The Power Workers Union is proposing another option for the future of the Thunder Bay power plant. It says Ontario Power Generation should look at converting the Thunder Bay Generating Station to burn forest biomass.
"We see it as a viable option, in addition to using gas from a gas conversion," said union president Don MacKinnon. "It brings the forestry products folks into the picture."
"We've spent a lot of time lobbying politicians and other folks to try and get our point of view across on the benefits of conversion of the Thunder Bay plant," he added.
The coal-fired plant was supposed to be converted to gas, but Ontario Power Generation stopped work earlier this month pending a review of the region’s electricity needs by the Ontario Power Authority. The future of the plant and some 130 jobs remains in doubt. Area delegates met with the Energy Minister Chris Bentley on Tuesday to discuss the plant’s future.
The OPG station in Atikokan is already being converted to burn biomass and is expected to be ready in 2014.
But Bill Mauro, the Member of Provincial Parliament whose riding includes both communities, doubts that both plants could make the switch.
Mauro questions whether there would be enough wood pellets to fuel two plants in the northwest.
"You need to be careful about how much wood-based residue that you're using. If there's enough to fuel the plant," he says. "I'm not interested in getting into too much of a position where we are cutting down whole trees to create energy."
The province is scheduled to cease all coal-fired power generation by 2014.