Gateway Gazette

Alberta Takes Next Steps to Phase-Out Coal Pollution under Climate Leadership Plan

25531907012_67c9432275_bTerry Boston, the retired head of North America’s largest power grid, will lead discussions with coal-fired electricity generation owners as the province transitions from coal to cleaner sources of power.

“Pollution from coal-burning power plants is harmful to our health and it’s costing Albertans hundreds of millions in additional health care costs and lost productivity. We are taking action to protect our health, economy and environment for future generations. Our plan will ensure Alberta consumers and taxpayers are protected, communities and workers are supported, and companies and investors are treated fairly throughout this transition.”

Deron Bilous, Minister of Economic Development and Trade

Boston will work with coal-fired electricity generators, the Alberta Electric System Operator, and the Government of Alberta to develop options to phase out emissions from coal-fired generation by 2030, as outlined in the Climate Leadership Plan. Under the plan, Alberta will diversify the electricity supply mix by replacing up to two thirds of retiring coal capacity with renewable energy.

“Alberta has an opportunity to demonstrate its leadership and provide an example to other jurisdictions as coal-fired electricity emissions are phased-out around North America. I look forward to working with Alberta on this complex initiative.”

Terry Boston, Coal Phase-out Facilitator

Minister Bilous also provided an update on a parallel process underway to ensure ongoing support for coal communities and workers. The first stage of the process included an initial meeting with affected community leaders. Meetings were also held with labour organizations representing workers in the coal sector. The next stage of community and worker adjustment consultations will be announced in the coming weeks.

Boston is tasked with presenting options to government that will strive to maintain the reliability of Alberta’s electricity grid, maintain stability of prices for consumers, and avoid unnecessarily stranding capital. Twelve of Alberta’s 18 coal-fired generating units are expected to shut-down before 2030 under the federal coal regulations. The primary focus of his work will be with the six coal generation units that would otherwise be expected to operate past 2030.

Boston’s total contract value is up to $600,000. The Government of Alberta is inviting the Auditor General to assess if the intended outcomes of the facilitation are clearly articulated to demonstrate the public interest and to examine whether the necessary processes are in place to achieve the desired results.

About Terry Boston

Terry_Boston 2015Terry Boston recently retired from PJM Interconnection where he served as President and CEO from 2008 to 2015. PJM is the second-largest centrally dispatched power system in the world. During his time at PJM, about 16,000 megawatts of coal-fired generation retired, with an additional 7,000 megawatts expected to retire by 2019.

In 2015, Boston received a Lifetime Achievement Award from Platts Global Energy, in which he was “recognized by judges as a ‘household name’ in the industry … earning a reputation as a straight shooter without a political agenda.” The judges also recognized his “business acumen.”

Prior to joining PJM, Boston was the Executive Vice President of Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA), the largest U.S. public power provider. In his 35 years at TVA, he directed divisions in transmission and power operations, pricing, contracts and electric system reliability.

Boston is a recognized expert on grid reliability and transmission development. He has overseen numerous initiatives that increased market transparency and efficiency, while delivering unmatched levels of service reliability and customer satisfaction.

He has worked with many energy leaders around the world including France, South Africa, China and South Korea. He has also provided advice to the White House and the U.S. Congress.

Scope of Work for Coal Phase-Out Facilitator

Purpose

The coal phase-out facilitator is intended to help the Government of Alberta navigate this highly specialized and complex transition while maintaining a reliable electric system, stable prices for Albertans, and not unnecessarily stranding capital.

Desired Outcomes

By 2030, two-thirds of Alberta’s coal generation capacity will be replaced by renewable energy; one-third will be replaced by natural gas. The facilitator will develop options for government to phase out emissions from coal-fired generation by 2030, while ensuring the reliability of the system. Throughout this process, government will ensure that workers, communities and affected companies are treated fairly.

Approach and Deliverables

The Coal Phase-out facilitator’s work will include:

  • Engaging with the three coal-fired generators operating units beyond 2030 with the support of the Coal Secretariat in Alberta Energy and the Alberta Electric System Operator.
  • Providing expert advice to government on:
    • Options and preferred approach to phasing out coal-fired electricity emissions by 2030;
    • Options and preferred approach to prevent unnecessarily stranding capital assets, if appropriate; and
    • Considerations for implementation.

The facilitator will be provided detailed system reliability studies by the Alberta Electric System Operator, and will consider input from the facilitation process, to inform their advice on approaches to phasing out emissions by 2030. This work will also be informed by the engagement with workers and communities affected by this transition.

The Coal Secretariat at Alberta Energy will provide policy development advice and analysis, as well as administrative support throughout the process.

Other Activities

The Ministry of Economic Development and Trade, led by Minister Deron Bilous, will lead efforts to meet and engage with affected communities and workers this spring to support community transition.

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