Provincial government announces incentive program for large carbon emitters; local impact not immediately known

By Charles Lefebvre
December 7, 2017 - 1:45pm Updated: December 7, 2017 - 7:10pm


MEDICINE HAT, AB — The provincial government has announced a new incentive program aimed at forcing large emitters to reduce their emissions, though the exact details about the local impact is not yet known.

The Carbon Competitiveness Incentive program was announced Wednesday by Environment Minister Shannon Phillips. The incentive will reward companies, such as oil sands, cement and fertilizer operators that invest in technology to reduce their carbon dioxide emissions to 100,000 tonnes per year.

The rules come into effect on January 1st, 2018. Industry will only have to pay 50 per cent of the costs next year, moving to 75 per cent for 2019, before the full regulations take force by 2020. The immediate goal is 20 million megatons of emissions province wide by 2020.

“That’s the same as all of the province of Manitoba’s emissions, or the same as getting 4.6 million cars off the road,” Phillips said in a news conference on Wednesday.

By 2030, Phillips says the new rules will cut emissions by 50 million tonnes, about the same as total emissions from Manitoba, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick combined.

Those businesses producing more than 100,000 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions will either have to purchase more rebates or pay $30/tonne in levies.

By 2020, the large carbon emitters will likely pay up to $1.2 billion/ year in levies, though the government says funding assistance of $1.4 billion dollars announced Tuesday will make it easier for industry to adapt. When carbon offsets and credits are factored in, the province will likely take in closer to $800 million.

In Medicine Hat, the largest emitters are CF Industries, Methanex and the city’s Electric Generation Plant. According to the most recent data available from the federal government, CF Industries was the largest emitter. In 2015, the plant emitted a total of 1,793,215 tonnes of greenhouse gases, the majority of which was carbon dioxide.

CF Industries declined to comment to CHAT News about the program.

Methanex was second, with 350,264 tonnes released in 2015.

“Methanex is supportive of the Alberta government’s approach to refining the regulation for large emitters, and we have been participating in the industry consultations.,” said Paul Daoust, vice-president -North America for Methanex, in a statement. “We are now beginning to review the details of the government’s announcement yesterday and aren’t in a position at this time to comment further.

The City of Medicine Hat’s electric generation plant was third, releasing 321,751 tonnes.

Brian Strandlund, general manager of electric generation with the city, says the city has been in consultations with the province about the program.

“The impact to the city is that the city will have to comply with these new, more stringent regulations,” he said. “For our units, we’ll run them as efficiently as we can.

“We only have the technology to support what it is right now, we can’t improve it at this point, but we’ll look at it into the future, of trying to improve our overall emissions.”

As part of the new initiatives, funding will be available to help companies and institutions purchase equipment to help lower their emissions.

Strandlund says the city has budgeted emissions and possible levies costs in the 2018-2020 budget, and does not anticipate any major changes.

He adds the city will continue to consult with the province about the program as it moves forward.

“This program was just rolled out yesterday, and we are working with them, and still looking at all of the details, and how it will affect us long-term,” he said.

Among other local emitters, Cancarb emitted 151,505 tonnes of greenhouse gases in 2015, and the JBS Plant in Brooks emitted 234,365 tonnes.


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