Unsolicited Advice

It looks like we may get a new government.  Evidently Canadian parliamentarians are fed up with the basic meanness of the current government.  From puffin poo, to attack ads that verge on slander, to an effort to cut funding for political parties, it is difficult to see how the opposition can ever trust Harper.  So, if a new government is coming in, or indeed, if the current government sees a need to provide stimulus, I will provide some suggestions that will create jobs, and benefit the environment at the same time.


For stimulus to have a proper impact, it has to start working in the near term.  Investing in a nuclear plant, for example, takes years with fairly few jobs doing engineering and approvals, followed by construction 6-10 years later, where the real job creation occurs.  Nuclear does not stimulate the economy now, and therefore should not be on the list, at least not as a stimulus package.

1.  The budget for the ecoEnergy for Renewable Power is about to run out.  It is an incentive program that provides 1 cent/kWh for 10 years to renewable energy projects.  Replenish this budget.  It will help keep projects flowing without interruption.  The near term funds required to do this are zero, as the incentive is not paid until a project is built, and then is only paid over 10 years. 

2.  Change the rules on class 43.2 depreciation so that start up firms, and firms without taxable profits can get a cash benefit from the accelerated depreciation.  Cost to treasury in the long run:  zero.  The “Specified Business Corporation” rule is what needs changing, or making the depreciation eligible for a refundable tax credit.  It will broaden the number of companies that can build projects and it will improve project viability.

3.  Convene a meeting with Provincial Ministers of Energy within 30 days, and plan on supporting them in doing additional procurement of renewable energy on a priority basis.  A budget needs to be available for this.  Priority should be on non-emitting technologies that can be deployed quickly.

4.  Provide strong incentives for the next 5000 MW of energy efficient combined heat and power.  These are often retrofits of industrial processes, or central heating systems at universities or hospitals.  They can be built fairly quickly (1-2 years), and will drastically improve our energy efficiency, and our industrial competitiveness.

5.  Meet with Canada’s railways to draw up plans to electrify the network within 5 years.  Electric power systems are much more efficient than diesel engines, so much of the cost of this would be recovered in lower fuel costs, but governments will need strong tax and other incentives to get railways moving.  While they are at it, maybe we need an electric locomotive manufacturer in Canada. 

6.  Provide the $2 billion/year that municipalities say is needed for investment in transit systems.  Much of this spending can occur quickly – such as new bus purchases.  It will cut emissions, ease congestion, and reduce our fuel costs.

7.  If we must bail out car companies, fuel efficiency standards need to be a part of it.  And if we are bailing out the big 3, we need to remember that Honda and Toyota need to be treated fairly.  They are as much a part of Canada’s car economy as the big 3.  And it should include re-tooling for companies to build more fuel efficient cars.

8.   Create incentives for biogas from farm waste.  Germany gets 3.5% of its power from farm waste – we just don’t have the incentives. 

9.  Provide low cost loans or green bonds for energy saving or green energy production intitiatives.  Credit is a major problem right now.

 What will be the result?  Jobs will be created in the near term.  Fuel costs will decrease in the long term.  The economy’s exposure to future energy price spikes or carbon price will diminish.  The air will be cleaner. 

Hmm…  Why are we waiting for an economic crisis before acting?

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