FREDERICTON (GNB) – The provincial government is pursuing an equivalency agreement with the federal government which would allow the Belledune Generating Station to continue to operate at a reduced capacity to the end of its scheduled operating life. This would help ensure the province continues on a path to meet its greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) reduction targets for 2030 and 2050.

“We are working with the federal government to establish an equivalency agreement that will help us achieve equivalent or better greenhouse gas reductions from electricity generation than if we were to shut Belledune down in 2030,” said Environment and Climate Change Minister Gary Crossman. “Our made-in-New Brunswick plan will put the province on a clear path towards a clean electricity future while at the same time avoiding a significant impact on electricity rates.”

Under the federal government’s coal regulation, the Belledune coal-fired generating station would be forced to close in 2030 which is 11 years ahead of schedule. It is estimated that such a move would increase electricity rates by 12 to 17 per cent in 2030.

In the absence of an equivalency agreement, NB Power would be required to build a new natural gas generation capacity to ensure the reliability of the electrical system. Under the proposed provincial equivalency agreement, Belledune would continue to operate past 2030 until its scheduled end of operation in 2040, but at a reduced rate and with reduced greenhouse gas emissions. Achieving an equivalent or better GHG emissions reduction would require NB Power to operate the entire electrical system differently; but at a significantly lower cost than closing Belledune ahead of schedule.

“An equivalency agreement would provide a managed transition from coal to reliable, on-demand, emission-free sources of electricity such as Small Modular Reactors, renewable energy and new transmission infrastructure,” said Natural Resources and Energy Development Minister Mike Holland. “This is not about committing to burning coal until 2040. This gives us another option we can use to further reduce New Brunswick’s carbon footprint.”

Draft regulations that limit greenhouse gas emissions from electrical generation have been posted for a 28-day public review and comment period. These regulations outline GHG caps on electrical generation within the province that would deliver equal or better GHG emission reductions than the federal regulation. This draft regulation will form the basis of the province’s equivalency discussions with the federal government.

Equivalency agreements of this type are already in place in Nova Scotia and Saskatchewan and must be renewed every five years.