THUNDER BAY, ONTARIO ----- February 10. 2014 ----A coalition of regional representatives is calling the Ontario Government’s decision to restrict the Thunder Bay Generating Station (TBGS) to operate only eight hours a day, five days a week “unacceptable.”
The coalition – which includes representatives of the City of Thunder Bay and the Northwestern Ontario Municipal Association (NOMA) – is also renewing its request for the government to fully convert the TBGS to natural gas by 2016.
The province recently announced it would partially convert the TBGS from coal to biomass as a five-year pilot project. It was subsequently revealed that 15,000 tonnes of biomass would be allocated to the station each year for five years, and that the use of the fuel was further restricted by the province.
“The Generating Station will only be allowed to run for eight hours a day, five days a week using the 15,000 tonnes,” Mayor Keith Hobbs said. “We do not have cold weather for eight hours a day and only for 5 days at a time. The Generating Station has been operating almost continuously since Jan. 7.”
In addition to the long-term full conversion to natural gas, the coalition is calling on the government to increase the TBGS advanced biomass allotment to 75,000 tonnes up front, with more available as the supply is used.
In a letter published in the Feb. 1 edition of The Chronicle-Journal, Energy Minister Bob Chiarelli said the cost of securing 75,000 tonnes of biomass “would be prohibitively high and come at a significant cost to ratepayers.”
However, NOMA Past President and O’Connor Township Mayor Ron Nelson noted 15,000 tonnes a year for five years adds up to the requested 75,000 tonnes of biomass.
“Buying in bulk ensures a fixed price, which is not subject to fluctuations in the market value of biomass,” Nelson said. “Having the full contract amount at the plant from the beginning means that we will have the fuel we need, when we need it. The cost can be spread over the five years in order to minimize the effect on the ratepayer.”
In his letter, Chiarelli also stated that “no generation facility in the world plans for the incredible volume of surplus fuel being proposed by (the Energy Task Force).”
In response, Nelson pointed out that the government has already ordered Ontario Power Generation to deliver 90,000 tonnes of biomass to the Atikokan Generating Station each year.
Mayor Hobbs and the City’s Inter-Governmental Affairs Committee will be making the issue of biomass allotment for the TBGS a priority during meetings with provincial cabinet members at the upcoming Ontario Good Roads Conference, which takes place Feb. 23-26 in Toronto as will the NOMA delegation.
ENERGY FACT SHEET
Cost of Advanced Biomass
Published reports suggest that the biomass for the Atikokan GS will cost approximately $200
per tonne. Advanced biomass for Thunder Bay GS will cost 15 to 30% higher than the Atikokan
supply although potentially it could cost twice as much as Atikokan (according to OPG).
+15% +30% +200%
15,000 tonnes $3.45 million $3.9 million $6 million
75,000 tonnes $17.25 million $19.5 million $30 million
OPG has not completed negotiations for a supply of advanced biomass therefore the final price
is not known
TBGS Consumption To‐Date
• As of the end of January of this year, the output of the TBGS was 34,128
MW. This would equate to 16,960 tonnes of advance biomass – 1,960
more than will be supplied in a year
• As of Monday, February 10 at 6 AM the total output of the TBGS was
43,790 MW for 2014
o This equates to 21,862 tonnes of advanced biomass – 6,862
tonnes over the annual contract
• In January 2013 the plant ran for 14 days with 276 operating hours with a
total of 21,015 MWH
• In 2013 (January to November 14) the TBGS produced 31,079 MWH
(16,079 over the advanced biomass supply)
• In 2012 Atikokan and Thunder Bay produced a total of 87,888 MWH
• In 2011 Atikokan and Thunder Bay produced a total of 180,043 MWH
• In 2010 Atikokan and Thunder Bay produced a total of 670,920 MWH
The Role of the Atikokan GS
It is likely that Atikokan GS will run before the TBGS once both are up and running. Both will be
needed to provide for the needs of the northwest between now and the completion of the East
West Tie Line expansion. The Energy Task Force is tracking current consumption as it relates to
both Generating Station and will report as appropriate.