Obviously feeling enough heat to overlook the political folk wisdom that if you’re explaining you’re losing, the Alberta government released a wordy “fact sheet” yesterday attempting to explain why no one should fret about its freeze on new renewable-energy electricity-generation projects. 

Alberta Utilities Minister Nathan Neudorf (Photo: Alberta Newsroom/Flickr).

According to an accompanying statement by United Conservative Party “Electricity Minister” Nathan Neudorf, as Premier Danielle Smith recently called her utilities minister, the fact sheet was drafted “in response to misinformation being developed and released by interest groups.”

The timing of the statement and fact sheet suggest that Mr. Neudorf was attempting to respond to another fact sheet published by the Pembina Institute on Thursday. 

If so, that Pembina fact sheet must’ve landed in Mr. Neudorf’s office with an almighty thud! 

In that document, the Calgary-based clean-energy think tank estimated that 24,000 jobs and $33 billion in renewable-resource generated electricity investments have been put at risk by the government moratorium, and that 118 projects now in development “are either waiting for permitting approval or could submit an approval application within the next few months.” (Emphasis added.)

Apparently in response, the duelling government fact sheet claims “only the 13 projects” before the Alberta Utilities Commission for which approval is being sought now “will be paused.” However, since the government is accepting no more applications until the end of its seven-month moratorium, which began Aug. 3, this effort to minimize its impact is not very persuasive. 

Alberta Premier Danielle Smith (Photo: Alberta Newsroom/Flickr).

Indeed, it contradicts a statement in the document’s previous paragraph that “the pause temporarily stops the approval of additional projects.” 

Elsewhere, the government fact sheet says, “105 of the cited 118 proposals are months and in some cases years away from the application being presented to the AUC for approval.” This is spin. No convincing argument is made in the document that refutes the Pembina fact sheet’s analysis of potential risk.

A strong argument could be made – and one expects that it will be in the next 24 hours – that it’s Mr. Neudorf and the UCP who are doing the misleading on this point and others in the government’s 2,500-word fact sheet and minister’s statement. 

For example, having seen Premier Smith’s claims that the freeze was urgently requested by the AUC and the Alberta Electric System Operator debunked by critics of the moratorium, Mr. Neudorf’s statement phrases it as “the Alberta Utilities Commission’s pause.” The fact sheet itself is somewhat more factual: “The AUC asked the government for policy and regulatory clarity about the issues being considered,” it explained. “In response, the government chose to instruct the AUC to hold an inquiry on these issues.” (Emphasis added.)

This was done, the government document claims, “in fairness to the proponents of applications which had not been received yet.”

This may or may not be so, but it clearly was not accepted as being fair to the interests of the proponent companies, at least those the Reuters news service and Wall Street Journal reported have put their projects on hold and may pull out of Alberta. 

The statement repeats at tedious length the government’s position that for every kilowatt of electricity generated by renewable energy such as wind and solar an equivalent amount of natural-gas-powered generating capacity must be built for those times when the sun don’t shine and the wind don’t blow. 

This is accurate enough to be dangerous, I suppose, although it skips past the reality that peak energy use hours in Alberta often happen when the sun’s shining and the temperature’s high, but I’ll leave it to the actual experts to argue the merits of the government’s statement.

As for the claim rural municipalities also demanded the freeze, which likewise appears to be an exaggeration at best, the fact sheet points out that they did too raise the matter forcefully – at the 2018 convention of the Rural Municipalities of Alberta. You know, when the NDP was still in power!

Elsewhere the government fact sheet, which is formatted like an Internet Frequently-Asked-Questions page, asks: “What is the plan for engagement with industry impacted groups?” 

“This pause creates the opportunity for serious conversation,” the response cheerfully begins. The question that is not answered, however, and the one that really matters, is: Why wasn’t the industry consulted or even informed about the moratorium before it was announced? On that, the fact sheet is silent. 

Another Question: “Are we going to miss out on investments because of this pause?” The answer: Yay Alberta! We’re No. 1! (My summary, not the government’s words, but read it for yourself and say I’m wrong.) 

While the UCP may be explaining, it’s not about to apologize. “Our government won’t apologize for putting Albertans ahead of corporate interests,” the fact sheet states defiantly, an absurd statement for a government whose leader says she prefers only to listen to CEOs for policy advice!

The government FAQ attempts to reassure potential investors that the UCP remains committed to the market-based system for electricity distribution. No comfort there for electricity users, of course. 

But, the document says piously, “competition ensures better quality products,” so I guess we can assume that just like its oil, Alberta has the best electricity in the world too! 

Surprisingly, the fact sheet’s effort to blame Ottawa’s proposed clean-energy regulations seemed half-hearted. But the proposed federal rules make it especially important that Alberta “properly” develop renewables, it nevertheless insisted.

Bottom line: Nothing is changing. The moratorium will continue. The principal criticisms of the freeze have been met with many words, but not really answered.

Join the Conversation


  1. The UCP are just not trustworthy, and even with all the evidence of this, people were foolish and re-elected them. It’s not going to be a pleasant four years. Albertans have a hard time learning, so they end up learning the hard way. In the end, Albertans are no better off.

      1. Death and Gravity: Albertans don’t learn from their mistakes, and re-elected the UCP, and look at the big mess the UCP are continuing to make.

    1. “…for every kilowatt of electricity generated by renewable energy such as wind and solar an equivalent amount of natural-gas-powered generating capacity must be built..”

      How did we ever manage without Danielle Smith, an expert in everything from health care to energy. Sarcasm aside, the above statement is absurd. With some energy storage, an integrated grid can run on green power alone. Just ask an expert.

  2. I was hoping they’d explain how one oil and gas company had the foresight to divest its renewable energy holdings just before the moratorium became public knowledge and before renewables companies found out. I guess I’ll be waiting for hell or Alberta or hellberta to freeze over.

    I have a theory that the only way the UCP makes sense is to look at it as a cult. Everything the leader says is accepted at face value by the true believers, even if it is illogical and contradicts evidence. Just follow the leader, monkey see, monkey do.

    Expect more irrational behavior and harmful decisions in the future. If you’re not a true believer, you probably live in a city. You are the problem.

    1. This is fair. But who is the leader? Danielle Smith, or her puppet master, David Parker. Oh, sorry, Mr. Parker says he ain’t nobody’s puppet master. My mishtake.

      1. The answer could be neither. It could be the man pulling levers behind the curtains, or as one podcast described him, the man who laid eggs on the dark side of the moon. Maybe we should ask the IDU.

      2. If this was a casino I would be putting big stacks of chips down on him being able to say that with a straight face because he indeed has his own puppet master or masters. The aforementioned “coincidental” renewables play on the behalf of (I believe it was suncor?, correct) suggests a level of coordination above the provincial level. Who’s paying TBAs bills ? That would be a great place to start.

  3. All this talk about investments and jobs being at risk is starting to remind me of the good old oil patch days. Unless the government does this or provide that incentive investors are gonna pull out! Just who are these “investors” and what are their business plans? The whole things smacks of a gold rush mentality spurned on by government grants and tax laws. Don’t ask questions! We gotta SAVE THE PLANET! Yes we gotta save the planet with carbon credits.


    1. Ron, we do in fact have to save, not the planet, but ourselves from what the planet will do to us as a consequence of our actions. This is simple physics and we must do it with utmost haste. The planet is impervious to sarcasm, doesn’t give a whit for ideology, and will ruthlessly redistribute energy as physics demands regardless of race, class, or gender. We now have 5 years tops to start bending the carbon emissions curve, and our TBA government just decided to hem and haw for 1/10 of that precious time. You are a reader of the Guardian, so must know that practically alone among major newspapers the Guardian spends significant resources reporting on the urgency of this problem. In other words, I won’t bother sending links, but the problem is real and desperate whether you accept that or not.

      1. Five years? Now where I have heard this before. Oh yes, in 2018 when some Harvard professor said the Arctic ice shelf was going to be gone in 203 and we’ll be done like dinner. It’s 2023 and the Arctic ice is showing no signs of disappearing.

        Save the planet. That statement itself portrays a level of arrogance that is out of this world. The planet doesn’t need saving, even if we do manage to do ourselves in. The planet will keep chugging along with or without us.

        1. Oh, Ron. In your quest to try to appear as the smartest person in the chat room and own the left you’ve inadvertantly (and ironically) agreed to AAF’s entire point. Yes, the earth will continue; conditions that allow for human life won’t. That’s the entire bloody point of rectifying human-caused damage to the planet, unless if you are not concerned with the continuation of the human race?

          What’s the old saying about opening your mouth and removing all doubt? Without question you’ve come quite adept at removing all doubt about yourself!

  4. Once EVERY rooftop in the province is covered with solar panels it will be time to build facilities like the one pictured under the headline of this article. Put them over irrigation canals and get the added benefit of reduced evaporation. This runaway development of wind and solar power resembles the runaway development of oilsands, have we learned nothing?

    1. the runaway development of the oil sands that started in the 60s? It’s certainly had its peaks but it’s taken a good long while. Having said that if we don’t go much, much faster than we built the tar sands, we are lighting a carbon bomb and destroying our economy at the same time. As our fair blogger often points out, Canada never ran out of beavers, they just fell out favour as hats. This transition will happen one way or the other, and I for one would prefer it was managed with care, rather than ideological dithering that is bound to blow back on us in more ways than one.

      Btw; chairperson, who is paying TBAs bills , actually ? Inquiring minds want to know.

  5. “built for those times when the sun don’t shine and the wind don’t blow.”

    Most individuals, excluding the true believers and the stalwart disciples, know fully and completely where the sun does not shine and who and/or what is both blowing and sucking wind.

    HINT for the perennially ‘poor in spirit’:

    “In politics, it [bafflegab] is often used to describe the language used by politicians and bureaucrats to obscure their true intentions, evade accountability, or confuse the public. Like gobbledygook, it is often used to conceal information or to make it difficult for the public to understand the full implications of a particular policy or proposal. For example, a politician may use bafflegab to deflect criticism or to avoid answering difficult questions, by answering with language that is intentionally vague or misleading. One of the primary goals of bafflegab is to obscure the truth, and it is often used to hide the negative consequences of a particular policy or proposal.”


    1. Alkyl: Illustrating that point was the intention of m,y intentionally colloquial grammar. DJC

      1. Understood as:

        “Colloquialism (/kəˈloʊkwiəˌlɪzm, koʊ-/) – also called colloquial language, everyday language, or general parlance – is the linguistic style used for casual (informal) communication. It is the most common functional style of speech, the idiom normally employed in conversation and other informal contexts. Colloquialism is characterized by wide usage of interjections and other expressive devices; it makes use of non-specialist terminology, and has a rapidly changing lexicon. It can also be distinguished by its usage of formulations with incomplete logical and syntactic ordering.”

        Nevertheless the deliberate use of an affected cartoonish spectacle adopting an antagonist protagonist story line is always in the foreground:


        As in, “the protagonist and antagonist characters are often the main focus and essential in telling the story.” In this instance, the lobbyist/radio talk show host hero vs. not only the arch villain in Ottawa, but also the secret cabal of ‘socialists’, and ‘eco-terrorists’ who supposedly take their directions from billionaire capitalists.

        As such it is a bed time story that is only suitable for soft headed adults and imbecile children.

  6. So Alberta’s TBA government confirms all the claims from the critics of their ill-advised and stupid renewable pause.

    1. Chairperson: The electricity guru, eh? Now we know it’s you, Parker. DJC

  7. every kilowatt of electricity generated by renewable energy such as wind and solar an equivalent amount of natural-gas-powered generating capacity must be built for those times when the sun don’t shine and the wind don’t blow

    That statement is so blindingly stupid that I am surprised that even a UCP person could write it. I guess their knowledge of electricity does not go as far as batteries. Or pumped hydro storage. Or molten salt heat storage.

    As Pauli is supposed to have said’ “That is not only not right; it is not even wrong”.

    1. JKR: It is, admittedly, my sarcastic summation of the UCP position, intentionally using colloquial grammar for effect. Just sayin’. DJC

  8. How long must Albertans contend
    With misinformation the UCP sends?
    If all they can do is whine
    About when the sun don’t shine
    Then the answer is blowin’ in the wind.

  9. WWW. Some kind of wrestling show? Nah. World Wide Web? Nope. Wicked Witch of the West? Yup. You got it. Former radio host, part-time restaurateur and full-time truth magician. You have to (grudgingly) give her credit, like Trump, for keeping a death grip on our attention. Good luck bursting the bubble of mistruths and propaganda masquerading as government policy. Happy September everyone.

  10. The UCP government could have effectively “paused” or slowed approvals of petro-alternative energy projects and pursued its above-the-neck-zero policy of nullifying GHG-emissions those new technologies achieve by categorically matching them with an equal amount of GHG-emitting old technologies—and it could have done it in any number of bureaucratic, sand-bagging ways—and few would ever notice.

    But no: the government which disdains government must, perforce, do politics both apolitically and unapologetically. Danielle Smith’s UCP policy priority is posturing and therefore to be seen above the fuss and dust of its grunting resentments and political ineptitude—the Alberta version of the Clarity Act.

    Given there are only so many hours in the day, sustaining a culture war has to detract from ordinary administration otherwise for the public good. The Kenney UCP illustrated the effect when it stubbornly hung onto the dubious public expenditure that bought Albertans a Disney Big Foot Bogeyman instead of the promised cabal of anti-Alberta-energy underminers of bitumen mining. It could have easily buried that campaign promise and let it die the quiet demise of political memory. But no: with Sasquatch tracks leading to the podium, then-minister Sonya Savage rationalized that the expensive disappointment was worth it because it showed, at least, that Albertans were upset, if not actually victims of a foreign-based conspiracy.

    The UCP’s priority remains the same, only Danielle does it better—or worse, depending on one’s point of view. Through every dissonant contortion of politically partisan pandemonium —rebellion, betrayal, treachery, schism, usurpation, demagoguery, perfidy, &c—, the UCP underscores its culture-war posture unabashedly, proudly, perversely, blithely underhandedly and overtly ham-handedly—as in: ‘I don’t care if it rains or freezes, I still got my plastic Shiva, dancing on the dashboard of my truck.’

    It didn’t matter with Sasquatch then and it doesn’t matter now when nonsense makes sense: Albertans accepted the gutting of the Holy Heritage Fund (which, had it followed the Norwegian—or even the Lougheedian—model, might have been worth several hundred billion dollars by now), the starvation of its economic diversity, the pollution of its air and watersheds, the bill for cleaning up orphaned wellheads, the topping of its mountains, the Inquiry into Anti-Alberta-Energy bogeymen, and the election of a patented non-politician as leader of an anti-government government. No reason to expect Albertans won’t accept this latest effrontery to common sense. Is there?

    …no matter how preposterous.

  11. At this point the Danielle Smith/UCP/TBA may as well just state the obvious: we only want our kind of people living in Alberta.

    It’s worked in Alabama and Mississippi and it will work here, y’all.

    1. JM, I would contend that that has been their long term goal all along. Chase out the educated and progressives, leaving only the knuckle dragging true believers in a kind of perverse fascist Rapture. Only then will it be heaven in Alberta, especially for the UCP and their greasy friends who can loot and plunder completely unopposed.

      If anyone doubts this the evidence is there. Puppetmaster Parker has already clearly said his merry band of Christo-fascists will take over the school boards. If the thought of these cretins indoctrinating the next generation doesn’t make you sick then you’re likely beyond help. Scary times my friends…stay well!

  12. I agree, if you have to put out a fact sheet of frequently asked questions, it may be a sign there is a serious problem with the policy and its communication. In this case the biggest problem is the policy. Communication can only do so much to make a bad, poorly considered policy look better.

    This reminds me of the coal development idea in the eastern slopes that seemingly came out of nowhere. Except in that case presumably some in industry did want it. In this case, it is worse, neither industry or the public at large really wanted or anticipated this. This leads me to believe the UCP mostly came up with this kooky idea all on their own.

    I suppose there were probably some legitimate concerns about land use in rural areas. However, if there was concern about prime agricultural land, the policy should have specifically directed at that, rather than a blanket moratorium. Although, I suppose a government that is not very wise and doesn’t really know what to do might opt for a sledgehammer instead of a scalpel.

    Not only is the UCP unnecessarily shooting itself in the foot here, but it is hurting our economy and efforts at energy diversification too. The lack of thought and rigid ideology involved here is evident, but even worse this also reeks of incompetence.

    1. So-called FAQ sheets are actually a misnomer, since many are posted before anyone has had a chance to ask any questions at all, and so it is impossible to know what questions are most frequently asked.

  13. The UCP motto seems to be the following:


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