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Converting coal to advanced biomass good for Ontario, says PWU

November 18, 2013 | By Anthony Capkun

November 18, 2013 – The Power Workers’ Union (PWU) says the idea to convert the Thunder Bay Generating Station (GS) to advanced biomass is a step in the right direction.

PWU says it has promoted the environmental and economic benefits of using domestically sourced, renewable, carbon-neutral biomass as a fuel in Ontario’s former coal stations for some time.

“Europe’s electricity sector has been benefitting from the use of carbon-neutral biomass, much of it imported from Canada, for decades,” said Don MacKinnon, PWU president. “Ontario’s vast farm and forest sourced biomass—wood wastes, agricultural residues and purpose grown crops—provides our province with a unique energy advantage.”

The cost of converting to biomass is a much cheaper option than building new natural gas plants, insists PWU, and recycles existing provincially owned generation and transmission assets while helping to reduce Ontario’s dependence on imported fossil fuels.


MacKinnon noted the conversion plans for Atikokan GS and Thunder Bay GS from coal to biomass is great news for those supportive host communities. It helps sustain existing economic benefits and jobs while creating new employment and business opportunities, including wood pellet production plants to supply the stations.

Ontario Power Generation (OPG) has received a five-year contract for the Thunder Bay GS to generate electricity. Modifications to the plant will begin in 2014 with operations expected to commence in 2015.

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