Manitoba bans coal, petroleum coke heating, incentivizes biomass

By Anna Simet | December 30, 2013

Manitoba’s petroleum coke and coal heating ban is set to go into effect with the new year, and the province is encouraging substitution with locally available, green sources of heat, including biomass and geothermal.

To help ease financial burdens associated with fuel conversions, last year the province introduced the Biomass Energy Support Program, which is providing financial assistance to coal users and biomass processors—$400,000 in grants—as they transition towards biobased energy systems and supply chains. 

Key elements of the ban, which is in effect as of Jan. 1, include prohibition of coal and petroleum coke as space-heating fuels, with with a grace period up to July 1, 2017, if an approved conversion plan is filed by June 30, 2014. Those who have not submitted conversion plans by June 30, 2014, or do not implement plans by June 30, 2017, may face a fine.

According to legislative guidelines, conversion plans must identify the new energy source, provide details on new equipment or modification to existing equipment, set out proposed timelines for conversion and provide details on the amount of coal or petroleum coke used in previous years.

Along with the passage of the coal and petreoleum coke heating ban was an emissions tax on coal, which was announced in 2011. According to the Manitoba government, many small coal users have already made the switch to alternatives or have plans to do so, and the ban will reduce emissions by 50,000 to 100,000 metric tons, the equivalent of taking between 10,000 and 20,000 cars off the road.