Province seeks better deal with northern gas-fired power plants
Gas plants in North Bay and Kapuskasing shut down earlier this month
Ontario's energy minister says two northern Ontario gas plants have been shuttered because his government is seeking a better deal for electricity consumers.
Atlantic Power shut down its gas-fired plants in North Bay and Kapuskasing earlier this month. The company did not respond to requests for an interview.
Sudbury MPP and Energy Minister Glenn Thibeault says the company's 20-year contract to sell power to the grid has expired.
Thibeault says the contracts for these plants required them to run "around the clock creating excess greenhouse gas emissions and they were operating at uncompetitive prices."
He says he's asked the Independent Electricity System Operator to negotiate new agreement that would see the province pay a lower price for that power.
"They don't wish to enter the market against other electricity generators. Ratepayers will see a net benefit from this change and that's the most important thing for me that we continue to find ways to save ratepayers money," says Thibeault.
These plants, Atlantic Power's Tunis generating station and the three gas-fired plants run by Northland Power in Cochrane, Kirkland Lake and Iroquois Falls would all be paying more for natural gas under the province's new cap and trade system that came into effect Jan. 1.
Northland Power also declined an interview.
Thibeault says that while that is an additional cost these companies would have to pay, he doesn't believe the plant shut downs have anything to do with cap and trade.
But he says the province isn't looking to phase natural gas out of its electricity system and says those plants are important to meet spikes in power demand, such as during the summer time.
But he says a new agreement with Quebec to buy power at a cheaper rate, might mean those gas plants sit idle more often.
"If we don't have to fire up at least two terrawatts of power by using Quebec, we'll take the clean and we'll take the cheaper power, 100 times out of 100 times," says Thibeault.