FEATURE // SWiTching OFF cOAl signed with us to transform our coal fleet and develop new renewables also became a key feature,” she says of the collaboration with the Alberta government. A newly elected NDP provincial government in 2015 decided to go off coal quickly. Its Climate Leadership Plan included an unexpected deadline: Alberta would be coal-free by 2030. As Alberta’s largest coal generator, TransAlta rose to the challenge. Already the largest producer of renewable power in the province, it applied its wide range of expertise to the new opportunity. At the end of 2016, the Alberta government and TransAlta unveiled a plan to take the province from 60 percent coal in 2015 to 100 percent gas and renewables by 2030 or sooner. “Instead of worrying about the future,” Farrell told the TransAlta team, “we’ll use analysis and innovation to work our way to finding cheaper and more-compelling offers for our customers. In other words, we’ll replace worry with work. It’s my go-to strategy for what always seems like an uncertain future.” Technology, collaboration and a price on pollution are working together to make progress on the goal. More renewables, including additional wind, solar and hydro, are part of the mix. Coal-to-gas conversions of thermal plants will continue to provide base load for the electricity grid. And adding pumped-storage to the 1960s-era Brazeau hydro facility may provide more power and act as a battery to help firm the system. As the first pumped-storage facility in the Canadian West, the Brazeau expansion project also has the potential to generate 600-900 MW of additional power for the grid. TransAlta also announced plans to retire one of its oldest thermal plants, mothball another, and convert eight TransAlta Commons interior at Centralia College. (TransAlta) 34 Western Energy / Fall 2017 / westernenergy.org/we TransAlta Commons at Centralia College in Washington opened in the spring of 2017.