A Message from Steve Snyder, President & CEO
Sustainability is about balance. We live in a world today in which climate change is forcing us to rethink how we generate energy to power our cities, heat our homes and fuel our cars. Now, more than ever, we are forced to balance the needs of the environment with the needs of the economy.
At TransAlta, we call this balance the “Triple E” equation. In other words, society’s economic growth is directly tied to energy consumption and environmental impact. Finding the balance within this equation is what drives how we think about the future growth of our business and our approach to sustainability and environmental responsibility, all while being mindful of the needs of customers, shareholders, employees, and the communities in which we operate.
In 2009, we set out with a clear strategic approach to sustainability – to meet the growing appetite for power while minimizing the impact on the environment. Within this, we remained committed to growing our business while advancing our environmental performance. A key component of this strategy is the continued growth of our renewable generation capacity, including wind, hydro and geothermal, while running our coal assets to provide reliable and affordable electricity.
In November 2009, with the acquisition of Canadian Hydro Developers, we became known as the largest publicly traded provider of renewable energy in Canada. The acquisition accelerated the expansion of our renewable portfolio and positioned us as a North American leader in renewables. TransAlta now has net generation capacity of 8,657 MW in operation. Our renewables portfolio includes 2,000 MW in operation or 22 per cent of our portfolio.
At the same time, we continued to invest in the development of our own pipeline of renewable energy projects. This included the 66 MW Blue Trail wind farm, which began commercial operations in November 2009 on time and on budget. We also started construction of two additional wind projects in Alberta, the 66 MW Summerview II wind farm expansion and the 69 MW Ardenville project; both of which are scheduled for completion in 2010. Together with the acquisition of Canadian Hydro Developers, we are moving forward with unparalleled operational and development expertise in renewable energy and providing new and exciting opportunities for our customers and employees.
While we recognize the value of investing in renewable energy and diversifying our portfolio, the reality is: coal remains the world’s most reliable, economical, and available source of energy. It provides over 40 per cent of the world’s electricity and is deeply embedded in the global economy.
The successful implementation of carbon capture and storage (CCS) is crucial if Canada and the world are to address the carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions challenge. In October 2009, we partnered with the governments of Canada and Alberta to build one of the world’s first fully integrated CCS facilities for a coal-fired power plant. We believe investment in CCS technology is vital to the continued development of our energy resources in an environmentally sustainable way. This public-private partnership moves us a step closer toward the maturation of CCS technology and reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Project Pioneer, located at the Keephills 3 power plant, is expected to reduce CO2 emissions by one million tonnes annually and account for 20 per cent of the Government of Alberta’s reduction target by 2015. In addition to investing in CCS, we are continuing to find ways to enhance the environmental component of our Environment, Health & Safety Management System to meet ISO 14001 standards.
We believe that combining the strength of our renewables, the base of our coal generation, and investments in technology will enable us to stay ahead of the curve and position us to succeed and grow in a world in which carbon is constrained. We recognize that a key part of our future success lies in building solid, long-term relationships with partners, stakeholders and government. A significant reduction in greenhouse gases will take both time and collaboration.
Beyond our evolving partnership with government, we need to remain focused on strengthening the relationships we have with our neighbours and with the communities in which we operate. As we look to increase our impact in the community, we also look to invest at home. Our people are the cornerstone of our organization and critical to TransAlta’s future and continued progress. We must remain focused on operational excellence and providing a safe and compelling work environment for our employees. These are priorities for us. They are central to our business strategy and the foundation of our plans to power the next generation.
After 100 years of leadership and successful operation, we continue to provide an essential service while minimizing our impact on the environment. As the landscape of the energy sector changes, TransAlta will advance our performance. We will stay the course and continue to collaborate, make investments in our people, fund technology and grow our low-carbon fleet of power generation assets. This unique approach will put us in the position to lead, and power the next generation.
President & Chief Executive Officer