Edmonton-area counties get help from Ottawa for coal transition

The federal government is spending $3.2 million to help Alberta communities move away from coal, Energy Minister Amarjeet Sohi announced Friday.

$3.2M will help retrain workers and develop new industries

TransAlta's Keephills generating station is located 70 kilometres west of Edmonton. The coal-fired power plant first went online in 1983. (Sam Martin/CBC)

The federal government is spending $3.2 million to help Alberta communities move away from coal.

The funding is earmarked for retraining workers and developing new industries, said Energy Minister Amarjeet Sohi in Nisku Friday morning.

"We all know that Canada committed to transitioning away from coal-fired electricity generation by 2030 and we are here to support those communities that are impacted by that transition," Sohi told reporters.

Leduc County will receive $430,000 to develop an investment strategy to direct growth and employment in rural, agricultural, commercial and industrial development.

"It's an exciting announcement; it acknowledges that our county is going to be impacted financially by the phase-out and allows us to start looking at opportunities for diversification," said Mayor Tanni Doblanko.

Capital Power's Genesee Generating Station directly and indirectly employs about 450 people. The transition is expected to cost the municipality $20 million annually, according to a county news release.

Doblanko called the funding "a good start" to deal with the transition.

"We've been told it is a start and so we'll be looking forward to the next phase," she said.

Doblanko said the county is looking for infrastructure support from both the provincial and federal governments for the north-south Nisku Spine Road project which would open up more industrial areas for diversification, she said.

Parkland County Mayor Rod Shaigec says 25 per cent of municipal tax revenue fro the county come from coal-fired power plants. (Axel Tardieu/CBC)

Parkland County, west of Edmonton, will receive $2.2 million.

Mayor Rod Shaigec said the Keephills and Sundance generating stations, both owned by Transalta, account for approximately $13 million — 25 per cent — of the county's municipal revenue.

The county expects to lose somewhere between $50 to $80 million in tax revenue by 2030, he said.

"This regional plan is much needed but what we do need is money invested into Parkland County, into infrastructure and other priorities that we identify," Shaigec said.

"That helps not just Parkland County replace some of the tax dollars that we're going to be losing, but also to enable us to provide the services to the affected coal workers as well."

Sohi said more announcements will be coming.

The money is provided through the Canada Coal Transition Initiative, a five-year strategic fund of $35 million.

Federal and provincial regulations will see coal-fired power generation phased out by 2030.

Coal-fired power plants are some of the largest emitters of greenhouse gases in Canada.


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