.”
…Clugston said Medicine Hat is the perfect location because it’s Canada’s sunniest city.
Medicine Hat’s power plant also provides electricity to Redcliff, Dunmore, Veinerville and outlying rural areas. It generates about 200 megawatts a year, so the solar-thermal project will represent about 0.5 per cent of the plant’s total output.
The city contributed the remaining $3 million.
The project is expected to be completed by the fall of 2012.
Well, by 2014, when completed, Medicine Hats had put another $3 million into the boondoggle taking the total cost to $12 million or $24 million per megawatt. For those of you who live on Planet Ithaca or in some other fractivist paradise and can no longer count, this means facilities of this sort would cost $48 billion just to replace one 1,000 MW combined cycle gas fueled power plant and, because the solar energy is non-dispatchable, you’d still need the gas plant! How much crazier can one get? How much are folks willing to bear for green political correctness?
Quite a bit as it turns out, because they apparently later elected then Deputy Mayor, Ted Clugston, as their actual Mayor to complete the project in 2014 and later preside, in 2019, over the demise of this solar fiasco:
A concentrated solar thermal (CST) plant seemed like a good idea at one time — circa 2009 — but this week, the city of Medicine Hat pointed its solar panels down, shuttering the facility after five years of operation.
Collin Gallant, a reporter at the Medicine Hat News, said Wednesday in an interview with the Calgary Eyeopener that the plant wasn’t a bad idea gone wrong, but rather a victim of persistently low natural gas prices.
“Back when this was thought up as an energy savings program, natural gas was about seven times more expensive than it is today,” Gallant said…
Back in 2014, when it opened, Medicine Hat Mayor Ted Clugston was bullish on solar thermal energy.
“The idea behind this project is helping to save gas — some day we will run out of it,” Clugston said…
“Medicine Hat took a bold step with the project, coming up with the idea at a time when gas prices were extremely high,” said [Cal Lenz, Medicine Hat’s commissioner of energy and utilities]. “Innovation takes valiant moves, and this project is certainly an example of the city’s leadership as we continually explore energy solutions.”
“It’s been built, it works, but the decision right now in Medicine Hat is just to mothball it until natural gas prices go up again,” Gallant said.
The challenge is that natural gas prices have remained stubbornly low and there’s no timetable that sees them rising to a level that would make operating the plant economically feasible in the near term, he added…
The project, Gallant added, is one of a number of sustainability-oriented projects initiated by Medicine Hat.
“The City of Medicine Hat has a fairly forward thinking about renewable energy. We’ve had a solar home subsidy grant here for about 10 years,” he said, also noting wind purchase contracts, home turbines and other renewable projects.
“We’re ‘The Gas City,’ but that allowed us to do some interesting things here.”
“The provincial and federal governments chose our city to lead the project and foster learning about this technology, and this objective has been successfully achieved.”
Well, that’s what you bitter medicine and a case of grinning and bearing it. While the taxpayers finally had enough, it seems the ideologues never, ever surrender their dreams, even when they turn out to be nightmares. Here was the dream, now crushed:
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