NEWS RELEASE: OPA Decision Puts Mining Growth at Risk [Northwestern Ontario]

Northwestern Ontario Municipal Association (NOMA)

For immediate release: Friday, Novemver 2, 2012

THUNDER BAY – The Ontario Power Generation (OPG) announcement that they are suspending further work on the Thunder Bay Generating Station gas conversion is being met with anger and frustration by the Northwestern Ontario Municipal Association (NOMA). The announcement is a result of the Ontario Power Authority (OPA) informing OPG that it “needs to explore other options for energy supply in the northwest” despite personal assurances by the Minister as recently as August that the conversion would proceed.

For many years, NOMA and its partners have made energy a top priority in our meetings with Government. We have been calling on the OPA to undertake proper energy planning in the Northwest including repeated requests to meet with Northwestern Ontario leaders and experts to discuss the comprehensive energy needs of the region. These requests have fallen on deaf ears and this decision is an unfortunate example of the consequence.

“How dare the OPA ignore specific government direction by causing further delays to the Thunder Bay Generating Station conversion!” said NOMA President Ron Nelson. “These actions jeopardize the conversion and also put at risk billions of dollars of investment in the mining sector by raising concerns that the required power may not be there when it is needed.”

“Why is OPA determined to turn off the lights in our region?” questioned Nelson. “Why is the Ontario Government letting this happen?”

The Thunder Bay Generating Station provides 300 mw of energy for the Northwest that is vital to economic development. Analysis by the Common Voice Northwest Energy Taskforce indicates that the proposed (but not yet approved) East-West tie line will not provide the reliable power capacity that is needed to support the development of the multitude of mines that are currently in the planning stages for the region. This action by the OPG will add an additional $14 million to the final cost of the conversion project.

“The Thunder Bay Generating Station is part of the mix of electricity generation that is needed for now and the future of this region,” continues Nelson. “We call on the Ontario Government to immediately fund the oversizing of the Union Gas line as per the OPG plan, and to immediately order the OPA to follow the Minister’s directive and conclude negotiations with OPG on the conversion. We also ask that the Minister instruct the OPA to meet with NOMA, the Common Voice Northwest Energy Task Force, and City of Thunder Bay to discuss regional energy needs” concludes Nelson.

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