New mining projects, delays to East-West Tie construction prompt questions to Ford government about regional power plan
With a half-dozen new mines expected to go into production over the next two years, a delegation from northwestern Ontario wants face time with Energy Minister Greg Rickford to make its case to keep the Thunder Bay Generating Station operational.
The recent discovery of corrosion on a boiler at the power plant and the prospect of a $5 million repair bill, six months of downtime, at a point when the facility’s fuel contract with the province expires in 2020, Ontario’s Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO) decided to jettison the plant.
“We still think the Thunder Bay Generating Station will be needed in the not-too-distant future,” said Iain Angus, a Thunder Bay city councillor and co-chair of Common Voice Northwest’s Energy Task Force, a regional advocacy group.
The plant, which was converted from burning coal to imported specialty wood pellets in 2014, had barely been producing power. It was positioned as a peaking plant, a kind of emergency backup generator to the provincial grid.
According to Ontario Power Generation, the plant runs only for 2.5 days a year, but Angus questions where the power will come with a slate of new mines moving into production this year and into 2026?
The City of Thunder Bay and the Northwestern Ontario Municipal Association have requested a meeting with Rickford at the Association of Municipalities of Ontario’s annual conference in Ottawa in August.