TORONTO, July 20, 2012 /CNW/ - Today the Power Workers' Union (PWU) warned that any further delay in the low-cost, low-risk conversion of Ontario's coal generating stations from coal to natural gas and biomass will cost much more than the cancelled Mississauga gas generating station.
On July 10, Ontario's Minister of Energy announced that the cancelled 280 MW natural gas plant planned for Mississauga would be relocated to property on Ontario Power Generation's (OPG) Lambton Generating Station site near Sarnia. OPG will be forced to give up this valuable property to the private developer.
Ontario will pay out $190 million to resolve all outstanding legal agreements and cover engineering; permitting and construction costs incurred to date by privately owned Greenfield South Power in Mississauga. The payout will not cover any costs related to building the new Greenfield South station - those costs along with a tidy profit will be paid by electricity consumers.
At the same time, the publicly owned, coal fuelled OPG Lambton Generating Station, located on the St. Clair River approximately 26 kilometres south of Sarnia, is scheduled to be shut down by the end of 2014 as part of the government's coal station closure policy. Two of the station's four, 475 megawatt (MW) generators have already been shutdown. The remaining two units currently provide electricity needed during periods of peak power demand.
"Two of the OPG Lambton generating units, capable of producing 950 MW can be converted from coal to natural gas for less than the $190 million penalty being paid just to relocate the Mississauga plant," stated Don MacKinnon, President of the Power Workers' Union.
Additionally, the PWU is concerned about the provincial government's plans for the future of OPG's Nanticoke Generating Station - also scheduled to close in 2014. The province has yet to make an announcement about the compensation it will pay for its earlier cancellation of the $1.2 billion Oakville natural gas plant.
"Converting Ontario's valuable coal generating stations is billions of dollars less expensive and less risky than building new natural gas generating stations. These are assets, owned by the people of Ontario, that are already paid for," said MacKinnon.
MacKinnon noted that when the remaining two Lambton units and four more at Nanticoke on Lake Erie are shutdown, Ontarians will lose a revenue source and 2,830 MW of low-cost generation that has historically helped keep electricity prices among the lowest in North America.
The PWU has been advocating the conversion of the Lambton and Nanticoke stations to be co-fuelled with natural gas and domestically sourced, renewable, carbon-neutral biomass. This would mean a much lower cost investment; provide a major boost to Ontario's forestry and agricultural sectors; decrease the province's dependence upon imported natural gas; and lower greenhouse gas emissions.
"It's time to commit to convert these coal stations as part of a comprehensive strategy to recreate a reliable, affordable, clean and secure electricity supply mix in Ontario to help make our businesses and industries competitive. Ontarians deserve a full, transparent accounting of the costs and benefits of the alternatives," concluded MacKinnon.
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:
John Sprackett, Power Workers' Union, (416) 322-4787, [email protected]