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He said the up-front costs and uncertainty of drilling make government support that much more important.

Duncan responded to Meili in a media scrum Thursday. He didn’t sound as bullish about the part geothermal will play in the province’s power mix.

“At this point it’s early. It’s a high cost technology. So I don’t at this point see it as a replacement for baseload power that we’re likely going to have to retire over the next decade or less,” Duncan said.

“I think it’s a part of the mix, but it’s certainly not going to be a large scale replacement for baseload in the near future.”

He said the Saskatchewan Party plans to stay the course on its renewable energy and emissions reduction agenda during the election campaign.

“For those who have been impressed with where we’ve gone in the past with our emissions reduction plan and our focus on technology, they’ll see a continuation of that,” he said.

For geothermal, the plan is still to support private companies working on projects and then have SaskPower buy the power back.

Meili argued that geothermal projects would create jobs for oil sector workers with drilling expertise. He said the NDP believes in oil, gas and pipelines, but “we also recognize that the industry is changing.”

“We need a government that’s going to support Saskatchewan industry through those changes to create new jobs as we meet our energy needs and the energy needs of the world,” said Meili.

Ferguson agreed that geothermal development could provide jobs for oil sector workers.

“I don’t know that it would put everybody back to work,” he said. “I mean, it’s a slightly different game, but those are skills that we have here in Saskatchewan, and it’d be great to see some of those workers go back.”

awhite-crummey@postmedia.com

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