As Saskatchewan prepares to take over management of the carbon tax paid by heavy emitters in the province, Premier Scott Moe says he’s in talks with Ottawa over what to do with the money paid to the federal government since pollution pricing began in 2019.
Prior to the provincial output-based performance standards program, which was approved by the federal government Tuesday, carbon pricing for electricity generation facilities in Saskatchewan has fallen under the federal output-based pricing system (OBPS).
The province will begin collecting that money, paid by an organization when its facility exceeds a specified carbon emissions benchmark, on Jan. 1.
So far though, Moe says, $480 million has been paid by SaskPower and its ratepayers to the federal government under the federal OBPS program and a decision has yet to be made on exactly how that money will be spent.
“They have some ideas on how that can be, and those discussions are under way. There will be many parameters on how that’s returned,” Moe said at the Saskatchewan legislature Wednesday.
Asked where he would like to see that money returned Moe said he would be open to investing it in nuclear energy, an option the province has repeatedly announced intentions of pursuing.
“We have a parallel decision that’s coming on how we’re going to generate power into the future. We are looking at significant, significant investments that need to be made in our power generation facilities across Canada,” Moe said, referencing federal government goals of achieving a net-zero energy grid by 2035.
Asked if, moving forward, carbon tax paid by SaskPower will be invested in the same way, Moe said those discussions are also ongoing within provincial bounds.
“A priority of the investment we would make would be in that transition of what, ultimately, our power generation will look like and to ensure it is as affordable as possible for Saskatchewan residents.”
Saskatchewan Opposition Leader Carla Beck was asked for her thoughts on the future of the $480-million fund Thursday.
“The purpose of applying the price is to drive down the emissions. We would like to see measures effective in reducing emissions,” Beck told reporters.
“Nuclear is one of the options. We want to see a plan that is not behind closed doors. These are huge investments, and considerations for the future of this province. We want to make sure that the plan is done in such a way that we have reliable energy, will reduce emissions and won’t stick Saskatchewan people with power sources they can’t afford.”