10/22/2015 15:27 EDT | Updated 10/22/2016 01:12 EDT

Saskatchewan ups natural gas power supply with $525M plant expansion

REGINA — Saskatchewan has fired up a $525 million project on a natural gas power plant that could help reduce the province's reliance on coal.

SaskPower, the province's utility company, says the expansion to Saskatoon's Queen Elizabeth power station could generate enough electricity to power more than 200,000 homes.

SaskPower says that means natural gas becomes the number 1 generating source in the province, surpassing conventional coal.

Natural gas-based power produces less than half of the greenhouse gas emissions of conventional coal and can quickly provide power for peak hours.

However, Energy Minister Bill Boyd cautions that the province might use less natural gas if prices for the commodity go up.

According to SaskPower's website, 44 per cent of Saskatchewan's power came from coal in 2014 and 29 per cent came from gas.

The Canadian Press