TORONTO, Nov. 1, 2012 /CNW/ - Ontario's electricity agencies are developing a comprehensive plan for Northwestern Ontario to ensure continued reliable, cost-effective electricity service for homeowners, businesses and industry in the region.
Work to date has found that converting the Atikokan Generating Station to biomass along with the expansion of the East-West tie - a new 400 km transmission line between Thunder Bay and Wawa - will meet the electricity needs for Thunder Bay and the Northwest over the long-term.
In the short-term, the Ontario Power Authority (OPA) and the Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO) are developing cost-effective options to ensure reliable supply is maintained until the East-West tie expansion is complete in 2017/18. This work in the Northwest is part of the OPA and IESO's ongoing collaboration to ensure both local and province-wide electricity needs are reliability and cost-effectively met as the remaining coal plants are closed by 2014.
While the detailed analysis by the OPA and the IESO is underway, the planned conversion of Thunder Bay Generating Station from coal to gas will be suspended.
"The conversion of Atikokan to biomass is underway and we believe that investing in transmission expansion is the appropriate next step to deliver a low cost, reliable supply of electricity to Thunder Bay and the Northwest," said Colin Andersen, OPA's Chief Executive Officer. OPA estimates the investment in new transmission can save ratepayers up to $400 million by avoiding more expensive generation.
"Our priority is to ensure the ongoing reliability of the electricity system in northwestern Ontario and we will be working with the OPA to ensure those reliability needs are met," said Paul Murphy, President and CEO of the IESO.
Investments in transmission infrastructure can also provide a strong foundation for sustainable economic expansion throughout the region by supporting the growth of existing and new businesses. The Ontario Energy Board is currently overseeing a process to select a transmitter to expand the East-West tie, one of the priority transmission projects in the provincial government's Long-Term Energy Plan. Construction of the new line is expected to create an estimated 400 jobs in Northwestern Ontario.
The OPA is responsible for the long-term planning of Ontario's electricity system, leading conservation efforts and contracting clean sources of electricity. The IESO operates and maintains the reliability of the provincial electricity grid, manages the wholesale electricity market and provides forecasts of current and short-term electricity needs.
SOURCE: Ontario Power Authority
For further information:
Kristin Jenkins - 416-969-6007