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Saskatchewan announces funding for coal energy transition in Estevan, Coronach

Once SaskPower closes Boundary Dams 4 and 5 in 2021 and 2024, the city expects at least 300 workers to be out of a job.
Once SaskPower closes Boundary Dams 4 and 5 in 2021 and 2024, the city expects at least 300 workers to be out of a job. Adrian Raaber / Global News

Some relief is on the way for Estevan, Coronach and surrounding areas in their transition away from coal.

The Saskatchewan government has created a fund of up to $10 million to help with new economic development opportunities.

Estevan is home to SaskPower’s Boundary Dams 4 and 5. The city expects at least 300 workers to be out of a job.

READ MORE: Estevan, Sask. preparing for coal phase-out putting hundreds of jobs at risk

“I think it’s a good start. We also started a transition committee in Estevan with stakeholders, with Saskatchewan Power Corporation (SPC),” Estevan Mayor Roy Ludwig said.

“So we will be looking at SPC to come to the table when the actual closures start — to help with employment, with training all the other issues associated with that.”

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The two dams will run until 2021 and 2024, through an equivalency agreement which prevented the dams from closing by the end of this year.

READ MORE: Feds announce funding for coal energy transition in Saskatchewan, Alberta

The Shand Power Station in Estevan may continue operating past 2030 if it is retrofitted with carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology. A decision on this is years away, according to the province.

Ludwig said some ideas being thrown around to help with the transition include manufacturing opportunities and possibly cannabis production.

But nothing is set in stone.

“We’ve got a few ideas on the go and now we will have to get together with Coronach and get a committee together and flush out the parameters,” Ludwig said.

READ MORE: Coronach, Sask. prepares for economic future with federal plans to phase out coal

Coronach is home to Westmoreland Coal Poplar River Mine and Poplar River Power Station, which are owned by SaskPower.

The loss of those mines will likely result in 80 per cent of residents leaving.

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Roughly 300 residents work at either the coal mine or the power station.

The funding comes on top of the $4.5 million already committed by the Canadian government.