Actual carbon capture performance doesn't match Wall’s story

The Sask. Party government’s carbon capture project performed worse throughout 2015 than the year before, and an internal operations chart contradicts Brad Wall's statements – showing the Sask. Party still isn't coming clean.

According to SaskPower’s operations chart for the $1.5 billion Boundary Dam carbon capture plant, its peak performance – when it captured just 78 per cent of total daily carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions – was achieved last November. Throughout 2015 it has struggled to capture 55 per cent of daily emissions. Numbers languishing around 40 per cent, and days and weeks at a time during which it captured no CO2 at all, were common, dragging down the already dismal overall capture rate.

“Mr. Wall still isn’t telling Saskatchewan people the truth about what’s been going on at the carbon capture project,” said NDP Leader Cam Broten. “He’s so focused on face-saving, short-term politics that Saskatchewan people – our money and our publicly owned Crown corporation – clearly aren’t his priority.

“Mountains of taxpayers' money have been poured into this carbon capture experiment at the expense of other affordable, job-creating solutions for our province's generation of electricity. It was never acceptable to hide the truth from Saskatchewan and the world. But now that he’s been caught, all of his concocted stories have to end so we can start getting at the truth and looking for solutions.”

On Oct. 1, 2014, Wall announced via Twitter that at 3 p.m. the plant was “fully operational.”

Last week, he defended that statement, saying the plant ran at full capacity “when it opened.” When questioned if he meant that it operated at full capacity for a day, he said, "for longer than that."

In fact, SaskPower’s chart shows no CO2 was captured for about three weeks after the grand opening.

On Feb. 11, 2015, a SaskPower news release claimed the plant was “exceeding expectations” and “on target” to meet the goal of capturing one million tonnes of CO2 in 2015.

Defending that media release on Wednesday, Wall said: “Yeah, and when the press release is issued, the plant is operating at optimum capacity and there's every likelihood that that's going to be achieved.” Repeating the same claim, he later said: “At the time of the press release, when we want to make the announcement, the facility is at optimal efficiency and it's running."

In reality, the operational chart shows on Feb. 11, the plant had just been turned back on after a shutdown that lasted about six days, and was capturing only half of CO2 emissions.

Wall also claimed last week that “in some of the months it was running so efficient it was producing more CO2 than Cenovus would take. So the overall number would be made up in optimal months."

In fact, SaskPower's chart shows that optimal performance was never reached on a single day, let alone sustained for multiple months.

“Saskatchewan people ought to be able to trust what the premier says, but it's clear that we can't, because so many of his stories about this $1.5 billion carbon capture experiment just don't match with reality,” said Broten. “And the worst part is that Saskatchewan people are going to be paying the price for this mess for decades to come. Already, we are paying a lot more for electricity under this government, because the Sask. Party has repeatedly jacked up our power rates. Now, with all these losses piling up and a $1.5 billion project that isn't working, our power bills are going to jump even further.”