The Alberta Government’s plan to phase out coal still leaves a lot of questions for the future of Hanna.
Last week the Alberta Government made another announcement on its drive to transition away from coal-fired power generation. It signed agreements with major power companies with transition payments for investments that have been reduced in value due to the transition.
For the Mayor of Hanna, Chris Warwick, he still hasn’t heard anything definitive about what will be happening in his community.
One positive he has heard that half of the total of 18 coal-fired generators in the province were recommended to be converted to natural gas. He said the Hanna plant is one that was originally slated to operate beyond 2030.
“It is one of the oldest of the six that was going to operate past that 2030 date, but by no mean is it an old generating station,” he said.” It is hard to say what ATCO will do, but of course between ATCO, Trans Alta and Capital Power, they are getting about a billion dollars until the year 2030, so the hope from the report is they will invest that back into generation.”
“I have always said the best case scenario for Hanna is that it would be converted to natural gas,” he said, explaining that while the coal mining related employment would be lost, the generation will still be functioning. It would also help the town secure its water supply.
“It is still a loss of 100-130 jobs so that is still devastating.”
“The very best would be if they just throw this all in the garbage and invest in clean burning coal technology, but that doesn’t look like it is going to happen at all.”
This announcement comes on the heels of the Federal government also pledging to phase out coal generation. The federal government appears to be more open to working with producers.
“Federally, they have made a little bit of provision with the generation in Saskatchewan to continue to operate, and Nova Scotia as well,” said Warwick.
A number of alternative energy projects in the area have been announced and are working on approvals, however they may not have the same economic benefit as existing power sources.
“The problem with solar and wind is that it’s great and creates a bunch of jobs for the construction phase, but after that is done, there is very little employment,” he said.
The next major step is for representatives of the town to meet with the Advisory Panel on Coal Communities.