TORONTO, Nov. 18, 2013 /CNW/ - The Ontario Energy Minister's recent
announcement to convert the Thunder Bay Generating Station (GS) to
advanced biomass is a step in the right direction and will deliver on
plans to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions says the Power Workers'
For some time, the PWU has promoted the environmental and economic
benefits of using domestically sourced, renewable, carbon-neutral
biomass as a fuel in Ontario's former coal stations. Countries like
Denmark and Sweden have been using biomass fuel to help reduce GHG
emissions, create jobs and improve energy security.
"Europe's electricity sector has been benefitting from the use of
carbon-neutral biomass, much of it imported from Canada, for decades,
said Don MacKinnon, PWU President. "Ontario's vast farm and forest
sourced biomass—wood wastes, agricultural residues and purpose grown
crops—provides our province with a unique energy advantage," he added.
Converting Ontario's coal stations to use 100 per cent biomass or using
it along with natural gas delivers many benefits for Ontarians. Unlike
intermittent wind and solar generation, biomass generated electricity
can be relied upon at times of peak demand and when the wind isn't
blowing or the sun isn't shining. The cost of conversion is a much
cheaper option than building new natural gas plants and recycles
existing provincially-owned generation and transmission assets while
helping to reduce Ontario's dependence on imported fossil fuels.
MacKinnon noted that the conversion plans for Atikokan GS and Thunder
Bay GS from coal to biomass is great news for those supportive host
communities too. It helps sustain existing economic benefits and jobs
while creating new employment and business opportunities including wood
pellet production plants to supply the stations.
Ontario Power Generation (OPG) has received a five-year contract for the
Thunder Bay Generating Station to generate electricity using this world
leading technology. Modifications to the plant will begin in 2014 with
operations expected to commence in 2015.
The PWU also recognizes OPG's research and development work that has
helped verify and support the Minister's decision. In 2009, OPG
developed a Biomass/Repowering Plan for the Atikokan, Thunder Bay,
Lambton and Nanticoke stations. OPG undertook cost/benefit analyses
and commissioned independent studies to demonstrate the sustainability
and economic and GHG benefits of this program. One study estimated
that the repowering of these stations would create 3,500 jobs and
contribute $600 million annually to Ontario's economy. OPG also
completed successful test operations at these stations. The successful
first-of-its-kind 100 per cent advanced biomass test was completed at
the Thunder Bay facility in September of this year.
Other stakeholders from the province's agricultural and forestry sectors
have also worked diligently to demonstrate the economic and
environmental benefits of biomass. As a result of these collective
efforts, the potential benefits of converting some of the coal units at
Nanticoke and Lambton were recognized in the province's 2010 Long-Term
"Existing analyses clearly show that Ontario can realize even more
benefits by converting units at the Nanticoke and Lambton stations to
biomass and natural gas, concludes MacKinnon. "And that's why we will
continue advocate for these conversions."
The Power Workers' Union (PWU) represents the majority of employees in
Ontario's electricity production and delivery sector. The PWU has
promoted and contributed to the development of sound electricity policy
and planning for more than 60 years to ensure a robust and sustainable
electricity system and clean, affordable electricity for Ontario
SOURCE: Power Workers' Union
For further information:
John Sprackett, Staff Officer, President's Office
244 Eglinton Ave. E., Toronto ON M4P 1K2