Coal-to-Gas Conversions Project

Clean, Reliable and Affordable Electricity

As part of TransAlta’s transition to clean power, we intend to convert up to seven of our coal-fired generating units to natural gas at the Keephills and Sundance power plants.

As a leader in clean energy, TransAlta is planning to make this transition by converting the fuel source for its existing generators, allowing the plants to provide Albertans with clean, reliable and affordable electricity.

How does coal-to-gas conversion work?

Today, the existing generation units at Keephills and Sundance use both coal and natural gas to produce electricity. Natural gas is used to start up the units and can be used to produce up to approximately 30 per cent of the generation at each facility.

To convert the units to operate solely on natural gas, existing equipment will be modified, such as the boilers, fans and control systems. In addition, new equipment will be installed including: natural-gas burners, igniters, scanners, piping and valves; while coal-handling equipment will be retired, cleaned and stored in place.

Regulatory update

TransAlta filed amendment applications with the Alberta Utilities Commission (AUC) and Alberta Environment and Parks (AEP) in the summer of 2018. In December 2018, the AUC issued approvals for the conversions of the Sundance (units 3 – 6) and Keephills (units 1-2) power plants. In February 2019, the AUC issued approval for the conversion of Keephills 3.  In July 2019, the AEP issued final approvals for the conversions at the Sundance and Keephills plants.

Construction update

During the second quarter of 2019, we announced completion of the Pioneer Pipeline which is flowing natural gas to the generating units at Sundance and Keephills. The completion of the pipeline is a cornerstone in our strategy of transitioning to gas and a major milestone in our plan. In March 2020, TransAlta announced with its partner Tidewater Midstream & Infrastructure Ltd., an agreement to enter into a Letter of Intent to sell the Pioneer Pipeline to NOVA Gas Transmission, a wholly-owned subsidiary of TC Energy. The unit conversions are scheduled to start in 2020, continuing to the end of 2023. In July 2019, TransAlta issued Full Notice to Proceed (“FNTP”) for the first conversion on Sundance unit 6 and this work will commence in the second half of 2020. TransAlta continues to advance conversion plans for its units at Keephills (unit 2 and unit 3) in 2021.

Public Consultation

TransAlta is committed to keeping the public and all stakeholders informed as we move forward with the conversions of our coal-fired generating units to natural gas.

The third project newsletter (August 2019) is available in the Related Information section below. The displays that we shared at our May 2018 open house are also available for review below.