REGINA — Saskatchewan has fired up a $525-million project on a natural gas power plant that could help reduce the province's reliance on coal.
SaskPower, the province's utility company, says the expansion to Saskatoon's Queen Elizabeth power station could generate enough electricity to supply more than 200,000 homes.
SaskPower says that means natural gas would become the No. 1 generating source in the province, surpassing conventional coal.
Energy Minister Bill Boyd said the power sources could be switched depending on commodity prices.
"Certainly natural gas is being used in greater amounts. However, if prices of natural gas go up, then we start backing off of the use of natural gas and use other ways of generating," he said.
Natural-gas-based power produces less than half the greenhouse gas emissions of conventional coal and can quickly provide power for peak hours.
SaskPower's website says 44 per cent of Saskatchewan's power came from coal in 2014 and 29 per cent came from gas.
"Coal will still be a significant part of the generation fleet going forward, although it will be much more along the lines of clean coal," said Boyd.
The minister pointed to a carbon capture and storage project at the Boundary Dam power plant. The $1.4-billion facility takes carbon dioxide released by a coal-fired power plant near Estevan and releases the gas deep underground using a steel pipeline for storage.
The Canadian Press