Minister admits government needs to improve communication on coal phaseout

FILE - Dodds Coal Mine east of Camrose, Alta. Global News

Alberta’s minister of economic development admits that the information has been spotty so far on what is a burning issue for some Alberta communities.

The phaseout of coal power has raised lots of unanswered questions for towns that depend on the industry.

Deron Bilous, speaking with 630 CHED’s Ryan Jespersen, said he knows they need to improve communication, but more will be known when they hear from their coal panel in the fall.

“We’re going to do a better job communicating with workers and communities, and work diligently to identify opportunities so that these communities can continue to remain vibrant.”

LISTEN: Minister Deron Bilous speaks to coal communities on the Ryan Jespersen show on 630 CHED

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The province will have more specifics for each community then, said Bilous.

“Each of the communities are a little different, they have different assets, different strengths and we don’t want to apply a cookie-cutter model to all of the affected communities.”

For now, the province is working with some areas that will be converting their plants to coal, which will save some jobs. The province is offering up a $195 million fund over five years to help these areas adapt. Bilous said a number of places have already applied for money.

“One of the things that we’re trying to focus on is what supports does a community need to transition?”

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By 2030, the province plans to be completely weaned off of coal power, however some plants have plans to switch to natural gas as early as 2020.

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