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Synfuel moves on $230M power plant (8/03)

Groundbreaking to develop a $230-million power plant on Fort William First Nation in Thunder Bay may get underway early 2004.

Groundbreaking to develop a $230-million power plant on Fort William First Nation in Thunder Bay may get underway early 2004.

Receiving a letter from the Ministry of Environment was what Synfuel Technologies needed to proceed in developing a 150-megawatt cogeneration plant in Thunder Bay.

The letter outlined regulations the company needed to follow in constructing the power plant.

“It has always been very vague as to what we were supposed to do,” says Robert Van Patten, president of Synfuel.

“Now they have become very specific and said, ‘you need this criteria and then we will move the process along.’”

Van Patten says progress slowed in the last five months over permit issues.

“We did not want to be permitted as a coal plant. We are very comparable to a gas plant.”

In April, Ernie Eves announced the phasing out coal burning facilities by year 2015 in this year’s throne speech.

Van Patten says he was able to convince the government that the new powerhouse is not a traditional coal-burning facility.

“The testing that we have done convinces us that we are well within or really below all public standards for emissions now.”

The environmental study is the last hurdle Van Patten expects to encounter.

As for the Kyoto Protocol, he says they will be able to adapt their plant equipment to “whatever standards Kyoto finally settles out at.”

With the project back on track he has set out to re-finalize prior agreements and costs in order to move into the construction financing phase.

“I will be going to Calgary to meet with some of the producers in the oil sands to secure our (petroleum coke) feedstock,” Van Patten says.

Van Patten is hoping within the next six months the company “will be in a position to do some ground breaking,” on Fort William First Nation’s soil. But before any construction begins Van Patten wants to have a signed document from the Aboriginal community honouring the Ontario legislation tax agreement.

Workers for the project will be chosen on an 80 per cent Canadian, 20 per cent American ratio.

The cost of the project is between $230 million and $250 million dollars, a slight increase from the approximate figure of $200 million due to construction interest and associated costs.

In four years the plant will have the potential to expand into a 500-megawatt station, servicing 350 megawatts of electricity to Michigan and Illinois States.