23 February 2010

A plan versus not-a-plan

Rhode Island just unveiled its green energy plan.

You can tell it is a plan because there are clearly defined targets with measureable goals to be achieved in order to reach the goals. The plan centres on four subjects:

  1. advanced manufacturing,
  2. energy efficiency,
  3. innovation, and,
  4. wind power.

The plan maps out activities in two phases within each of the four areas. There’s also a reference to a state energy strategy. Notice that the strategy has some defined policy goals:

  • increase energy supply
  • reduce demand, and
  • stabilize prices.

These are goals that relate to environmental sustainability as well as affordability (for consumers). 

Compare that – if you dare -- to the local provincial energy “plan”.  There are no clearly defined goals or targets. There are simply vague statements like “environmental leadership”  or “effective governance” that are labelled as goals.

No one can tell where the province is going in this plan.  That’s just as well because not only won’t we know where we are when we get there, there really isn’t any set of signposts or milestones that can be used along the journey so that people can tell if we are headed in the right direction in the first place.

Rather, you can find vague platitudes like this one:

Ensure that any future fiscal regimes provide maximum returns to the people of this province and are designed to respond to changing

In places, actions become ends in and of themselves.  The equity stakes and development of the energy corporation are set as actions goals but there is no clear description of how they relate to what the plan refers to as goals. One can wander through the pages and never understand how having a state-owned energy company with a merely 10% of a particular project gives “environmental leadership”, for example.

Plans -- properly laid plans – are a key part of making government effective, accountable and transparent.

The Rhode Island plan contains all the necessary elements of a plan.  Look at it five years from now and you’ll be able to tell quickly and easily if the state is making progress to actually reach the targets set.

The Newfoundland and Labrador has lots of words in it but there is no way of knowing if the targets are being met. What’s worse, the goals aren’t really goals.  if owning a 10% equity stake was a major objective, the provincial government would not, at the same time, also look to sell the stakes for a quick buck.


h/t renewnewengland.com