Common Voice – Not So Fast on ‘Coal Free’ Claims

Premier Kathleen Wynne Speaks after by election results
Premier Kathleen Wynne

Premier Kathleen Wynne Speaks after by election results
Premier Kathleen Wynne

THUNDER BAY – Politics – Common Voice is questioning claims from the Ontario Government on the ‘Coal Free’ status of power in Ontario.

According to the Common Voice Northwest Energy Task Force, the Ontario Government’s celebratory announcement that the last piece of coal was burned in the Thunder Bay Generating Station fails to mention that the Province will continue to import power from jurisdictions that continue to convert coal into electricity.

According to a statement made by the Ontario Power Authority’s Vice President of Power System Planning during a March 25, 2014 meeting between the Energy Task Force and a number of Ontario Energy Agencies, ‘any imports will likely include coal produced power’.

Iain Angus - Common Voice Northwest
Iain Angus – Common Voice Northwest

Task Force Co-Chair Iain Angus pointed out the hypocrisy of the position of the Ontario Government. “They can’t have it both ways; they can’t shout from the rooftops that they are coal free when they turn around and buy power from USA jurisdictions that use high sulphur coal as their supply” he observed.

Can’t Have it Both Ways

“At the same time, the Government wants people to believe that they are in favour of job creation in the Northwest, yet they turn around and ship 45 well paid union jobs out of the Northwest and down to southern Ontario. Once again they are trying to have it both ways” Angus said.

The Energy Task Force continues its work on convincing the Ontario Government on the need to ensure that the electrical generation and transmission system in the Northwest will meet the economic development opportunities facing it through mining, forestry and pipeline conversion. “Our goal continues to having the Thunder Bay Generating Station converted to natural gas well in time for when the significant increase in demand will appear” said the Co-Chair of the Energy Task Force.

A delegation from the Energy Task Force met with officials from OPA, OPG, IESO, Hydro One and the Ministry of Energy on March 25 in Toronto. There were 6 from the ETF and 24 from the Government side, including the Deputy Minister of Energy along with Minister Gravelle.

“The meeting can be summed up with the statement that the “Government” has not moved on its position regarding the quantity of advanced biomass to be ordered for the Thunder Bay Generating Station.  They stated that the plant ran in January and February of this year in order to use up the existing stockpile of coal and the power was not used in the Northwest.

Common Voice states, “They had no answer when it was pointed out that the plant stopped running the day it got warm in Thunder Bay”.

The OPA/IESO and the Energy Task Force (Energy Task Force delegation : Iain Angus, Larry Hebert, Rod Bosch, Rob Mace, John Mason, Jim Vezina)  now have nearly identical projections about the current and future load (until 2020) in the Northwest.  “There continues to be disagreement over how that demand can be met.  The OPA continues to talk about options without offering any firm sources of supply” said Angus.

There will be three follow up meetings:

1)    A meeting facilitated by the Energy Task Force between Hydro One Networks and a mining company in the Red Lake area to find a solution to a mine that is due to open in the spring of 2015 but does not have the power they need

2)    A meeting to examine in detail the way in which Ontario will ensure the Northwest has the power it needs when it needs it and where it needs it

3)    A meeting to examine in detail the manner in which the two thermal generating stations will participate in meeting the needs of the Northwest and will include a discussion on the appropriateness of the fuel supplies for the two stations.

The Energy Task Force, through its partners (NOMA, NOACC, City of Thunder Bay etc.) will continue to press the Government of Ontario and its energy agencies to ensure that the Northwest has the power it needs to facilitate the growth that is long overdue.