Pulling the Plug on Coal-Powered Electricity in Alberta

by macrae on November 25, 2016 - 6:10pm

Overall, the dirtiest type of fossil fuel energy comes from burning coal. Sadly, coal-powered energy is not only the dirtiest but also the cheapest energy source, making it even harder to stop using it. However, Canada as a whole is making a stand and choosing to fight against coal-powered energy. Surprisingly, it was Alberta, one of the provinces who rely most heavily upon fossil fuels for their income, that took the initiative and announced on Thursday their provincial plan of action.

The Globe and Mail’s article “Alberta strikes $1.36 billion with power companies to end coal-fired electricity by 2030” explains the details. On Thursday, Alberta’s Environment Minister Shannon Phillips announced Alberta’s plans to phase out coal-powered electricity by the year 2030. This plan will follow the timeline recently announced by the Canadian federal government to eliminate all coal-powered electricity by 2030. However, Alberta decided to take initiative and jump the gun on federal government policies by implementing a made-in-Alberta plan. The reasoning behind this plan is because federal government policies will be directed towards all provinces in a generalized policy. Alberta is unique in that the province has the highest proportion of electricity generated from coal (around 70% of all electricity comes from coal) compared to all provinces, and so a generalized policy would be harder for the province to follow. The made-in-Alberta plan incorporates paying a compensation of $97 million per year spread out over three major power producers (TransAlta Corp., Capital Power Corp. and Atco Ltd.) over the next 14 years to aid the companies in shutting down and transitioning to cleaner forms of energy. The cleaner forms of energy will include natural gas, wind, hydro, and solar.  

This is a huge step for Canada, and I applaud Alberta for taking the initiative to get the ball rolling on eliminating coal-powered electricity. Canada as a country has a staples economy, which means that we rely on the extraction and export of “staples”, which are raw unprocessed primary goods, for most of our country’s income. These staples include energy sources such as gas, oil, and coal. Since we are so reliant on fossil fuels for our country’s wealth, it is a huge step for the country as a whole to be reducing fossil fuel emissions and focusing on cleaner and renewable energy. This will be a huge cost for the country, but it is the right decision to make in order to help our planet and the future of our life on earth. My only hope is that Alberta and the rest of Canada stay true to their word and follow through with their plans. For now, we will just have to wait and see.



Bennett, D. (2016, November 24). Alberta strikes $1.36-billion deal with power companies to end coal-fired electricity by 2030. Retrieved November 24, 2016, from http://www.theglobeandmail.com/report-on-business/industry-news/energy-a...