Canadian Biomass Magazine

Cochrane Power officially shuts down operations

May 13, 2015
By Andrew Snook

May 13, 2015 - Cochrane Power officially stopped generating electricity for Ontario's power grid after failing to obtain any further extensions, or come to a new agreement, with the Ontario Electricity Finance Corporation (OEFC).

Sarah Charuk, director of communications for Northland Power, confirmed that the plant officially stopped operating as of midnight on May 11, due to the termination of its current agreement with the OEFC. However, this does not mean Northland Power has given up.

“We are continuing to do everything we can to secure a new agreement or further extension,” said Charuk.

Northland was granted an extension to May 11 from the agreement’s original end date in January 2015, so Cochrane Power and the Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO) would have additional time to negotiate a new long-term agreement. 

However, the Minister of Energy directed the IESO to suspend all negotiations until the IESO had developed a strategy for power generators such as Cochrane Power across the province. The Minister directed the IESO to deliver that strategy in June, and then recently amended that to September, which is well past the May 11 expiry of Cochrane Power’s agreement, according to a recent statement from Northland Power.

“We have been working very hard to ensure a future for this facility, but without an agreement to sell our electricity to the grid, we are forced to stop generating it,” said John Brace, CEO of Northland Power. “It is difficult to understand why the facility has not been granted a further extension until the IESO’s strategy is delivered and negotiations can be concluded. 

“Cochrane Power supports the province’s Long-Term Energy Plan; it is existing infrastructure, it is combined heat and power, and it uses biomass, a renewable resource, for power generation. The facility provides an environmentally sound way to use wood waste from local industry rather than diverting it to landfill. All this without adversely impacting the electricity ratepayer in Ontario.” 

Cochrane Power uses wood chips to generate electricity, which are sourced from the waste material of local mills, such as Tembec’s Cochrane facility and the recently opened Rockshield Engineered Wood Products factory. 

For the last 25 years, the power generation facility has provided millions of dollars a year in direct impact to the local economy, and supports hundreds of well-paying local jobs, according to Northland Power. 

Cochrane Power supplied heat to the Tim Horton Event Centre and was the single largest water customer for the Town of Cochrane.

“This facility is critically important to North Eastern Ontario and its forestry and agricultural industries,” said Brace. “We will continue to do everything we can, and are prepared to work with government to find a solution so that we can continue to help them achieve their goal of fostering a prosperous, sustainable Northern economy.”

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