September 24, 2007

Sask to establish $320M Green Future Fund, climate change secretariat

Saskatchewan will use proceeds from the sale of the provincial Crown Investment Corporation's 50% interest in NewGrade Energy to establish a new Green Future Fund. Premier Lorne Calvert recently reported that the CIC's interest in the Regina heavy oil upgrader has been sold to a party whose name cannot be released for regulatory reasons until later this fall.

"We have achieved fair market value for CIC's interest in the upgrader," said Calvert, adding, "CIC will retain $320 million to capitalize the Green Future Fund."

He said the Green Future Fund will make investments in four areas: conservation and efficiency ($100 million); carbon capture and storage in the oil and gas, and electricity sectors ($125 million); the increased use of renewable energy ($75 million); and the reduction of methane and other emissions from Saskatchewan's oil, gas and agriculture sectors ($20 million).

In addition to founding the Green Future Fund, the provincial government is initiating the process of establishing a climate change secretariat, in accordance with its Energy and Climate Change Plan, released in June. Premier Calvert will be the Minister responsible for the secretariat, which will operate out of the CIC. To be staffed by ten climate change experts, the secretariat will be responsible for co-ordinating and overseeing implementation of the plan, including provision of progress reports. It will seek out and analyze opportunities and initiatives for achieving the plan's targets and will provide co-ordination among government departments and crown agencies. Saskatchewan's Office of Energy Conservation will become part of the new secretariat.

"The Climate Change Secretariat will provide the leadership and concentrated focus we will need to implement our ambitious agenda and meet our aggressive targets," said Calvert.

"Many of our Crown corporations will require significant capital in the coming years to research, develop and implement green strategies and to renew and build utility infrastructure that will reduce our environmental footprint," said CIC Minister Judy Junor. "SaskPower, in particular, will need to replace traditional electrical generation with new, renewable sources. The Green Future Fund will be one way to provide some of the risk capital to test and assist in the development of new technologies, thereby relieving customers of part of the burden of paying these costs."

The secretariat will have an initial operating budget of about $1.5 million and is expected to be in operation this fall. The CIC is working out the details of the Green Future Fund and will make these public in the near future.

The province has committed to stabilizing its greenhouse gas emissions by 2010 and reducing emissions to 32% below current levels by 2020, a reduction of 22 tonnes per capita. Its 2050 target is to reduce emissions by 80% from current levels, a reduction of 55 tonnes per capita.

In other climate change-related activities, the Saskatchewan government will provide more than $500 million for a suite of sustainable and renewable energy programs designed to advance the province's Green Strategy and Energy and Climate Change Plan.

To position the electrical grid for additional wind, biomass and other renewable generation projects, SaskPower will install up to 400 megawatts (MW) of simple cycle natural gas turbines, at a capital cost of approximately $525 million. The turbines will be installed over the next five years in areas where electricity supply is most needed. This will reinforce the existing electrical system and minimize transmission costs.

The province also plans to expand its green power portfolio-currently comprising the 150-MW Centennial wind power facility and customer energy efficiency and conservation initiatives-to include:

*the expansion of wind generation in Saskatchewan, with a goal of an additional 100 MW by 2012;

*delivery of waste heat recovery projects, with a goal of 50 MW by 2010;

*delivery of biomass forestry projects, with a goal of 20 MW by 2010;

*a net metering program which will allow customers to generate their own electricity and send excess electricity to the electrical grid in return for a credit toward their energy costs;

*phase three of the Environmentally Preferred Power Program, to solicit additional renewable power projects from the private sector; and,

*more energy efficiency and conservation programs, with a target of reducing electricity demand by 300 MW by 2017.

Details related to these programs will be announced in the coming months.

Leading up to this supply decision, SaskPower investigated and analyzed a number of supply options, including clean coal, polygeneration and large-scale hydro. The utility will continue to explore these and other available options as it prepares to make its next major supply decision, expected in 2009. More information is available on SaskPower's Web site, www.saskpower.com.

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