Sask. one step closer to coal agreement with feds

Sask. one step closer to coal agreement with feds

Saskatchewan is capping GHG emissions for coal and electricity producers in hopes of reaching an equivalency agreement with the federal government.

D.C. FRASER, REGINA LEADER-POST
Published on: January 3, 2018 | Last Updated: January 3, 2018 4:56 PM CST

SaskPower coal
A vehicle carrying coal rolls toward SaskPower electrical generating plant. BRUCE JOHNSTONE/THE LEADER-POST

Saskatchewan is capping GHG emissions for coal and electricity producers in hopes of reaching an equivalency agreement with the federal government.

A portion of a law — the Management and Reduction of Greenhouse Gases and Adaptation to Climate Change Act — which once fully proclaimed would essentially put a carbon price on heavy emitters, came into effect on Jan. 1.

According to Environment Minister Dustin Duncan, it is a necessary step to get in line with pending federal regulations on coal-fired plants, calling it “the next step to an equivalency agreement with the province.”

As of Monday, SaskPower will have a cap on the greenhouse gas emissions across its entire fleet of coal-fired electricity plants.

Under an agreement with the federal government, first announced in November 2016, Saskatchewan will be able to keep its fleet of coal-fired power plants if they meet or exceed federal environmental standards.

If not for such an agreement, the province says it would have to close its coal-fired units at the end of their economic life or by 2030 (depending on which date comes first).

The new regulations, which still need an OK from the federal government, allow SaskPower to manage its emissions on a fleet-wide basis, meaning sites that go over the emissions cap can be compensated for at sites — notably the carbon capture and storage facility in Estevan — with emissions significantly lower than the cap.

“That’s going to give (SaskPower) a little bit of flexibility to manage the fleet,” said Duncan.

It is expected the province and the federal government will spend 2018 continuing to hash out how Saskatchewan can appease Ottawa’s desire to reduce coal-fired plants by 2030.

In 2016, the federal government sped up the timetable for provinces burning coal for electricity to adopt new technology, like capturing the carbon emissions, or shut down the plants entirely.

“We’re certainly on track to where we thought we’d be at this point in that process, but it has been a long conversation a couple of years and so we’re definitely closer to the end of this part of the process than the beginning,” said Duncan.

He also indicated how the remaining pieces of the Management and Reduction of Greenhouse Gases and Adaptation to Climate Change Act will come into effect.

Rather than proclaiming the law all at once, Duncan signalled the province is more likely to put in place industry-specific regulations on greenhouse gas emissions and proclaim sections of the law allowing them to do so when needed.

About prosperitysaskatchewan

Consultant on Saskatchewan's natural resources.

Posted on January 4, 2018, in economic impact, other minerals, political. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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