REGINA – Saskatchewan’s Opposition says the carbon capture and storage facility at Boundary Dam is hurting the province’s international reputation.
SaskPower is being talked about around the world, but for the wrong reasons according to the NDP, who point to strong words from a United States senator, who once supported the project but now calls it a failure.
Joe Manchin, a Democrat from West Virginia known for backing coal-fired power plants south of the border, is denouncing the CCS plant near Estevan, which was used to help form new coal-fired power plant regulations in the U.S.
On November 10, he told Fox News “we based our plans on what we should be doing in America, to provide energy people depend upon, on a failed operation in Canada.”
In a letter to leaders of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Manchin says SaskPower performance results, used to form the agency’s policy, were false.
“Many of the glowing performance results cited by the EPA have been found to be nothing more than marketing spin and hyperbole,” the letter reads.
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NDP SaskPower critic Cathy Sproule says Crown executives aren’t telling the truth in trying to sell expertise gained from the CCS plant.
Sproule cited a SaskPower video presentation, still being used at events around the world, claiming the plant is capturing one million tonnes of carbon dioxide.
In reality, results have shown performance is less than half that. SaskPower showed the CCS unit on pace to capture roughly 400,000 tonnes of CO2 in 2015.
“The damage this is doing is very concerning,” Sproule said. “We need SaskPower … the government, to get it together, get the story straight.”
Since mid-Janaury, the best capture rate appears to be less than 65 per cent – and that’s only on the days the unit has been up and running. It’s been shut down due to mechanical issues more than half the time, SaskPower says.
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Bill Boyd, the minister responsible for SaskPower, admits Manchin’s comments aren’t helpful to the carbon capture plant’s reputation, but says there is still a strong international interest.
“We’re going to have to be very clear with people coming to look at this facility in the future that there’s problems associated with it,” Boyd said. “I don’t think they’d be unfamiliar with the fact that a project of this nature may have problems.”
Boyd says there are no more overseas trips scheduled to promote the CCS facility and that SaskPower will be more clear with international guests about the problems failures experienced so far.