Shift away from coal power won’t be cheap for Alberta – Jeffrey Jones (Globe and Mail – October 26, 2016)

CALGARY — Alberta’s shift away from coal-fired power is about to get real. And expensive.

Premier Rachel Notley signalled last week that the government will cough up compensation for electricity generators as they shut down coal plants that currently provide about 38 per cent of the province’s juice. This is one measure that apparently comes from advice by a former U.S. power-industry executive the Premier brought in to deal with the thorny issue of billions of dollars in generating assets that will be rendered useless by 2030.

That’s the deadline for coal emissions spelled out in Alberta’s plan to fight climate change. The idea is to fill that gap between now and then with power generated by natural gas and renewables such as wind and solar.

The New Democratic Party government is poring over recommendations from Terry Boston, former chief executive officer of PJM Interconnection, based in Valley Forge, Pa. They are the culmination of months of talks between Mr. Boston and Alberta’s generators, such as TransAlta Corp. and Capital Power Corp., which worry about all that capital that stands to be stranded.

Mr. Boston was also charged with helping to develop ways to protect Alberta consumers from skyrocketing power bills and any problems with system reliability as the shift from coal proceeds.

Another recommendation is said to involve changes to the electricity market structure, which has been in place since privatization at the start of the past decade. Details, such as how much money could be on the table and how it gets funded in an era of austerity, are expected before the end of the year.

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