NB Power plans to eliminate coal from its energy mix by 2030 by identifying a new, cleaner energy source to keep the Belledune Generating Station operational for decades to come.
“Climate change is the biggest challenge facing humankind,” said Energy and Resource Development Minister Rick Doucet. “Coal-fired power plants are major emitters of greenhouse gases, and we have an opportunity to explore new alternative fuel sources while, at the same time, growing the provincial economy through innovation.”
NB Power is analyzing alternative fuel sources to power the Belledune station. The utility has invested up to $7 million to investigate the use of hydrogen fuel sources, while also looking at biomass and natural gas as alternatives.
This initiative is part of a larger strategy to reduce greenhouse gas emissions across a variety of sectors.
The provincial government committed in 2016 to work with the federal government, neighbouring provinces, NB Power and other stakeholders toward phasing out coal as a source of electricity as quickly as possible.
“We have a tremendous asset in the power plant at Belledune, and we plan to capitalize on that asset by investigating innovative, leading sources of alternative fuel,” said Doucet. “In the unlikely event an alternative fuel source cannot be found, an equivalency agreement could still be pursued with Ottawa consistent with the federal government’s low carbon economy plan.”
NB Power is also implementing other initiatives to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions, including a variety of consumer-based energy efficiency programs, smart grid applications, and demand side management.
In addition, the utility is working with partners to install electric vehicle charging stations across the province, and is also encouraging the development of more community-based renewable electricity projects.
“This clearly demonstrates NB Power’s commitment to lead the way on the environmental front, while still keeping rates very competitive in the future,” said NB Power president CEO Gaëtan Thomas. “It fits with our vision of sustainable energy for our customers. It is the right thing to do. We are looking at how we can achieve the greatest possible reduction in greenhouse gas emissions while maintaining the safe and reliable operation of our electricity system.”
The government and NB Power are also investigating funding opportunities for clean energy initiatives from the federal government. The recently formed New Brunswick Energy Solutions Corporation is a joint venture of the government and NB Power to capitalize upon New Brunswick’s geography in exporting energy and to pursue economic development opportunities in the clean energy sector.
Over the next five years, $234 million will be invested in making New Brunswick homes, businesses and public spaces more energy efficient. These investments include up to $82 million from NB Power, up to $51 million from the federal government through the Low Carbon Economy Fund, and $101 million for energy retrofits and renewable energy upgrades in provincial government buildings.
The multi-year investments will begin in the spring of 2018 and will support an estimated $150-million GDP growth and up to 400 jobs over the five-year period.
Last year, the provincial government launched Transitioning to a Low-Carbon Economy – New Brunswick’s Climate Change Action Plan. Based on recommendations from the select committee on climate change, it provides a list of actions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions while promoting economic growth and increasing the province’s resilience to climate change through adaption.
Jean Bertin, communications,
Department of Energy and Resource Development,
communications, NB Power,