The Honorable Dustin Duncan, Minister of Environment (the office that precedes over Saskatchewan’s natural resources including forestry, water, and oil, as well as SaskPower) delivered an address yesterday at the Estevan Chamber of Commerce Luncheon hosted at Southeast College.

The Minister addressed concerns about the Federal Carbon Tax and discontinuation of coal energy and discussed how these issues might affect the Energy City.

“I wanted to speak about the reasons why we don’t think a carbon tax is the right approach for Saskatchewan,” the Minister told Discover Estevan. “We’re developing our own plan; it’s actually based on reducing emissions without applying a carbon tax.”

He added that Southeast Saskatchewan has been mostly supportive of this position.

Minister Duncan also spoke on the elimination of coal power during his presentation. Currently, the Government of Saskatchewan is in negotiations for an equalization agreement, intended to extend the life of coal power while they investigate renewable energy alternatives.

When questioned about alternative plans, should the equivalency negotiations fall through, the Minister explained that “legally, we cannot operate plants 4 and 5.” From Duncan’s perspective, equivalency is the best option for Saskatchewan at this time.

Coal is scheduled to be completely phased out by 2030, with power plant shutdowns as early as next year.

It is a timely conversation, especially after the recent solar field announcement from SaskPower. Discover Estevan had the opportunity to speak directly to Minister Duncan on the decision to place that solar field in Swift Current, rather than Estevan.

“We’ll have competitive procurement processes for solar, wind, as well as for flare gas over the next number of years,” explained the Minister.

Duncan acknowledged that Estevan is a likely candidate given the natural attributes in the area, especially for solar power. “It is the Sunshine capital,” he chuckled.

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