By James Wood
September 17, 2011
A party looking for a jolt of electoral renewal is making a push for renewable energy.
The NDP wants Saskatchewan to get half its electrical supply from renewable energy and efficiencies by 2025.
NDP Leader Dwain Lingenfelter promised Friday that if his party wins the Nov. 7 provincial election, it will enshrine that target in law.
An NDP government will also kickstart the process by adding 400 megawatts of wind energy production to the provincial grid in its first term, he said.
The emphasis will not just be on wind power though, with significant development planned as well in solar, biomass, hydro power and waste recovery.
The environment plan was the latest in a flurry of election-style events by the NDP and the Saskatchewan Party that have been occurring even before the writ is dropped.
There is 171 MW of wind production in Saskatchewan that was implemented under the previous NDP government. Under the Sask. Party, SaskPower has committed to a further 175 MW of wind power by 2014.
An NDP government would be open to entering partnerships with small producers on renewables, but most of the development will be through SaskPower.
Lingenfelter said that marks a substantial difference between his party and the Saskatchewan Party, which has been criticized by the NDP for its deal with Ontario's Northland Power to construct and operate a new natural gas plant in North Battleford.
Lingenfelter said he would restore the reduction targets set by Lorne Calvert's previous NDP government of a 32 per cent reduction below 2004 levels by 2020. The Sask. Party had promised in the 2007 election to maintain those targets but once in office altered them to 20 per cent below 2006 levels.
Dustin Duncan, the Saskatchewan Party's environment minister, confirmed Friday that regulations for the government's greenhouse reduction plan - which involves large emitters paying into a technology fund - will not be in place before the provincial election.
The government has also not signed an equivalency agreement with the federal government - a keystone of the plan - that would see Ottawa recognize the provincial plan.
He said the Sask. Party has committed not only to wind power but also "clean coal," through the $1.24-billion carbon capture retrofit at SaskPower's Boundary Dam facility.
Duncan said there are questions around the NDP proposal, noting specifically that the party had provided no estimate of the cost of reaching 40 per cent renewables or of increasing the short-term commitment to wind power from 175 to 400 MW.
"It's a significant jump to meet the new targets that the other party have put out. We think that we struck a good balance between investing in renewables over that time frame but also investing in technology that will allow us to use an energy source that we have a 300-year energy supply of in the province and employs thousands of people," he said of the province's coal industry.