Cleaning Up Ontario's Coal Stations Would Make Sense for Consumers and the Environment

    TORONTO, April 26 /CNW/ - Minister Duncan's rejection of investing $1.6
billion in clean coal technology at the province's coal stations places the
province's electricity reliability at risk, it will result in higher
electricity prices for Ontario consumers and will result in unnecessary
exposure to more pollution, says Ontario's Power Worker's Union (PWU).
    "The Ontario government continues to ignore the facts and the advice of
its own energy advisors," says Don MacKinnon, President of the Power Workers'
Union. "Their decision is based on an optimistic replacement generation plan,
omits critical financial information, and overlooks substantial environmental
improvements that can be made quickly and affordably. The people of Ontario
are unnecessarily being put at risk."
    During the 2003 election campaign, the current government promised to
close Ontario's coal stations by 2007. Their replacement plan called for
increased reliance on renewable energy, especially wind power, conservation
and demand management and more, higher cost natural gas-fired generation.
    On two occasions, overly optimistic load forecasts and delayed in-service
dates for replacement generation caused by opposition to new gas plants and
wind farms forced the government to reconsider its coal station closure
timeline. The anticipated closure timeline of 2012 to 2014, according to the
Ontario Power Authority (OPA), is when Ontario's electricity system begins
facing its greatest challenge. Without these coal stations, Ontario will not
have the "insurance policy" that both the OPA and the Independent Electricity
System Operator recommended in earlier advice to the government.
    The higher cost of natural gas compared to coal and transmission
investments needed for replacement generation is not factored into Minister
Duncan's decision. Ontario consumers will pay higher electricity prices for
both. An analysis performed by Global Energy estimates the minimum cost for
transmission enhancements required to accommodate coal retirement at $3.1
billion, and the market impact of a January 2015 retirement timeline at $5.6
    Also ignored are the substantial greenhouse gas reductions that can be
achieved with modest, additional investments in turbine upgrades and mixing
biomass with the coal, as the Europeans have demonstrated. Biomass research is
already being conducted at Ontario's coal stations. Test burns of surplus
grain screenings were successfully completed at its fossil plants in the 1980s
and last year, pelletized grain screenings were conducted at Thunder Bay.
Milling by-products continue to be co-fired at the Nanticoke generating
station and plans call for test burns of corn cobs. The Ontario government is
also supporting a bio-energy research centre at the Atikokan generating
station. An estimated 500,000 tonnes of agricultural waste by-products are
available annually in southern Ontario.
    "According to the OPA's assessment, adding four new scrubbers and two
selective catalytic reduction units at Nanticoke can achieve an 86% reduction
in mercury, an 80% reduction in nitrogen oxides and an 86% reduction in
sulphur dioxide. When recovered across all energy served between 2010 and 2014
this means an average additional requirement of $1.9 per megawatt hour
compared to a much higher cost of replacement power, says Mr. MacKinnon. "If
this, as the OPA notes, replaces dirtier US generation, how can this be a poor
    We can improve our environment and the security of our electricity supply
and rates by installing these proven technologies at the province's coal
generating stations now.
    The Power Workers' Union believes that Ontarians require an energy supply
that derives electricity from a number of sources, including clean coal,
hydroelectric and nuclear, along with other economical renewable options. The
PWU's Better Energy Plan - also includes a review of
the province's natural gas strategy, investment in green power and the
promotion of energy efficiency.
    This approach will guarantee the people of Ontario, and the businesses
that operate here, an affordable, clean and secure supply of energy all year
round. Copies of the PWU submission to the OPA can also be found at the above
noted website.
    The Power Workers' Union is the largest electricity union in Ontario,
representing employees in electricity generation, transmission, distribution,
regulations, and research and development.

For further information:

For further information: John Sprackett at the Power Workers' Union,
Tel. (416) 322-4787

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