THUNDER BAY – Those flashing lights atop the stack at the Thunder Bay Generating Station will keep flashing. Today in Thunder Bay Ontario’s Energy Minister along with a delegation of local politicians announced that the Thunder Bay Generating Station will stop burning coal and convert to natural gas – a move that supports jobs in the community and takes the province another step closer to eliminating all coal-fired generation by the end of 2014. This will make Northern Ontario the first region of the province with existing coal plants to become coal-free.
“This decision, along with the conversion of the Atikokan Generating Station to biomass, is great news for my riding of Thunder Bay–Atikokan, for Ontario’s economy and for the environment. In addition to protecting jobs at the generating station, the conversion to natural gas will create 100 construction jobs,” stated Bill Mauro the MPP for Thunder Bay Atikokan.
Mauro’s efforts earlier this fall assured that the Atikokan Generating Station would remain open as it is being converted from coal to biomass.
Thunder Bay Mayor Lynn Peterson shares, “This plant means a lot to Thunder Bay and I’m thrilled to see it will continue to play an important role in providing power to keep the city vibrant and providing jobs and economic benefits to local residents.”
Ontario’s Energy Minister Brad Duguid says, “This is an important milestone in Ontario’s electricity history, and in the history of the northern Ontario economy, as we move to a coal-free province. By replacing dirty coal with cleaner renewable sources of power, we are bringing clean energy jobs to Ontario and giving future generations cleaner air to breathe.”
The conversion of two coal-burning units at Ontario Power Generation’s Thunder Bay Plant will create 100 construction jobs and help protect jobs at the plant. It will be the first plant in Northern Ontario’s history to be converted to natural gas.
“This is great news for Thunder Bay. I am extremely pleased that it aligns with the proposed Growth Plan for Northern Ontario and continued employment in the North’s energy sector,” commented an ever enthused Michael Gravelle the Minister for Northern Development, Mines and Forestry.
The project, which is outlined in Ontario’s updated Long-Term Energy plan, to be released later today, is expected to begin in 2011 and will be completed before the end of 2014. The converted plant is expected to generate up to 150 million kilowatt-hours of electricity, enough to power 15,000 homes each year. In addition, emissions from the plant will be cut in half.