Thunder Bay's Intergovernmental Affairs Committee will hold a special meeting Friday to discuss the future of the Thunder Bay Generating Station.

Ontario Power Generation announced Thursday it will stop the plant's conversion to natural gas. Since the province is phasing out coal power in two years, the viability of the station is now in question.


The conversion of Thunder Bay's Mission Island power plant from coal power to natural gas has been halted. (Ontario Power Generation)

The Ontario Power Authority said it may not need the electricity from the OPG station in Thunder Bay because it's considering a power supply plan that would be $400 million cheaper. If that leaves the northwest with enough electricity, the conversion will be cancelled for good, Energy Minister Chris Bentley said.     

"I've essentially said, show me. Let's see the plans, let's test them because they have to be things that work," he said.

"If they're solid plans, we can act on them. If they're not, we're back to conversion."

OPA predicts plant will be mothballed

The OPA insists it can get power cheaper through transmission than it can through generation at the Thunder Bay plant.

A vice president with the OPA said the organization has calculated the northwest will receive the energy it needs from the Atikokan Generating station, hydro dams, a new power plant at Resolute Forest Products, and new transmission lines.

Amir Shalaby said the energy delivery plan will use three transmission lines, plus the new Wawa-Thunder Bay line to import power. The plan includes bringing in electricity from Minnesota and Manitoba.

Shalaby predicted the Thunder Bay plant would shut down.

"Typically, a generating plant — once it's de-commissioned — sits in a state of what's called mothball state," he said.

The news has prompted the Friday meeting for the city’s Intergovernmental Affairs Committee, which will discuss the future of the Mission Island generating station. The plant employs 130 workers.

Mayor Keith Hobbs said he received the news from Energy Minister Chris Bentley.

"It's not only important to Thunder Bay, but it's important to the region," he said.

"First of all, we garner $1 million in taxes from that company — not to mention the numerous jobs."

Bentley said Ontario is committed to phasing out coal plants by 2014.