Mayor Lobbies Trudeau To Save Proposed Power Plant

It is one of the largest economic projects ever envisioned for the City of Moose Jaw but now it is threatened by the Federal Carbon Tax but not if the Mayor has anything to say about it.

This past week Mayor Fraser Tolmie wrote a letter to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau asking him to personally intercede to save the proposed 350 megawatt (MW) combined cycle natural gas fired turbine (CCGT) plant.

A plant whose construction is under threat of cancellation while still in the planning stages due to a regulation change making it subject to the federal Carbon Tax.

Chinook Power Station near Swift Current under construction - SaskPower Photo

Chinook Power Station near Swift Current under construction - SaskPower Photo

In his letter to the Prime Minister Mayor Tolmie writes the project should be grandfathered and allowed under the older regulations as the Federal Government – through various departments – was aware of the project and discussions had been on-going since 2017.

“The Moose Jaw Natural Gas Power Plant project should be grandfathered as it was initiated and planned for prior to the change in federal regulations,” Mayor Tolmie wrote, adding “There has been significant time and financial investment spent on this project and the federal regulation timelines must recognize that projects already initiated, announced, and in planning stages should be grandfathered as it is unreasonable to expect to continually change plans to meet changing regulations.”

In his letter to the Prime Minister the Mayor also emphasized how burning natural gas in the proposed CCGT plant would be better for the environment as SaskPower would have to rely on the more polluting coal versus natural gas.

“The timeline to have zero tolerance on emissions on natural gas for Moose Jaw's future combined cycle natural gas power plant overlooks the present transition in the Province of Saskatchewan and our Province's desire to transition away from coal. The results are twofold punitive measures on the rate payers because of additional costs to the project or punitive financial measures on rate payers due to costs incurred from out of province power producers,” he wrote.

In a July 22, 2019 update to Moose Jaw Chamber of Commerce members SaskPower admitted it was re-assessing the proposed plant given the regulation changes.

CCGT is a generating station which uses what would be waste heat in a single phase generating station to generate more power. CCGT is said to be 40 percent more efficient than a single phase plant.

When announced in December 2018 the proposed plant was seen as a Christmas gift to the City of Moose Jaw when a Memorandum of Understanding was signed which would see SaskPower pay $614,992 for 110 acres directly north of the Sewage Treatment Plant.

The plant would likely serve as an anchor tenant at the Southeast Industrial Park which has likely seen the cancellation of Canadian Protein Innovations (CPI) proposed $60 million pea protein plant.

Additionally CCGT plants have short implementation times, lower investment costs and low emission levels.

Initially the plant appeared to be exempt from the federal Carbon Tax but in June 2019, after facing from Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCCC), new regulations were issued making all plants coming online after January 1, 2021 subject to the Carbon Tax.

Eastern media has stated ECCCC officials fought for the new regulations because the exemption to the Carbon Tax did nothing to encourage utilities to develop non-greenhouse gas emitting sources such as solar, wind, geothermal and nuclear.

The current federal regulations stipulate that plants producing 420 tons of C02/per gigawatt hour are exempt from the federal Carbon Tax however any plant coming on-line after January 1, 2021 The Moose Jaw plant is proposed to be 370 tons of C02/per gigawatt hour and if grandfathered under the present regulations exempt from the Carbon Tax.

Read the full text of Mayor Tolmie's letter to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau below.

SEE RELATED – Column Breaks Down Politics Of The Proposed Plant

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