Economics lead to early coal shutdowns, improved possibilities for health and jobs Pembina Institute reacts to the early closure of eight coal units in Alberta

April 20, 2017

CALGARY — Binnu Jeyakumar, Program Director of Electricity at the Pembina Institute, made the following statement in response to TransAlta’s announced plan to accelerate coal plant shutdowns:

“International trends in coal plant retirements hit home yesterday when TransAlta announced it will shut down two coal plants ahead of schedule in January 2018, and convert six others to gas before their scheduled shutdown.

“The economics of the plants were unfavourable even in 2011, when TransAlta tried to permanently close them during a maintenance outage because the units could not be economically restored to service. They were only brought back online then because it was demanded under TransAlta’s PPA agreement with TransCanada.

“This is not an isolated closure. With this decision, the 288 MW Sundance 1 joins several gigawatts of coal power retiring south of the border, where cheap gas and renewable alternatives are making coal less cost competitive.

“Coal power causes 92 premature deaths in Alberta every year, and costs associated with health outcomes are as much as $460 million. Early closures mean more health benefits for Albertans and the possibility of a faster transition to a more sustainable electricity grid. TransAlta’s announced strategy of additional early closures could result in about 47 per cent of Alberta’s coal retiring early.

“Alberta has some of the best wind and solar resources in Canada and the costs of wind and solar have decreased dramatically. Alberta’s market based approach to growing renewable generation to replace coal has been proven in over 25 electricity markets to reduce consumer bills by as much as 10 per cent.

“Ramping up investment in Alberta’s renewable energy and energy efficiency sectors will create more than enough job opportunities to absorb workers from the coal generation industry into Alberta’s economy. As a recent Pembina Institue report shows, there is a net employment benefit if we follow through on our commitment to substantially enable renewables and energy efficiency. Accelerated shut downs allow time for transition planning.”

 

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Contact

Suzy Thompson
Communications Lead, Alberta, Pembina Institute
587-585-4522

Binnu Jeyakumar
Program Director, Electricity, Pembina Institute
403-269-3344

 

Background:

Report: Job growth in clean energy; Employment in Alberta’s emerging renewables and energy efficiency sectors

Report: Breathing in the benefits

Fact Sheet: The true price of wind and solar electricity generation

Report: A Retrospective Analysis of the Benefits and Impacts of U.S. Renewable Portfolio Standards

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