Canadian power generator TransAlta has unveiled its Clean Energy Investment Plan, which will focus on transitioning its coal assets to natural gas while strengthening its position in the renewable energy segment.
The company’s plan, which is expected to cost nearly $1.5bn (C$2bn) will see its thermal units converted from coal to natural gas in 2020 and 2021 in the Alberta region of Canada.
Additionally, the company also intends to transform two of its units to combined-cycle natural gas units between 2023 and 2024.
The investment plan includes around C$800m for renewable energy projects that are currently under construction. The four wind projects currently under construction are located in the US and Canada, all of which have long-term power purchase agreements.
The plan will be funded through cash generated from operations as well as from TransAlta Renewables, along with cash raised earlier in 2019 through the strategic investment with an affiliate of Brookfield Renewable Partners.
Through these initiatives, the company intends to enhance the life of its thermal assets in Alberta as well as reduce air emissions and costs. TransAlta anticipates that these investments will position its electricity generators fleet as one of the low-cost generators in Alberta.
The company stated that it remains committed to return up to C$250m ($188m) to shareholders over the next three years through share repurchases and also reduce its corporate-level debt by C$400m ($301m) in 2020.
In June 2018 TransAlta Renewables acquired an economic interest from TransAlta in the 50MW Lakeswind windfarm in Minnesota, and solar projects with 21MW capacity in Massachusetts.
In addition, the company acquired ownership of the 20MW Kent Breeze windfarm located in Ontario, Canada.
The three assets, which have an average weighted contract life of 15 years, were acquired in a deal valued at C$166m ($128m), including the assumption of C$62m ($47m) of tax equity obligations and project debt.