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“Feel-good” energy plan does little for northwest

Mayors call government’s long-range power plan election fodder
Atikokan Generating Station
Atikokan Generating Station (Ontario Power Generation photo)

A northwestern Ontario municipal group isn't impressed by the Ontario government’s 2017 Long-Term Energy Plan (LTEP).

“Ontario’s much anticipated Long-Term Energy Plan turns out to be not worth waiting for as it offers nothing new for the northwest,” said Wendy Landry, president of the Northwestern Ontario Municipal Association (NOMA) and the mayor of Shuniah, near Thunder Bay.

“All it does is regurgitate plans that are already in place but fails to outline the future for the Atikokan and Thunder Bay Generating Stations and does not speak to the outstanding need for transmission upgrades to Greenstone and the First Nation communities in that area," she said in an Oct. 27 NOMA news release.

Queen’s Park released the 2017 Long-Term Energy Plan (LTEP) on Oct. 26 with an emphasis placed on power affordability, innovation and more choice for consumers.

Some of the plan’s initiatives include changing time-of-use pricing in select communities, making better use of power generated in Ontario, working with local utilities to allow for charging up electric vehicles at home and making electricity bills more understandable for consumers.

Following on the heels of the 2013 LTEP, the government calls this latest version a “road map that sets out the direction for Ontario’s energy future.”

NOMA said the document references the long-planned east-west tie and other transmission line upgrades across the region but falls short of addressing the future use of two public-owned generating stations.

“It is incredible that there is no mention to renewing the fuel contracts for the Atikokan and Thunder Bay Generation Stations even though the output will be required to meet the needs of the Northwest, and that (Energy) Minister (Glenn) Thibeault himself has publicly indicated that Atikokan and Thunder Bay generating stations will play a different role but a key role, going forward,” said Landry.

“The minister is on the record of telling the Atikokan Progress (newspaper) that the 20-year long-term plan will be out soon, and the Atikokan Generating Station will be there.

“This 20-year plan is more of an election document with a lot of feel-good material, and a lot of ‘we will study’ with very little actual plans that are implemental, particularly here in the northwest.”

“Once again, on the energy file, the Government of Ontario has failed the North which is unfortunate given we believed that this minister really understood the realities of the energy needs for the region”