Regina —The Saskatchewan office of the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives’ series "Transforming Saskatchewan's Electricity Future" was launched with the publication of "Sustainability is Achievable, But How Do We Get There?" by Mark Bigland-Pritchard and Peter Prebble.
The report – developed in partnership with Green Energy Project Saskatchewan – outlines how Saskatchewan can leave coal-fired electricity generation behind, and with it the vast bulk of our electricity-produced greenhouse gas emissions, while building a renewable energy system that includes rural and Aboriginal communities.
“With the best solar and inland wind resources in Canada, extensive possibilities for biomass energy production, reasonable hydroelectric potential, and a very low population density, Saskatchewan should be well-placed to lead the world in the inevitable shift away from fossil fuels,” the authors write, “Yet currently the province is heavily dependent on coal and is among the world's very highest per capita greenhouse gas emitters.”
Report author Mark Bigland-Pritchard states: "It is one of the urgent tasks of our generation to make this shift. It will require a major re-think of the way we do electricity, but the result will be less pollution, fewer health problems, more stable costs, more jobs and stronger communities".
"Two other provinces in Canada - Nova Scotia and Ontario - are making the transition away from coal and towards renewable electricity,” notes series co-author Peter Prebble, “the time has come for Saskatchewan to do the same."
Transition to a sustainable electricity system is a real possibility in Saskatchewan. As the report states, “none of the technical and economic barriers is insuperable: the questions to be resolved concern the best technical, legislative and logistical routes to take — and whether the province can find the political will to do so.”
Some of the highlights from the report include:
- Saskatchewan has traditionally spent less than $1 million per year on electricity efficiency, while Manitoba’s electricity efficiency budget has been over $35 million per year for years. We have the potential to realize 300 MW in electrical efficiency alone.
- Renewables — and even more so efficiency/conservation — have been consistently found to generate more jobs per dollar of investment, and more jobs per kWh, than either fossil fuels or nuclear.
- The renewables available in Saskatchewan — wind, sun, hydro and biomass — are all ideally suited for community-scale development.
- A grid based more on distributed generation, and less on large power stations, can offer more jobs, stabilize more communities, help more families to stay together by creating an alternative to long-distance commuting, enable more family farms to stay solvent, and provide opportunities for some First Nations communities.