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THUNDER BAY, ONTARIO -----  October 4, 2014  ----- The Common Voice Northwest Energy Task Force wound up two days of meetings in Thunder Bay with the Iain AngusOntario Power Authority (OPA), the Independent Electrical Systems Operator (IESO) and the Ministry of Energy (MOE) and reports significant positive movement related to the future of the Northwest.

Co-Chair Iain Angus (Councillor, City of Thunder Bay) indicated that the OPA announced a number of initiatives for the Northwest including:
•    Commencement of planning processes for Greenstone and the North Shore, Thunder Bay and the Rainy River Area west of Thunder Bay
•    Upgrades to the transmission system serving Red Lake, Ear Falls and Pickle Lake
•    Commencement of planning for an extension of transmission facilities connecting Thunder Bay to Atikokan and on to Dryden in order to ensure that the area North of Dryden has the power it needs

The Ontario Power Authority also confirmed the Energy Task Force’s position that the original estimate for the completion of the East West Tie was unrealistic by announcing that the in service date has now been moved from 2018 to 2020.

“We have always stated that the assumption of a 2018 completion was unrealistic” said Co-Chair Iain Angus “and that we had to ensure that we had generation within the region to meet our needs – prior to 2020.” “The delay will ensure that issues related to equity participation by First Nations and the nature of the stability of the proposed structures  can be concluded” he said. (V)

The Energy Task Force said that the difference on the projected load in the Northwest between the Energy Task Force and the Ontario Power Authority has narrowed significantly to the point where it is now inconsequential.

The organizations were unable to resolve their differences on the future role of the regions two thermal generating stations although both recognized that as the projected loads are materialize there will be need for additional supply to meet those demands.

“It is clear that there is more work to be done to provide the OPA with the economic rationale as to why is it a better choice for the rate payer to upgrade an existing facility (paid for by the Ontario rate payer and tax payer) rather than building a new generator or buying power from another jurisdiction – at the expense of Ontario jobs” said Co-Chair Larry Hebert.

“While we have made significant progress” said Angus, “much more needs to be done to ensure we not only have the power when, where and at the quality we need it, but that we have the capacity to attract the investment this region needs to grow” concluded Angus.

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