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Decision delayed on next phases of Boundary Dam carbon capture

A carbon capture and storage (CCS) facility has been in place at Boundary Dam unit 3 since October 2014 with early plans in place to also convert units 4 and 5.
A carbon capture and storage (CCS) facility has been in place at Boundary Dam unit 3 since October 2014 with early plans in place to also convert units 4 and 5. Adrian Raaber / Global News

REGINA – SaskPower now says it won’t make a decision about converting additional units at the Boundary Dam power station to capture carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions until the end of 2017.

A carbon capture and storage (CCS) facility has been in place at Boundary Dam unit 3 since October 2014 with early plans in place to also convert units 4 and 5.

SaskPower had previously said it would make a call by the end of next year, with new federal regulations cracking down on coal burning power stations by 2019.

“We need a year of stable operation.”

“There was never a firm decision,” said SaskPower president and CEO Mike Marsh. “You don’t undertake a project in excess of a billion dollars without the facts.”

READ MORE: What’s the business case for Boundary Dam?

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Poor performance and criticisms of SaskPower’s level of transparency have plagued the $1.5-billion project in recent weeks.

“We need a year of stable operation near maximum performance to really test the technology and commercial viability going forward,” Marsh said. “You need that data in order to inform the next decision because it’s going to be a big decision.”

Cathy Sproule, the NDP’s SaskPower critic, suggested the government should have provided more evidence of the project’s success by now if it is to go ahead.

“To delay this for another year is outrageous,” Sproule said. “If they haven’t figured it out yet, there are a lot of concerns we need to start really screaming about.”

The plant has been capturing CO2 less than 50 per cent of the time due to mechanical issues, despite several claims it was exceeding expectations.

After a series of leaked documents were made public by the Opposition NDP, the Crown and Sask. Party government have admitted they could have been more up-front about the problems.

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