OPA and IESO say northwestern Ontario electricity needs will be met
By Anthony Capkun
November 1, 2012 – The Ontario Power Authority (OPA) says the province’s electricity agencies are developing a “comprehensive plan for Northwestern Ontario to ensure continued reliable, cost-effective electricity service for homeowners, businesses and industry in the region”.
The agency says work to date shows that converting the Atikokan Generating Station to biomass, along with the expansion of the East-West tie (a new 400-km transmission line between Thunder Bay and Wawa) will meet the electricity needs for Thunder Bay and the Northwest over the long-term.
In the short-term, OPA and the Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO) say they are developing “cost-effective options to ensure reliable supply is maintained until the East-West tie expansion is complete in 2017/18”. This work in the Northwest is part of OPA and IESO’s collaboration “to ensure both local and province-wide electricity needs are reliability and cost-effectively met as the remaining coal plants are closed by 2014”.
The planned conversion of Thunder Bay Generating Station from coal to gas will be suspended.
“The conversion of Atikokan to biomass is underway, and we believe that investing in transmission expansion is the appropriate next step to deliver a low-cost, reliable supply of electricity to Thunder Bay and the Northwest,” said Colin Andersen, OPA’s CEO. OPA figures the investment in new transmission can save ratepayers up to $400 million by avoiding more expensive generation.
“Our priority is to ensure the ongoing reliability of the electricity system in northwestern Ontario, and we will be working with the OPA to ensure those reliability needs are met,” said Paul Murphy, IESO’s president and CEO.
Investments in transmission infrastructure can also provide a strong foundation for sustainable economic expansion throughout the region by supporting the growth of existing and new businesses, says OPA. It adds the Ontario Energy Board (OEB) is currently overseeing a process to select a transmitter to expand the East-West tie, one of the priority transmission projects in the provincial government’s Long-Term Energy Plan. Construction of the new line is expected to create an estimated 400 jobs in northwestern Ontario.