Put a little SPRING in your Step!Take off the boots and take comfort in colour! Running shoes, pumps, sandals. Foot Fashion that feels good! Take Another Look at Stride!click here
If something isn’t done soon, the city could face rolling blackouts in the coming years a local councillor says.
Nearly two years ago the Ministry of Energy announced that the Thunder Bay Generating Station would be switching from coal to natural gas to conform with the province’s long-term energy plan to get Ontario off of coal by the end of 2014.
Since then, Ontario Power Generation has spent $7 million getting the plant ready. But a power purchase agreement dispute between OPG and the Ontario Power Authority has suspended the conversion.
Spokesman Ted Gruetzner said with no contract in place, OPG can’t keep spending money if it doesn’t know whether it will come back.
“We’re still committed to the conversion of the plant and it’s still part of the long-term energy plan,” he said. “We have put the work on hold until we get the contract with the OPA in place to make sure we can recover our costs.”
Gruetzner said he didn’t want to speak publicly about what the dispute is or whether the suspension will delay the project. Negotiations between the two organizations are ongoing however.
“I wouldn’t want to speculate on what that would do to the timeline,” he said.
Coun. Larry Hebert thinks the dispute will certainly mean a delay on an already tight timeline and that delay could mean big problems for the city once the plant can no longer burn coal as of Jan.1, 2015.
“It’s very, very close to the time where we now have to get that construction underway to meet that deadline,” he said.
If the plant isn’t running and the region faces a poor snowfall that winter, hydro dams wouldn’t be running at capacity. That would mean the city would be at the mercy of transmission from elsewhere. If weather or maintenance took those lines down, there wouldn’t be enough power.
“We could be out of luck. So we might have rolling brownouts rolling blackouts whatever,” Hebert said. “We could be in big trouble.”
The at-large councillor said he has no idea what the problem is between OPG and the OPA but the same thing happened to get a purchase agreement with the Atikokan plant, which is moving to biomass. It took a huge lobbying effort from local politicians to get that agreement in place he said.
“There was a really long delay in getting that contract and I don’t know why.”
Not only is the agreement going to delay the conversion but Hebert thinks the proposed route of the Union Gas line that will travel to the plant is going to face opposition from some residents. The line would travel form the Onion Lake area and travel through parts of the city such as Innova Park.
“We figure, at least I think, we’re going to have an objection to it which may take us into a hearing process with the Ontario Energy Board,” he said.
City council will discuss the issue Monday as Hebert looks to send a letter to the Minister of Energy and other provincial agencies to speed the process up. It will also be discussed at the upcoming Association of Municipalities of Ontario conference in Ottawa later this month. City officials will meet with energy minister Chris Bentley on the issue.
“The previous minister of energy created the OPA. They all come under his ministry so he’s their boss,” Hebert said.
Click here to submit a letter to the editor.