"If elected, where do you stand on coal-fired electricity in our province? Would you reverse the direction we're currently on and end the carbon tax burden, or slow the coal phase-out to more of a 2040 timeline? Thanks, from a coal miner."
Yes, the answer is yes. I would do everything I can to stop the NDP's reckless rush to shut down a vital Alberta industry. Coal-fired electricity plants are the backbone of Alberta's electricity generation, and, therefore, help our whole economy to move, producing power at less than four cents a kilowatt hour, and with a shrinking environmental footprint. As you know, clean coal technology means that there are fewer and fewer environmental pollutants released into the atmosphere as a result of coal fire. The reality is that the NDP is rushing to prematurely shut down the most modern, cleanest coal plants, which makes no sense.
I think it would make a lot more sense for us to continue investing in clean coal technology, which we can then export to the developing world so that they can reduce the carbon output coming from their expanding coal fire plants. The rest of the world is planning on building some 2000 plants. Even Germany, which supposedly prides itself on being a green economy, is building more coal-fired electricity plants, believe it or not.
By the way, there's a left-wing magazine out there called Alberta Views that has put me on their front cover as the biggest defender of the coal industry in Alberta. I'm not the least bit ashamed with the accusation made against me.
Whether or not we can reverse the NDP's policy direction will be dependent on what the companies decide to do themselves. We cannot compel the power companies in Alberta to rip up whatever contracts they've signed with the government of Alberta. We cannot compel them if they've decided to convert some of these plants from coal-fired to natural gas cogeneration. If they make major capital investments, I doubt they will be willing to revert back to coal production.
It's a little difficult for me to predict exactly how this will unfold. After we come to office, we'll have to take a very close look at the contracts that the power companies signed with the government. I will tell you this, I will encourage those companies to continue with the inexpensive and reliable production of electricity through modern clean coal plants.