Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe made an appearance in Estevan on Friday to lay out his government's long term plan for power generation.
Moe met with a group of about 10-15 people inside the chambers at Estevan City Hall, including Estevan Mayor Roy Ludwig, and Estevan MLA Lori Carr.
"We are consistently having these shifting sands on regulatory changes, introductions of carbon taxes, increasing of the carbon tax rate, pulling forward on the regulations of the phase out of coal," Moe said. "Every time SaskPower has tried to set a direction, the sand shifts under their feet, and we have to go back to the drawing board."
Moe poked holes in the federal government's plan to achieve net zero emissions by 2035.
"The federal plan as it stands is just not attainable, it's unachievable, it's expensive, it will cause at least a doubling and quite likely a tripling or a quadrupling of our power rates," Moe said. "We need to work on a Saskatchewan plan, and that's exactly what we have done."
In a news release, the province outlined some of the pillars of that plan, including:
- SaskPower is committed to achieving net-zero emissions by 2050
- Existing assets, such as natural gas plants, will be used until end of life in an effort to keep rates affordable
- The province will continue working toward small modular reactors
- The province will continue to expand intermittent power sources, such as wind and solar
Moe was also asked whether it was realistic that the two Estevan area coal plants - Boundary Dam Power Station and Shand Power Station - be shut down or converted by 2030.
"I don't know that it's not only not realistic, but not wise. As we went through all of the various changes that would ultimately have to happen for us to still not achieve net zero by 2035, it at the very outset looks like it would cause at least a doubling of our electrical rates in this province," Moe said.
"And I would say that when you look at other areas around the world that have made those decisions that it may result in a tripling or a quadrupling in those electrical rates, and thereby provide you with a less reliable electricity grid as well. And we've seen that happen nowhere more notably than in the European Union."
Moe also had a message for Estevan residents who work in the coal industry and who are unsure of the future.
"What we're saying is, we're fully prepared to run those plants (Boundary Dam and Shand) out to the end of their life. What we need to do is ensure that we're doing so with a priority of providing as affordable of power as we can to the province, and providing as reliable of power as we can to the province," Moe said.
"For example, the federal government still collects the carbon tax and there's a lot more carbon tax on a coal-fired plant like Shand than there is if you were to convert it to gas. And so it's imperative I think in the months ahead that the Province of Saskatchewan regain control over the collection of the carbon tax, so that we can then make provincial decisions as to ultimately where those dollars can go in achieving that affordable, reliable power supply."