This community has been built on the backs of hard-working coal miners since the first coal deposits were noticed in 1857.
The federal government’s goal is to phase out coal completely by 2030, leaving hundreds jobless here. Estevan has been powering this province for almost a century.
The issue at hand is the fact that there is no feasible alternative to coal. The fact that the federal government is pushing a UN agenda does not help the community of Estevan.
What will the workers at the mine and power plant do to make a living, and enjoy the lifestyle that they have provided for their families? The problem these workers in Estevan will face is what are they going to do for work after the closure of all coal-fired power plants? How will the provincial and federal government recoup the lost tax revenue that is created through income tax, business taxes and real estate tax?
The solution to this problem is simple. We have to continue operating these power stations as they are. The mines and SaskPower provide high-paying jobs for the residents of Estevan and the surrounding community.
We have learned that natural gas has become more expensive and is ineffective when it comes to extreme cold weather. Nuclear, solar and wind all have inherent issues that make success in Saskatchewan highly unlikely.
Wind power can be used to an extent but once the wind speeds are over 60 kilometres per hour, they begin to shutter and shut down. Nuclear power plants can be successful but are detrimental to the environment, leaving no place for nuclear waste to be properly disposed of. Solar power works until it is covered in snow and we know in Saskatchewan there is a lot of it.
The sociological affect here is that if the power plants and mine close, these workers will be forced to move out of our city in order to find new feasible work with a fairly high pay rate.
The mine and power plants bring people from all over the province to our city for work, making it a more culturally diverse community, filled with opportunity to grow.
The balance of the solution that I would propose is exciting. If we were able to restore new life into the power plants that are close to being shut down, it would provide high-quality jobs with good pay. What this would allow us as a community is the opportunity to grow and flourish as we have in the past.
This scope of project would create years of jobs and ensure financial stability for our local businesses and real estate values. The tax that the provincial government would receive via income tax would be substantial and help fund other projects within the province.
Also, the PST that will be charged on all of the materials is revenue that goes into the government’s income fund.
In conclusion, with nuclear, wind and solar not being able to support the power needs of our province, especially with our unique and distinct weather, coal and power are the only feasible entities to ensure that the lights stay on in the middle of our very cold winters.
With no major powers in the world moving away from coal, especially outside of North America, why should we ruin the economy and livelihoods for the residents of Saskatchewan? Coal is the cost effective, abundant and efficient way of powering our communities.
Yes, there is definitely a need to look at an alternative or supportive energy products and time may allow the creation of systems we have never even dreamed of in our wildest thoughts. However, for the benefit of everyone in Saskatchewan, we need to keep the lights on, keep our jobs, and keep our small communities alive and thriving.
People are the power source of our community so let’s keep the lights on and work together for a better socio-economic future.
Editor’s Note; Zajac is a senior student at the University of Regina