mcBride lake wind facility in Fort macleod, Alberta. The facility is made up of 114 Vestas V47 wind turbines and is one of the largest wind farms in Canada. (TransAlta) In 2011, Washington’s then-Governor Christine Gregoire encouraged TransAlta’s President and CEO Dawn Farrell and the Sierra Club of Washington State’s Bruce Nilles to craft an accelerated, coal phase-out solution. Both sides had to compromise. The Beyond Coal campaign and TransAlta’s goals came together, Farrell recalls. “We created a way to do a coal transition years before others in our sector,” she said. Labor, environmental groups, community leaders and legislators all participated in the process. Collaborating to build a strong community The deal included $55 million of community investment over 10 years, Alberta action Dawn Farrell used the Washington example in Canada when it came time for Alberta’s coal transition. “The memorandum of understanding they 33 Western Energy / Fall 2017 / westernenergy.org/we Centralia operations. “The agreement gave us greater certainty going forward, and it is allowing us to look at future generation opportunities in the state.” TransAlta is also exploring coal-to-gas conversions for its Centralia thermal units. As part of the 2011 agreement, the State of Washington included expedited permitting if the company chose to transition to natural gas. With an increasing emphasis on renewables, customers are going to need backup capacity to firm the load. Under a long-term contract, natural gas could be a way for TransAlta to meet the demand for reliable and affordable electricity as more renewable power continues to be integrated. and includes additional environmental controls, economic development initiatives and retraining. TransAlta had already partnered with Centralia College to provide scholarships and to build a new college commons. By the fall of 2017, it will house the school’s admissions center, student support services, the college bookstore, future technology classrooms, an expanded cafeteria, and a 500-seat dining and meeting space for the campus and community.