NEWS
04/28/2015 15:21 EDT | Updated 06/28/2015 01:12 EDT

Power producer TransAlta looking at reviving carbon capture and storage plans

CALGARY - TransAlta Corp.'s (TSX:TA) CEO says the power generator may take another run at adding carbon capture and storage to one of its Alberta coal plants.Dawn Farrell says a potential project is more than a glint in the company's eye, but no plans have been firmed up yet.About three years ago, TransAlta and its partners abandoned plans to build Project Pioneer, a $1.4-billion carbon capture project planned at TransAlta's Keephills 3 plant.Pioneer had the financial backing of the provincial and federal governments as part of their climate change strategies, but Farrell said any new carbon capture undertaking would have to be economically feasible without government money.The issue for Pioneer was that there wasn't enough demand from oil companies to use the carbon dioxide to help coax more oil from mature reservoirs.Farrell says nowadays there's likely a bigger appetite for the gas to be used for this purpose, which is why carbon capture is worth revisiting.Also on Tuesday, TransAlta said it had cut the workforce in its Canadian coal generating unit by 20 per cent in an effort to save money.It said 164 positions were eliminated as a result of the reorganization, but only 27 were full-time layoffs. The rest were through attrition, retirements and reassignments.The Calgary-based company started the cost-saving initiative in January and it says a "large part" of the savings are already begin captured.The company says it expects to save $12 million annually.It incurred about $7 million in restructuring costs during the first three months of 2015.During the first quarter, TransAlta posted net earnings attributable to common shareholders of $26 million, down from $47 million a year earlier.Revenue was $593 million, compared to $775 million during the same period in 2014.