Ralph Klein has gone and it is time to retire Ralph's World. Thanks to all of you who have supported this venture by contributing material and through your comments. It has been fun.

Should we get another blog underway? Let me know your thoughts by e-mailing me at johnnyslow@gmail.com.

John Slow
January 1, 2007

Tuesday, August 03, 2004

Klein's power dream more questions than answers! 

Following is a correpondence I received from a MSc Electrical Engineering. He voices valid concerns about questions that remaine unanswered. A worth while read! His e-mail at the bottom for your direct questions.

Original message:

I believe that I would qualify as an expert witness in regard to the possibility of spontaneous combustion and the extended ramifications of that event but I doubt that the haul road as such is really germaine to my concerns.

What is germaine to my concerns is the fact that the haul road may take the place of the railroad in transporting the coal to Luscar. Heavy snow falls at Cadomin were infrequent but, when they came, traffic was at a stand-still. Thus I worry that the coal might be stockpiled to depths greater than 15 feet and that spontaneous combustion could result when heavy snowfalls would prevent the removal and transportation to Luscar by the proposed haul road.

The coal seam at Cadomin had large amounts of methane gas. Indeed methane gas was the cause of a primary explosion that claimed the life of the father of one of my childhood playmates. If a fire starts in an open pit mine that has high amounts of methane gas in the seam that fire will be very difficult to extinguish, maybe impossible to extinguish. The ecological damage could be immense.

I have prepared expert witness testimony when I was employed in a large consulting engineering firm in the USA, not just once but several times. The expert witness testimony was presented by a Senior vice-President. In one case the testimony was for an electric utility that was suing its insurance carrier and the utility won $7 million!

You might wish to forward a copy of this reply to the AEUB or other persons. If so, by all means do so!



On Thursday July 1, 2004 the Edmonton Journal reported that the average cost of electric energy for Wednesday June 30, 2004 had been 12.1 cents per kilowatt-hour, the price of oil was $48.49 and the price of natural gas had been $6.28, all Canadian prices.

I have seen official publications from the Alberta Department of Energy, sent to me by the Honorable Murray Smith, which show that the Deparment expects 1000 megawatts of new generation from a new powerplant near Brooks and 900 megawatts of new generation from additions to TransAlta's Keephills powerplant by the end of 2006. Both powerplants would burn coal.

When there was debate as to whether a third unit would be allowed to be constructed at EPCOR's Genesee or at TransAlta's Keephills, the decision was given in favor of EPCOR because EPCOR promised that it would retrofit environmental improvements if they became available whereas TransAlta would not make such a promise. Therefore the third unit for Keephills (900 megawatts) at any time in the near future is a very improbable possibility.

In the early spring of 1992 an article appeared in the Calgary Herald which indicated that Fording Coal was very interested in constructing a powerplant at Brooks. At that time Fording owned the rights to a very large field of high-grade heating coal at Brooks but sold those rights about two years ago.

Later in the spring of 1992 I had a very interesting telephone call from one of the senior engineers of Fording in which I learned the scope of the project. Fording wanted permission to construct a powerplant consisting of twin 400 megawatt units.

Perhaps the new owners of the coal field have upgraded the size of the powerplant to twin 500 megawatt units but I am skeptical. It is fairly standard practice to rate turboalternators in mega-volt-amperes at 80% powerfactor so, if you multiply 500 MVA by 0.8 you obtain 400 megawatts.

Whether the new owners were planning twin 500 megawatt units or twin 400 megawatt units is barely germaine, however. If the new owners really are seriously interested in constructing this powerplant we probably would have heard the news and there would have been notices of some hearings: have any of you received or read of such notices??? Absent such notices of hearings one would need at least an additional year for the hearings to be conducted so detailed design could not be started until August 2005. Assuming that approval is granted in early August 2005 it would take about a year and a half to complete detailed design and about four years to construct, under priority conditions. The best that we could hope for 1000 megawatts to be available from this hypothetical powerplant would be 2010.

I conclude that Albertans should expect many days, between now and August 1, 2010, when the average daily price of electric energy will exceed 12 cents per kilowatt-hour.

The only way that we can alleviate this problem is to insist that new powerplants of very large size, burning coal, with very good polution control, be constructed as quickly as possible because we will not be able to purchase enough power from B.C. Hydro to fill the deficit. We will need the coal at Cadomin so we should not allow it to be exported.

Allan Dane, M.Sc.(EE)
11234 - 71 Ave. NW
Edmonton, AB, T6G 0A6

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