Meili announces commitment to geothermal power if elected Premier

Opposition Leader Ryan Meili took his campaign to the front of the SaskPower building in Regina Thursday morning to promise that an NDP government would work with the Crown Corporation on developing geothermal power.

Meili says he realizes the Sask Party government has already made promises on this file, but there has been no action thus far.

“They’ve been floating SMR technology, which we know won’t be ready for 15 or 20 years, in the mean time they’ve killed the solar industry in the province when they ended net metering,” Meili said. “They’re missing all of the opportunities that are available to us.”

Meili says the potential of geothermal energy excites him.

“There’s incredible opportunities in solar and wind, but we know that’s intermittent,” Meili said. “Geothermal power is always there, it’s dispatchable, and with the new technologies, it’s scaleable to start to play a major role in our baseload power.”

Meili says this would also help workers currently struggling in the energy sector.

“Estevan, also the (province’s) northwest-Lloydminster area, those seem to be the best opportunities for us, which are also the places that have been hardest hit by the loss in jobs in oil and gas, and loss in jobs in coal.”

Meili also announced a platform commitment of 50 percent renewable electricity by 2030, with a target of 100 per cent emissions-free electricity by 2050.

Emissions reductions a priority for government

Environment Minister Dustin Duncan suggested to reporters on Thursday afternoon at the Saskatchewan legislature that the Sask. Party government has put a significant priority on emissions reductions.

Duncan pointed to the government’s efforts to lower greenhouse gas emissions including their goal of a 40 per cent reduction by 2030, one he said they are on track to exceed. But overall, he’s satisfied with the amount of work his government has put into green energy in the province.

“What people are going to see will be a continuation from what they have already seen from this government in terms of looking towards implementing technology that will see real reductions in our emissions rather than a lot of the conversations we’ve had with the federal government,” explained the minister. “We focus more on technology rather than taxes.”

Duncan said the other thing residents are looking for is affordability, which he said people will see with his government, too.

Responding to the opposition’s plan of 100 per cent emissions-free electricity 30 years from now, Duncan said all available options to reduce emissions need to be reviewed.

“It’s early and it’s a high-cost technology, so I don’t at this point see it as a replacement for baseload power that we will likely have to retire over the next decade or less,” discussed Duncan. “I think it’s part of the mix, but it’s certainly not a large-scale replacement for baseload in the near future.”

He added there will be great strides in technology that will see significant reductions by 2050, but notes that 2050 is a long ways away.

(With files from Moises Canales)

More from 620 CKRM