Ontario to Shut Down 2,000 Megawatts of Valuable Electricity Generation

    Power Workers' Union expresses concern

    TORONTO, Sept. 3 /CNW/ - Today the Ontario government announced they will
close two of the eight 500 megawatt coal fuelled units at Ontario Power
Generation's (OPG) Nanticoke Generating Station on Lake Erie and two of the
four 500 megawatt coal units at OPG's Lambton Generating Station near Sarnia.
    "These plants have been providing Ontario with reliable, safe and
affordable electricity for decades," said Don MacKinnon, President of the
Power Workers' Union (PWU). "Ontario has decided to close these plants in
favour of building more natural gas plants and increasing imports of
electricity from coal plants in the U.S. We are very concerned that closing
Ontario's coal stations will negatively impact energy security, reliability
and the price of electricity as well as the price of natural gas for home
    The Power Workers' Union has been working with industry stakeholders to
create a "Made in Ontario" alternative using carbon neutral biomass pellets
made from wood and agricultural waste to fuel and/or co-fuel these valuable
generators. Biomass is the most widely used source of renewable electricity
generation in Europe for many reasons.
    Biomass is carbon neutral, making it a strategic electricity generation
fuel of choice in pursuing carbon emission reductions for climate change
initiatives. Biomass fuelled electricity production, unlike wind and solar, is
available on demand.
    For countries like Canada, with huge biomass resources, there are even
more benefits. Production of fuel from biomass can strengthen Ontario's
troubled forest and agricultural industries. First Nations could be valued
participants in the supply chain.
    According to Tom Adams, industry watchdog, "To maintain reliability in
the event of a rapid drop in wind, grid operators need generators able to
quickly take up the slack. Coal power emits greenhouse gases at a much lower
rate rather than Ontario's new mid-efficiency gas-fired generating units while
providing essential reliability support for wind generation during high wind
periods. Ontario's coal power stations are good at riding along at low power,
often at 20% of full power, ready to quickly ramp up to full power when
needed. However, our new gas plants have much higher minimum production
requirements, typically at about 60% of full power. To match the upward
generation flexibility of one large coal generator, about twice as much
gas-fired generation capacity is required and four times as much carbon
dioxide is emitted from the gas generators standing by to support wind power
compared with coal generators doing the same job. For a 500 MW coal generator
at 20% power or 100 MW, the CO2 emission rate is typically about 100 t/hr
while providing 400 MW of up ramp potential. To get the same 400 MW of up ramp
potential, about 1000 MW of gas combined-cycle units are required, putting out
600 MW and emitting at a rate of approximately 400 t/hr."
    MacKinnon added, "At this time we do not know the extent of the impact on
the hundreds of employees at the two locations. It will take some time to work
out all the details with OPG before we can fully assess the effect on our
members and the economies of the host communities. We find this frustrating,
to say the least. We need better solutions that will strengthen Ontario's
energy security and economy while truly addressing climate change. Closing
these valuable facilities to become more reliant on more expensive natural gas
and imported coal power from the U.S. is not the answer."

For further information:

For further information: John Sprackett, Office of the President, Power
Workers' Union, spracket@pwu.ca, (416) 322-4787

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