TORONTO, Jan. 10, 2013 /CNW/ - Today's announcement by the Premier, advancing the schedule for closing the Lambton and Nanticoke Generating Stations, is full of political rhetoric and ignores the significant environmental and economic costs all Ontarians will have to pay for this decision says the Power Workers' Union (PWU).
The Ontario government has consistently positioned the closure of the province's coal stations as North America's largest climate change initiative. They crow about the thousands of green jobs and stable pricing regime that will result from the private sector investment in the "clean" energy generation that is replacing these stations.
"Ontario is spending billions on wind turbines and solar panels supported by natural gas generation to the benefit of big multi-national corporations. Ontario will not likely meet its greenhouse gas (GHG) targets because of increased dependence on natural gas generation, green job numbers remain elusive and our electricity prices are on the way to becoming among the highest in North America," stated Don MacKinnon, PWU President.
Natural gas generation is being used to replace coal generation for peak needs but it is also planned to provide backup for intermittent wind and solar generation, and they require backup power more than 70 percent of the time. As the Environment Commissioner's 2011 Greenhouse Gas Progress Report indicated, even with the coal station closures, Ontario's shift to natural gas generation compromises the province's ability to meet its 2014 and 2020 GHG targets.
As well, the shift to private natural gas generation has increased Ontario's dependency on imported natural gas, including environmentally questionable U.S. shale gas. This exposes Ontarians to higher electricity and home heating costs during high demand periods for natural gas. It also means higher GHG emissions.
MacKinnon noted that no final price tag for these investments in wind, solar and natural gas generation is known. These include the costs of: new enabling transmission and distribution lines; smart control technologies to manage the ever changing output from intermittent and backup supply sources; and new operating procedures. Additionally, hundreds of millions of dollars in compensation is being paid to private developers for two cancelled, and now relocated, natural gas plants.
"This government remains blind to the valuable role the publically-owned Lambton, Nanticoke and Thunder Bay stations can play in providing cleaner electricity while continuing to generate significant economic benefits for all Ontarians", said MacKinnon.
When the remaining two Lambton units near Sarnia and four more at Nanticoke on Lake Erie are shut down, Ontarians will lose a revenue source and 2,830 MW of low-cost generation that has historically helped keep electricity prices in this province among the lowest on the continent.
The PWU has been advocating the conversion of the three stations to be used for peak supply, co-fuelled with natural gas and domestically sourced renewable, carbon neutral biomass. This can be done at a substantially lower cost than building new natural gas plants while reducing GHG emissions and Ontario's dependency on imported natural gas. At the same time, recycling Ontario's coal stations would sustain good jobs in the site communities and create thousands of new jobs in Ontario's forestry, agriculture and transportation sectors.
"Instead of more smoke and mirrors, it is time for a firm government commitment to re-invest in the generation assets owned by the people of Ontario. This is the best way to recreate a reliable, affordable, clean and secure electricity supply that consumers can afford and that will help keep Ontario's businesses and industries competitive," 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.
SOURCE: Power Workers' Union
For further information:
John Sprackett, Power Workers' Union, (416) 322-4787, [email protected]