Saskatchewan, Canada reach equivalency deal on coal-fired power plants
Ottawa wants most coal power phased out by 2030
Although Canada is moving to phase out coal-fired power plants, the Saskatchewan government says it has reached a "equivalency" deal with Ottawa with rules more to its liking.
The federal deal calls for a phase-out of coal-burning power stations by 2030, so that 90 per cent of Canada's electricity will come from hydro, nuclear, wind, solar and other non-coal sources.
Carbon dioxide generated through coal power is considered a major source of human-made greenhouse gases that scientists say is causing climate change.
On the face of things, the new federal rules might mean Saskatchewan would have to shut down some of its coal-fired power units.
However, on Monday, the government said an equivalency agreement reached on the weekend will provide Saskatchewan with more "flexibility" in making the transition to renewable energy.
Under the equivalency agreement, the province would be allowed to meet or improve upon federal emission requirements over time on a electricity system-wide basis — such as through more wind and solar power — as opposed to regulation of every coal-fired plant.
"We've minimized the impact to Saskatchewan people, Saskatchewan industries that utilize electricity in the province," said Environment Minister Scott Moe.
"Saskatchewan can also continue to use coal in a responsible manner beyond 2030 as long as equivalent emission reduction outcomes are achieved."
The Saskatchewan government has a goal of moving to 50 per cent renewable energy generation by 2030, which would mean cutting emissions by 40 per cent over 2005 levels.
More carbon capture and storage?
Moe also said he was pleased Ottawa acknowledged Saskatchewan's use of carbon capture and storage.
Moe did not commit an answer to if or when the government would outfit Boundary Dam 4 and 5 with carbon capture and storage, or how much will it cost taxpayers.
SaskPower CEO Mike Marsh was a little more specific.
"We have to compare the cost to put carbon capture technology on one of our units against what it would take to replace the fleet with an equivalent amount of wind and solar, which today is very, very expensive," he said.
SaskPower plans to analyze its options over the next two years.
Carbon tax not part of the agreement
Ottawa's plan for coal-fired plants followed a federal announcement on carbon pricing that was bitterly denounced by Premier Brad Wall.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's proposed price on carbon dioxide pollution would start at a minimum of $10 a tonne in 2018, rising by $10 each year to $50 a tonne by 2022.