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Spreading the word for Ontario’s biomass

May 24, 2012 - The Power Worker's Union has been advocating the benefits of making biomass electricity generation a larger part of Ontario's supply, and is holding town hall meetings throughout the months of May and June to spread the word.


May 24, 2012
By Power Worker's Union

May 24, 2012 – For the last several years the Power Workers’ Union has been advocating the benefits of making biomass electricity generation a bigger part of Ontario’s supply mix. Specifically, the PWU has been asking the Government of Ontario to convert Ontario’s coal generating stations to be fuelled by natural gas and biomass.

Studies show that Ontario’s forests and farms can provide extensive supplies of biomass. This includes wood wastes, agricultural residues and purpose grown crops. Biomass is renewable, sustainable and carbon-neutral. Using this fuel in these existing coal-fuelled generating units offers substantial economic and environmental benefits compared to building more wind and solar generation.

Benefits include:

  • Recycling of valuable, provincially-owned generating stations and transmission lines that are already sited, built and paid for;
  • A continuing revenue stream for ratepayers and the continuing mitigation of electricity prices;
  • Renewable, low-carbon electricity that is available when consumers need it;
  • Using carbon-neutral biomass can displace natural gas and means lower greenhouse gas emissions;
  • Using provincially-sourced biomass means less imported natural gas and that’s good for Ontario’s energy security;
  • Continued social and economic benefits for the communities that want to keep these generating stations operating;
  • Support for existing Ontario jobs and small businesses in the forestry, agricultural and transportation sectors;
  • Creation of thousands more full-time jobs;
    More economic benefits stay in Ontario instead of going to big multi-national developers.

Over the last several years, Ontario Power Generation (OPG) has been investigating ways to move to a lower carbon future by converting existing coal stations to biomass or to be co-fuelled with natural gas and biomass. As a result OPG has undertaken extensive research and successful testing at these existing coal station sites and is now seeking approval to convert the Atikokan Generating Station from coal to biomass. The Provincial Government provided funding for research and development for this conversion project. OPG is also seeking final approval to convert one unit at Thunder Bay to natural gas with the potential to convert a second if needed.

While Ontario’s long-term energy plan acknowledges that the Nanticoke and Lambton stations could be converted to use a combination of biomass and natural gas for peak needs, no contracts have been struck. Four generating units at Nanticoke and two at Lambton have already been shut down as part of Ontario’s plan to stop using coal for electricity generation. Four more generators at Nanticoke, two more at Lambton, one at Atikokan and two at Thunder Bay are currently scheduled to be closed by the end of 2014.

Ontario will lose the environmental and economic benefits of this sustainable, carbon-neutral energy resource without immediate decisive action, a comprehensive biomass strategy and a clear investment plan. To this end, the PWU will be undertaking an extensive outreach initiative that is intended to raise public awareness of the benefits of biomass and generate a coalition of interests to achieve them.

During the months of May and June, the Power Workers’ Union will be hosting public meetings in towns and cities in southwestern, eastern and northern Ontario (see below for town hall schedule). Notices advertising the events will also be appearing in local papers.

Date
City
 Location
     
 24-May  Sarnia Clearwater Arena Upper Hall,
1400 Wellington St.
Sarnia, ON N7S 5R5
 29-May  London Royal Canadian Legion,
Victory Branch #317,
311 Oakland Avenue
London, ON N5W 4J5
 31-May  Hamilton  Mohawk College Rom i109
135 Fennel Avenue W,
Hamilton, ON L8N 3T2
 05-Jun  Peterborough  TBA
 07-Jun  Kingston  TBA
 12-Jun  Sault Ste Marie  TBA
 14-Jun  Sudbury  TBA
 19-Jun  Thunder Bay  TBA
 21-Jun  Ottawa  TBA


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