THUNDER BAY – Ontario Politics – The plans to convert the Thunder Bay Generating Station to enhanced bio-mass has drawn political heat in Queen’t Park. Ontario NDP Leader Andrea Horwath is calling on the Liberal government to stop playing politics when it comes to the energy needs of the Northwest. “Liberal promises come and go in Thunder Bay just like the fall leaves. Election season must be getting close if the government is promising for the third time to convert the Thunder Bay Generating Station after cancelling the project twice at a cost of 20 million dollars,” said Horwath.
The NDP leader is referring to the announcement made in Thunder Bay by MPP Bill Mauro and Minister Michael Gravelle on November 15th in Thunder Bay.
Energy Announcement on Thunder Bay Generating Station
The announcement on Friday had Thunder Bay Mayor Keith Hobbs saying he is 75% satisfied. Common Voice Northwest Iain Angus gave the announcement a 50% grade.
Common Voice Northwest Reaction
The Conservative candidate Harold Wilson panned the announcement, claiming that the Ontario Liberals created the crisis so they could fix it and claim victory.
Ontario PC Candidate Reaction
MPP Bill Mauro has challenged opponents of the proposed plan to explain why it won’t work. The MPP questions the politics behind the opposition.
Transcript from Queen’s Park
Ms. Andrea Horwath: My question is to the Premier. Liberal promises come and go in Thunder Bay just like the fall leaves. Election season must be getting close if the government’s promising for the third time to convert the Thunder Bay generating station after cancelling the project twice at a cost of $20 million. Not only does this latest promise smack of opportunism but it is a short-term fix that won’t meet the future energy demands of mining projects in the region. When will this government stop playing politics with the energy needs of the northwest?
Hon. Kathleen O. Wynne: Minister of Energy.
Hon. Bob Chiarelli: We have deliberated on this issue, notwithstanding the harassment from the leader of the third party, and we have consulted with the people of Thunder Bay. We took our time; we were thoughtful. We looked at technical solutions and we provided the best solution that was available for Thunder Bay.
The plant is going to continue operating with advanced biomass. She may be concerned that it’s limited for five years, but we will assess the demand in the area as we proceed. If we have to add another unit and extend the time period, we will.
We have had a very positive response from the stakeholders in the community. The mayor of Thunder Bay has said that he’s 75% happy with this decision, and that’s very good for him.
The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Supplementary?
Ms. Andrea Horwath: The Common Voice Northwest Energy Task Force has called the government’s latest plan to convert the Thunder Bay generating station to advanced biomass “half a loaf.” That’s because running the station at a fraction of its capacity is what’s in play here, and actually running it only for a few days per year doesn’t give the region a sustainable energy plan for the long term.
Instead of focusing on a short-term bid to save some Liberal seats, when will this government finally listen to local voices and get serious about the future energy needs of the northwest?
Hon. Bob Chiarelli: I’ve been informed by two excellent MPPs from Thunder Bay. They have been in touch with their community. They have been in touch with our ministry. They have been working with their community. We have been working with their community. We came up with a responsible decision for Thunder Bay. They will have energy when they need it. They’ll have electricity when they need it, for now and for the future. That commitment is there. We’ve proven it by our actions, and we will continue to respect the needs and the electricity demands in Thunder Bay.