Alberta coal customers stock up ahead of carbon tax

Click to play video 'Rural Albertans prepare to feel the burn of the carbon tax' Rural Albertans prepare to feel the burn of the carbon tax
WATCH ABOVE: When the province's new carbon tax comes into effect, another segment of Albertans will feel an even greater burn at home. Laurel Gregory explains. – Dec 29, 2016

This Jan. 1, drivers who use diesel or gas and homeowners who rely on natural gas won’t be the only ones paying more as a result of Alberta’s new carbon levy. Rural Albertans who heat their homes and businesses with coal will feel the burn too.

Right now they pay $42 per tonne for coal. A carbon levy will tack on an additional $35.39 per tonne in 2017.

Coal customers are seizing the opportunity to stock up. Many in central Alberta are making repeat trips to Dodds Coal Mine east of Camrose.

“We’ve sold more coal in the last month than we typically do in two to three months,” said Carlene Wetthuhn, the mine’s office manager.

“A lot of our customers don’t have a natural gas line in place or they don’t have the option of burning natural gas without spending thousands if not tens of thousands of dollars to convert…they’re not in the financial position to be able to do that.”

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Watch below: What will Alberta’s carbon tax cost you?

Click to play video 'What will Alberta’s carbon tax cost you?' What will Alberta’s carbon tax cost you?
What will Alberta’s carbon tax cost you? – Dec 28, 2016

For Duane and Bev Ronsko, the owners of Bluesky Trailer Manufacturing, the tax will nearly double their heating costs. Right now, they spend $900 a month to heat their home and workshops using coal.

“With the carbon levy doubling our cost we have no choice to pass that on to our customers,” Duane Ronsko said. “We’re not sure about all our freight charges that are coming in for a lot of the tires and paint and raw products we get in. We’re told we’re going to get a carbon levy on top of our freight so that’s gonna add on.”

Between the levy and a lost customer base caused by the economic downturn, the Ronskos anticipate they may be taking an early retirement.

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Global News contacted the Alberta Government’s Environment Ministry and Climate Change Office but no one was available for an interview prior to deadline.

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