South Peace News
The Alberta Forest Products Association is warning Albertans that soaring energy prices are soon coming.
“We see this as an issue that scares us,” said Brock Mulligan, AFPA senior vice president, who attended High Prairie town council’s Dec. 14 meeting by Zoom. He asked council to consider supporting the forest industry to “push back” against the Alberta Electric System Operator’s proposal to redesign their tariff.
Costs would increase 40 per cent for the forest industry, said Mulligan.
The result is lumber companies are generating their own power to save money. With less power drawn from the grid because of this, all consumers – industrial or residential – will pay more.
Mulligan disputes the claim that the redesign will save residential customers money.
“The average household would see less than $1 a month in savings,” Mulligan wrote in his report to council.
“Meanwhile, large industrial consumers [such as forest companies] would see substantially higher transmission rates.”
Mayor Brian Panasiuk responded.
“Tolko and West Fraser are significant employers in our region,” he said. “We recognize that.”
Mulligan added forest companies have already suffered from skyrocketing electric rates during the last decade.
“In an attempt to cope, they have invested heavily in technology and structured their business to avoid peak times – operating at peak power and transmission rates means they would lose money on the products they make. Adding even more cost makes it a very real possibility that one of these facilities could fail. The effects would ripple through entire communities and the entire forest industry.”
He added the transmission grid is already overbuilt.
“If a high load user were to fail [such as a forest company]. The costs would need to be borne by other users of the grid. The result is that electricity becomes less and less affordable. This hurts both residential and industrial consumers.”
Mulligan adds other industries that could be affected include steel making, concrete, chemical, fertilizer and other agricultural inputs.
“Collectively, these businesses are the economic lifeblood of rural Alberta.”
The result, he charges, is lost jobs and higher transmission costs.
AFPA facts and figures
- Creates 40,000 jobs in Alberta of which 20,000 are direct jobs working for forest companies. The remainder are indirect jobs in industries like road building and maintenance, equipment sales and maintenance, suppplies, consulting services and hospitality.
- In 2016, the forest industry contributed $8.8 million in family income in High Prairie.
- In 2016, the forest industry contributed $6.4 million in family income in Big Lakes County.
- In 2016, the forest industry contributed $14 million in family income in the M.D. of Lesser Slave River.
- In 2016, the forest industry contributed $4.4 million in income to Wabasca.
- In 2016, the forest industry contributed $7.5 million in income to Sucker Creek First Nation.