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Uneven electrical bills could create a National Electric Strategy

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Is it time to have or implement a National Electrical Strategy?

I live in Red Deer, a small city in Central Alberta. My electrical bill last month was $95.

The average household, according to Google, in Canada uses 972 KWHs monthly, but I used 848 KWHs last month, so if I had been an average user then my bill would have been $109.

My electrical bill shows that my electrical use cost only $32.40 while administration cost $6.99, distribution cost $25.90 transmission fees cost $23.86, include access fees, rate riders and balancing pool allocations and GST and my bill came to $95.

Talk of carbon taxes, green energy would increase my energy costs. Fine, increasing my energy costs by 10% would mean an increase of only $3.24 because all the other charges should not go up. Changing fuel or supply should not affect administrators, power lines, poles or switches.

I started requesting electric bills from homes in other parts of Alberta and the costs varied from 3.75/ kwh to 5.99/kwh and the other costs varied in name and amount for varying total costs per kwh from 11.7 to 15.75/kwh. So at 848 kwh my bill would go from $95 up to $133.56 depending on location.

Alberta is deregulated and you have options of providers. Floating and fixed rates, but the other fees are always added.

A home in Vancouver showed an average 11.37/kwh so my bill would be $96.50, very similar to my Alberta bill. Vancouver is vastly different and denser market. Vancouver has 5,249 people per km. or 2100 homes per square km.

Alberta has a population of 4,252,879 people in 640,081.87 sq. kms. For a density of 6.7 people per square km. or 2.7 homes per square km. So you would think that the costs would be astronomically higher to compensate for the vast distances, and the increased wiring, poles, and installation of such, but apparently not.

So I thought about Ontario. Population of 13,982.984 in 908,607 square kms of land. 15.4 people or 6.2 homes per square kms. More than twice the density of Alberta. The transmission and distribution costs should be equal to or less than sparsely populated Alberta. I started requesting power bills from home owners in Ontario, especially in rural Ontario.

The first bill came from Winchester, 40 kms. from Ottawa. It showed a monthly usage of 661.24 KWHs. Energy costs varied from 8.7/kwh of low peak to 18/kwh during high peak for energy cost of $79.06. Add in delivery charge of $65.41, regulatory fees and HST and the bill comes to $164.96. Or 25/kwh. My current bill would now be $211.55 if I lived in Winchester.

The second bill came from a family outside Chesterville. It showed higher usage, perhaps because of location, age of appliances or lifestyle. Energy use of 1281 KWHs for a bill of $278.93 or 22/kwh. My bill would then be $184.65 if I lived outside Chesterville.

Albertans get their power from natural gas (44%), coal (39%) and even hydro (6%) while Ontario get their power from Nuclear, (66%) and Hydro (22%) But in Alberta, we are expecting increases in our power bills due to carbon taxes, green initiatives and the new power lines being built to the southern border. Paid for by current users to provide power south of the border. Ontario has some similar changes and challenges ahead to incur expectations of increased costs. Is this proper?

Alberta is only 70% the size of Ontario, our population is only 30% of Ontario, yet Alberta power bills are substantially lower. Capitalists will tell you that larger markets like Ontario, means lower costs, as one would also expect with increased density as in this case, Ontario.

Alberta deregulated the electrical sector increasing competition. Would that help or exasperate the problem in Ontario? Should the vast majority of urban homes subsidize the rural users? Should a standard rate be applied to all in Ontario?

To recap with averages of 972 KWHs per home per month it would cost $110.61 in Vancouver B.C., $108.90 in Red Deer Ab., $242.48 in Winchester Ont. And $211.65 in Chesterville Ont. Definitely not a level playing field, is it?

Is it time for the Federal Government to create a National Electrical Strategy? We could at least study on it.

What do you think?

 

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Amid threats to members, House to vote on new security

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WASHINGTON (AP) — Colorado Rep. Jason Crow, a former Army Ranger who served three tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, says it took time for him to stop constantly scanning his environment for threats when he returned from war 15 years ago. But after the violent insurrection at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, he says he’s picked the habit up again.

Crow was trapped with several other members of Congress in the upper gallery of the U.S. House that day while a mob of President Donald Trump’s supporters tried to beat down the doors to the chamber and stop the certification of President Joe Biden’s victory.

Crow says he never would have thought “in a million years” he’d be in that situation in the Capitol, but some of his old training has since kicked in, like looking in his rear-view mirror and assessing if people around him might be carrying a gun. Like almost every other member of Congress, his office has received threats against his life.

“There’s no doubt that members are on edge right now,” Crow says, and the threats from outside “are unfortunately the reality of congressional life.”

Those threats have more than doubled this year, according to the U.S. Capitol Police, and many members of Congress say they fear for their personal safety more than they did before the siege. Several say they have boosted security measures to protect themselves and their families, money for which will be part of a broad $1.9 billion spending bill that the House will vote on this week, along with a separate measure that would create a bipartisan commission to investigate the Jan. 6 attack. Democrats, in particular, say both bills are crucial to try to reconcile the trauma that many still feel.

“This was an armed assault on our democracy, and I’m a witness — I’m a victim and a witness to it,” says New Hampshire Rep. Annie Kuster. She received treatment for post-traumatic stress after she was also trapped in the House gallery that day and heard rioters trying to break through the doors close to where she was hiding.

Kuster says she thought she was going to die before officers cleared the hallways and hustled her and others out. “I think we need a full investigation with a Jan. 6th commission, and I believe that the Capitol Police who saved our lives that day deserve more support,” she says.

Democrats say a bipartisan commission investigating the attack, including what led to it, is more important than ever after some Republicans have recently started to downplay the severity of the insurrection, portraying the rioters who brutally beat officers with flagpoles and other weapons and broke into the Capitol through windows and doors as peaceful patriots.

Many Republicans who initially condemned Trump for telling his supporters to “fight like hell” that day have increasingly stayed quiet on his repeated false claims that the election was stolen, even though that was rebuked by numerous courts, bipartisan election officials across the country and Trump’s own attorney general. It’s unclear how many in the GOP will vote for either bill.

Rep. Andrew Clyde, R-Ga., said at a hearing last week that a video feed of the rioters looked like they were on a “normal tourist visit.” Rep. Paul Gosar, R-Ariz., said a woman who was shot and killed by police as she tried to break through a window adjacent to the House chamber was “executed,” and he argued that the Justice Department is harassing those who have been arrested.

Michigan Rep. Dan Kildee, a Democrat who also says he suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder after the attack, said those comments were “really hard to take” after witnessing the insurrection. He says he’s received an increased number of threats since January, especially when he has spoken on TV about treatment he received in the aftermath. Some of the calls and messages are specific and credible threats, he says, while many others are “abusive, threatening type language.”

The security spending bill would provide congressional offices with more money to combat those threats, including enhanced travel security, upgrades to home-district offices and better intelligence to track people down. The bill would also “harden” the complex by reinforcing doors and windows, adding security vestibules and cameras and providing dollars for removable fencing that could quickly be erected during a threatening situation while leaving the Capitol open to visitors.

Like many members, Republican Rep. Rodney Davis of Illinois says he feels as if the threats are more acute in his home district, where there is less security. On Capitol Hill, lawmakers are currently protected by a tall fence and National Guard troops who have been there since Jan. 6. Members are “as safe as ever” there, he says, but “it’s those times when you’re not in the Capitol, I think that’s where the threats seem to emanate from the most.”

Davis knows that well, as one of several Republican members who was at a baseball practice four years ago in Alexandria, Virginia, when a gunman wounded Rep. Steve Scalise, R-La., and four other people. And in 2019, an Illinois man was arrested for “threatening to blow my head off,” as Davis puts it. Randall Tarr pleaded guilty to federal charges and was sentenced to probation.

As the top Republican on the House Administration Committee, which oversees the Capitol Police, Davis has pushed for the force to be more aggressive in arresting those who threaten members and to reform the arcane command structure in Congress that forces the chief to ask for permission before making major decisions. The security spending bill would not do that, but it would boost Capitol Police training and pay for new equipment after the force was badly overrun on Jan. 6.

In the meantime, members are upgrading their personal security. Rep. Jim Himes, D-Conn., says he’s started using his house alarm more often and has been more cautious in recent months. “I’ve definitely felt less secure since Jan. 6 than I did before,” says Himes, who sits on the House intelligence committee.

Some say it’s easier not to know what’s going on. Illinois Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi, a Democrat, said he’s generally adopted a “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy with his staff on security matters since the insurrection, and he doesn’t ask why when a police car sometimes shows up in front of his house to guard it.

“I don’t necessarily want to know the full story,” says Krishnamoorthi, who has young children. “I just trust that law enforcement is doing their job.”

Kuster says she is feeling better these days after taking advantage of employee assistance resources in the Capitol. Still, she says her experience was “really, really difficult,” especially because she received a death threat as soon as she arrived home to New Hampshire after the insurrection. Home was the one place “I can usually feel safe,” she says.

She said she regularly talks to and texts with her colleagues who have also had post-traumatic stress, and she says some of them are still hurting.

“We need a security plan so that everyone can feel safe here,” Kuster says. “I want the ‘people’s house’ to be able to reopen.”

Mary Clare Jalonick, The Associated Press

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Tories demand more info on investigation into general overseeing vaccine campaign

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OTTAWA — Federal Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole is blasting the Liberal government for not providing Canadians with more information about why the general overseeing Canada’s COVID-19 vaccination campaign has been forced to step aside.

The Department of National Defence issued a terse three-line statement on Friday evening announcing that Maj.-Gen. Dany Fortin was leaving his role because of an unspecified “military investigation.”

Some experts have since criticized the lack of details around the nature of that investigation given the importance of his position and recent concerns about a lack of transparency and accountability from the military.

O’Toole is now echoing those criticisms, calling on the Liberal government to be transparent with Canadians, suggesting its failure to do so represents a threat to the public’s confidence in the military and the vaccine campaign.

O’Toole is also demanding the government announce who will be taking over from Fortin, who has declined to comment, and managing the vaccination campaign.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is scheduled to take questions from reporters today for the first time since news of Fortin’s reassignment on Friday.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 17, 2021.

The Canadian Press

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