Alberta says negotiator will work out the transition away from coal

Alberta Minister of Energy Margaret McCuaig-Boyd and Minister of Environment and Parks Shannon Phillips were joined Nov. 30 by leaders from Alberta energy and electricity companies to talk about the province’s recently-announced plan to combat climate change through a shutdown of all coal-fired power by 2030.

These energy leaders expressed a willingness and commitment to working with the Alberta government to ensure that the transition is fair to the companies currently supplying Alberta’s electricity needs, and ensure Alberta is an attractive and competitive market place to invest in modernizing Alberta’s electricity system, the environment department said in a Nov. 30 statement.

“The plan we have put forward enables us to take real action on climate change, protect our electricity market and responsibly transition away from coal to up to 30 per cent renewable energy by 2030. This is good for our environment, good for our image in the world and good for the health of families,” said Phillips.

“Transitioning away from coal creates a tremendous opportunity for new investment in Alberta. Throughout the course of this phase-out, our province will see billions of dollars in new investments,” said McCuaig-Boyd.

“The AESO is confident that by working closely with government and industry, we can reliably implement the transition away from coal,” said David Erickson, Alberta Electric System Operator (AESO) President and Chief Executive Officer.

As part of Alberta’s climate leadership plan, the government has committed to:

  • Phase out of emissions from coal generated electricity by 2030.
  • Diversify the supply mix by replacing reitired coal with at least two-thirds renewable energy sources.
  • Appoint an independent facilitator and negotiator to help develop and implement this plan. The work of this facilitator will be to transition Alberta away from coal generation without endangering the reliability of the electricity system.
  • Keep the costs of renewables as low as possible by using market mechanisms, such as auctioning.
  • Support workers employed in the coal electricity sector with opportunities to retrain for new jobs in a greener energy economy.
  • Reduce greenhouse gas emissions from coal-fired electricity to zero by 2030, from current emissions of 40 megatonnes annually.

“The appointment of a negotiator was a global game-changer,” said Dawn Farrell, President and CEO of TransAlta Corp., the province’s largest coal-fired generator. “It will bring all the stakeholders to the table in a new approach that gets everyone thinking outside of their entrenched positions in order to tackle the coal and new renewables transition, that will protect taxpayers, communities and workers, as well as meet the province’s renewable energy targets. The Alberta Government has developed a rational, reasonable and balanced approach. TransAlta will too. We look forward to getting started as soon as possible.”

Said Al Monaco, President and CEO of Enbridge Inc.: “To encourage private sector investment, several things need to come together: good wind resources and transmission infrastructure, financial and operating capability to build new generation and a strong policy framework that drives robust commercial structures. We see all three coming together in Alberta and this is a great first step in attracting capital to build out our renewable and natural gas capacity. We’re encouraged by the potential to be part of meeting what we believe to be ambitious, but achievable, targets for renewable generating capacity in the province.”

Said John Gorman, President and CEO of the Canadian Solar Industries Association: “Premier Notley’s Made-in-Alberta climate plan opens the door for billions of dollars in new renewable investment. For too long, discussions about climate change have focused on what we can’t do. But Alberta has tremendous renewable energy resources, technology costs keep falling, and it’s time to focus on what we can do.”

“As a developer of many of Canada’s largest wind and solar projects and co-owner of Alberta’s 300 MW Blackspring Ridge Wind Project, the largest wind development in Western Canada, EDF EN Canada applauds this historic announcement by the Alberta Government,” said Cory Basil, Vice President of EDF EN Canada. “We know that renewable energy is low-cost and able to deliver affordable electricity for Alberta ratepayers. With this announcement the province is well-positioned to attract billions in direct investment from corporations like EDF EN Canada, growing the green energy economy and creating well-paying jobs for Alberta families.”

About Barry Cassell 20414 Articles
Barry Cassell is Chief Analyst for GenerationHub covering coal and emission controls issues, projects and policy. He has covered the coal and power generation industry for more than 24 years, beginning in November 2011 at GenerationHub and prior to that as editor of SNL Energy’s Coal Report. He was formerly with Coal Outlook for 15 years as the publication’s editor and contributing writer, and prior to that he was editor of Coal & Synfuels Technology and associate editor of The Energy Report. He has a bachelor’s degree from Central Michigan University.