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LETTER: There’s no free lunch with federal subsidies

Should Albertans be suspicious when a "gift horse" shows up at the gate. Why, yes, they should.
Scott Seaman 0108 BWC
Foothills County has postponed a decision on installing solar panels on the roof of the Scott Seaman Sports Rink. (Brent Calver/Western Wheel)

Dear Editor, 

Re: Solar project shouldn't be viewed with suspicion, letter to the editor, March 8 

Not everyone thinks that accepting federal funding is a good idea. Emile Rocher discounts concerns about the solar PV rooftop install proposed for the Scott Seaman Sports Rink as a "reflection of common attitude among Albertans." Profiling at its finest. 

Maybe, maybe not, but many Albertans have learned the hard way that all that glitters is not gold. One must overlook the fact that the Seaman family made its fortune in the unsubsidized oil business, but I digress. If the switch to wind and solar was that exciting, an 80 per cent subsidy would not be on offer. 
Should Albertans be suspicious when a "gift horse" shows up at the gate. Why, yes, they should. Action to fight the "existential" threat of climate change is how we got to this point.  

Foothills County could do its bit by taking the "free money" from Ottawa and building a solar farm on top of a sports rink, setting itself up to rake in massive profits at the general public’s expense. The overarching theory in this letter is that money from Ottawa is in fact free and that subsidized solar panel purchases from offshore benefit Canadians much more than the production of energy sitting right under our feet.  

Alberta has hundreds of years' worth of oil and gas reserves already connected to processing and distribution infrastructure which becomes more efficient and less expensive to produce as we speak. Experts say that switching to LNG (natural gas) can reduce emissions from other fossil fuel sources by as much as 40 per cent. Anyone who has been around for a while knows that fuel economy associated with SUVs and Albertans’ favourite, half tons, has improved immensely over the past 10 years. 

Oil men didn't come to Alberta back in the day looking for a government handout. Farmers didn't switch from horses to internal combustion engines because someone opened a cheque book or printed a pile of money to throw at them. Horses, energized by what is now defined as eco fuel, used up millions of acres of now productive farmland much like solar and wind farms. Are we subsidizing our way back to the future? 

Massive regulation, spending and giveaways by Ottawa have fueled inflation and driven up the cost of everything. Don't be fooled, money offered in subsidies is not free. That bill will come in the form of taxes, inflation, user fees, higher interest rates, whatever. There is no free lunch. 

Edward Osborne 

Foothills County