11/10/2015 07:37 EST | Updated 11/10/2015 07:59 EST

Saskatchewan Energy Minister Blames Rising Greenhouse Gas Emissions On Growing Population

Michael Bell/The Canadian Press

REGINA — Saskatchewan Energy Minister Bill Boyd says greenhouse gas emissions are going up because there are more people in the province.

"We have a growing population here in Saskatchewan. We have a growing economy here in Saskatchewan. There's more power being used year-over-year and a result of that, there's going to be more GHG emissions,'' Boyd said Tuesday.

"That's a challenge to say the least.''

The government is under fire from the Opposition for quietly raising its carbon dioxide emissions amounts.

The 2013 annual report from SaskPower estimated there would be 665 tonnes of carbon dioxide per gigawatt hour of power in 2015 and 646 tonnes in 2016.

But the 2014 report, which was released in the spring by SaskPower, shows the emissions target for this year is up to 678 tonnes per gigawatt hour of power and up to 667 tonnes next year.

New Democrat Cathy Sproule called the increase "disturbing'' and equals putting about 200,000 cars on the road.

Boyd says he makes no apologies for having a growing economy and more people in the province.

Saskatchewan's population has grown in every quarter for the past nine years. There were 1,133,637 people living in Saskatchewan on July 1, an increase of 3,100 since April 1.

SaskPower says it's been adding about 10,000 new customers every year since 2011.

Saskatchewan relies heavily on coal for power. SaskPower's 2014 report says coal represents about 37 per cent of the utility's total generation capacity and the majority of its baseload power generation.

Boyd says the province is looking at adding more renewable sources of power, such as wind, and investing in carbon capture.

"I think certainly we're working towards making some changes with respect to the emissions and that's why we've employed these other areas,'' he said.

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