At yesterday’s Saskatchewan Roughrider game, Premier Wall announced provincial funding for a new stadium: an $80-million grant and a $100-million loan to be repaid over time through a surcharge on tickets. While it’s unclear why a stadium should be anywhere near the top of the priority list, a readiness to invest in public infrastructure is positive.
The province could generate more renewable electricity with a similar commitment: an initial capital investment by SaskPower plus a modest additional cost for consumers. Much as football fans will pay more for a new stadium, renewables may mean slightly higher rates for electricity users (which could be offset through compensatory transfers to low-income households). Furthermore, some forms of renewable power like hydro and large-scale wind that are already price-competitive with fossil fuels would not necessarily even entail higher rates.
In any case, the government has already shown itself willing to raise SaskPower rates, which were announced (perhaps not coincidentally) just a few days before the new stadium. As SOS Crowns noted, an important factor driving up rates was likely the policy of paying private operators to generate additional electricity rather than making the needed investments through SaskPower.
Given the Sask. Party’s inclination toward privatization and contracting out, yesterday’s willingness to make a direct public investment was somewhat refreshing. The challenge is to extend that willingness to areas of higher priority like energy and the environment.
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