Alberta's 'accelerated' phasing out of coal worries industry

The chairman of the Coal Association of Canada is worried about Premier Rachel Notley’s plan for an accelerated phasing out of coal-fired plants in Alberta.

Coal Association of Canada worried about possibility of massive job cuts

A faster phase-out of coal-fired plants is at the top of Premier Rachel Notley's climate-change strategy for Alberta. One industry group fears the phase-out might mean the loss of thousands of jobs. (Grande Cache Coal)

The chairman of the Coal Association of Canada is worried about Premier Rachel Notley's plan for an accelerated phasing out of coal-fired plants in Alberta.

"We certainly are not aware of what accelerated means," said John Schadan, responding to Notley's speech Thursday in Toronto where she said her government is moving ahead on its progressive strategy to battle climate change.

"There currently exists a process to phase out coal within Canadian federal regulations to date.

"Any plans that the current Alberta government has, have not been made public, so I'm really anxious to hear what the plans are."

Decreasing coal dependency is at the top of Notley's agenda.

"Coal is a high-carbon fuel that we currently depend on for more than half of our electricity in Alberta," Notley said before an audience at the Broadbent Institute Progress gala.

"In its place, we must encourage lower-carbon natural gas and zero-carbon renewables."

She added the energy sector won't be able to support well-paying direct and indirect jobs in Canada, if governments continue with outdated policies.

Here in Alberta, Schadan sees the situation much differently.

"What's more concerning to me is the thousands of people and families that work in this business," he said. "There are tens of thousands of jobs directly and indirectly related to this industry.

"Multi-generational families have long worked in this industry and done a great job in producing electricity for the province in a competitive way.

"So this is a huge concern for those people if accelerated plans come out."

The coal association has worked with the province by meeting with Energy Minister Margaret McCuaig-Boyd and making a presentation to the climate-change panel.   

Notley said the energy efficiency program will be unveiled shortly, and that a few details will be announced before she attends the UN climate change conference in Paris later this month.

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