Tuesday, October 25, 2011

NDP stand by goal of 400 MW in 4 years and 50% from renewables by 2025 - Saskatchewan Party remain firmly committed to investing in wind

If recent comments by both parties in the ongoing provincial election campaign in Saskatchewan are any indication, wind power seems to have a very promising future in the province. Both the governing Saskatchewan Party and opposition NDP continue to state a clear commitment to wind energy development in the province but differ in their position on targets, standards, costs and technical challenges.

What the NDP are saying about their support for wind energy

As part of the ongoing election campaign, the provincial opposition NDP party leader, Dwain Lingenfelter noted that the NDP’s previously stated goal of adding 400 MW of new wind power over the next four years is as affordable as the province's other options and also easier on the environment. The new 400 MW of wind power would put the province well on the way toward having 50% of all generation in the province of Saskatchewan coming from renewable sources by 2025, which a NDP government would mandate, Lingenfelter said. "We're going to be building 400 MW in that (four year) period at any rate, and the question is what are you going to use for your source of power. What we're saying is rather than more coal or more natural gas, more fossil fuels, the next 400 MW of power will come into the grid through wind after we form government," Lingenfelter told reporters. When asked about the cost, Lingenfelter insisted the "numbers are within the budget of SaskPower." "It would be the same cost impact as the plan in place now which is mainly to do more retrofitting in coal, to get more from that area, or more natural gas," Lingenfelter said. The costs of wind and natural gas production are "very comparable over the life of the project," Lingenfelter said. Lingenfelter said the NDP, if re-elected, would look to get up to 20% of its power from wind. To achieve 50% from renewable sources, the province would boost its hydro complement and look at solar and geothermal as well as efficiency measures, he added. There are 171 MW of wind generation in Saskatchewan that was implemented under the previous NDP government. It is unclear what type of procurement process the NDP would implement and what the role of independent power producers would be.

What the Saskatchewan Party are saying about their support for wind energy

Premier Brad Wall of the governing Saskatchewan Party accused the NDP of failing to account for the above promise in its campaign platform and being mistaken on their assessment of costs. "Our cost on that, SaskPower's cost on that, is about a billion dollars. It's got to come from somewhere. It's either going to come from people's power bills - they're going to be paying more - or it comes from the budget," Wall said. "It's not accurate to say that adding the wind power would be the same as other power plans," he added. "There is an additional premium that comes with wind operationally because you need backup for when the wind's not blowing and to some extent from a capital standpoint. " Wall said. "We want to be environmentally sustainable. We're also investing in wind. But again, it has to be reasonable and affordable for Saskatchewan families." Under the Saskatchewan Party, SaskPower is currently in the process of purchasing up to 175 MW from one or more independent power producers selected through a competitive RFP process and a further 25 MW of wind power from developers with smaller-scale projects on an annual basis. The Saskatchewan Party Policy Resolutions publicly available online have set the goal of making the province of Saskatchewan “the energy heart of North America” by 2020 by assessing the potential for further development of power generation from wind, clean coal, natural gas, nuclear, biomass, coal bed methane, ethanol, solar, oil sands, co-generation, hydrogen fuel cell technology and any other power source that may be viable in Saskatchewan for provincial consumption and/or export.

This is the kind of debate I like – a debate about targets, standards, costs and technical challenges associated with renewable energy development. The question is not whether we will develop our renewable energy resources in Saskatchewan, but rather what the most appropriate way to do that is. Both the Saskatchewan Party and the NDP clearly support development of our vast renewable energy resources in Saskatchewan. From my perspective, I am optimistic that renewable energy in Saskatchewan has a promising long-term future under either a Saskatchewan Party or NDP government.

Source: (in part) The StarPhoenix, October 25, 2011 edition

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