Alberta coal phase out would be 'devastating' to the Town of Hanna

Residents of Hanna, Alta., say the Alberta government’s plan to hasten the closure of the nearby coal mine and coal-fired power plant could be the death of their town.

About 200 people in town of 2,500 work in local coal mine and coal-fired power plant

Hanna Mayor Chris Warwick said Hanna residents are not "naive" and realize coal won't be used as a power source forever, but he believes speeding up the phase out of the fossil fuel would be disastrous for the coal-dependent town. (Mike Symington/CBC)

Residents of Hanna, Alta. say the Alberta government's plan to hasten the closure of the nearby coal mine and coal-fired power plant could be the death of their town.

The province's new climate-change plan includes an accelerated phase out of Alberta's dependence on coal, which accounted for 55 per cent of electricity generation in Alberta in 2014.

Premier Rachel Notley announced a new target on Sunday to eliminate coal as a power source altogether by 2030.

Hanna Mayor Chris Warwick said such a rapid change would be "devastating" to his town.

"We're not naive enough to think that coal generation is here forever," he said. "But, in the same regard, to shorten up that span, it's going to have an impact. That's only 16 years from now and time flies fast."

The local coal mine employs 60 to 80 people and the coal-fired power station employs another 110, Warwick said, with most workers living in Hanna.

Billy Loran, who has worked as a mechanic at the coal mine for the past 10 years, believes the government is being hasty with its climate-change plan.

Billy Loran, who has worked as a mechanic at the coal mine near Hanna for the past 10 years, said the government is moving too fast with its climate-change plan. (Mike Symington/CBC)

"They're trying to push it way too quick" he said. "Coal pretty much supports this town, supports a bunch of different towns around here. I came from Grande Cache originally — coal supports up there, too."

"It's the cheapest power source we have," he said. "It's the easiest thing to do."             

Loran said a lot of Hanna residents are worried about their jobs but, personally, he believes the current plan for coal won't be seen through to 2030.

"The NDP's only going to be in power four years and then hopefully we'll get a change," he said.

Hanna is about 200 kilometres northeast of Calgary.

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