Southwest GTA replacement power plant backgrounder

Wed, 09/30/2009

Southwest GTA Replacement Power Plant Backgrounder

I) Need for New Electricity Generation in Southwest GTA

  • A new natural gas generation plant is essential in the southwest GTA. It is critical for supporting the elimination of coal-fired generation by 2014 and to meet the electricity needs of a region whose peak load has grown more than twice as quickly as the provincial average. It will also enable the introduction of new renewable sources of energy: wind, biomass and solar which are not available all the time.

  • The closing of the Lakeview coal plant in 2005 removed 1,150 megawatts of supply from the grid at a time when demand for power in Oakville and Mississauga continued to grow. The shutdown part of Ontario’s plan to entirely eliminate coal-fired power by the end of 2014  has created a situation in the Greater Toronto Area that has seen electricity supplies diminished in the face of robust growth.

  • In 1985, the region was self-sufficient in electricity, but by 2005, just 25 percent of what the GTA used was generated in the local community. This imbalance is the result of the closing of Lakeview and also the strong demand for electricity in the region because of continued growth. For example, the population of the City of Mississauga, which was 702,300 in 2006, is projected to grow to 738,000 by 2011 and to 812,000 by 2031. The lack of local generation in the SWGTA increases strain on an aging transmission system. Transformer stations in the region (which step down power from high-voltage transmission lines to the voltage needed for residences and businesses) are forecast to exceed their capacity by 2015.

  • Aggressive conservation measures are also helping to close the demand-supply gap. The Ontario Power Authority is working to achieve 500 MW of conservation in western GTA by 2014. Local distribution companies offer a variety of programs to homeowners and businesses to support conservation. Since 2006, the Ontario Power Authority and local distribution companies have reduced peak demand by about 150 MW in the west GTA. That’s the equivalent to the power used by 1.4 million 100-watt light bulbs. But these measures cannot offset the need for new generation. If a plant were located outside the southwest GTA, the local transmission infrastructure upgrades costs would increase by about $200 million and require intrusions into highly urbanized centres.

II) Selection Process

  • A request for qualifications (RFQ) identified four companies with the financial resources, technical expertise and track record necessary to build the new plant. Proponents accepted a requirement to meet all applicable zoning rules and environmental regulations before building the project.

  • Bids from these companies were evaluated by an independent chaired panel made up of representatives from the Power Authority, the Independent Electricity System Operator and the Ontario Energy Board. The panel’s activities were overseen by a Fairness Advisor.

III) Clean Air Measures

  • Following a review requested by Peel Public Health, Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Arlene King, has concluded that there is no evidence that the addition of a natural gas-fired generation facility in the region will have a negative impact on the health of southwest GTA residents. The Ontario Power Authority has mandated that the new power plant meet emissions standards that are 70 percent stricter than what the Ontario Ministry of the Environment requires. In addition to the more stringent emissions standards, the Ontario Power Authority will lead and/or participate in a number of initiatives announced today by the Ontario government that are aimed at improving air quality in the southwest GTA.

  • The plan includes a variety of programs that target emission reductions and reduced energy consumption. One of the innovative programs being unveiled is designed to build on a strong record of emissions reductions in an energy-intensive industry. Holcim Canada, the Ontario Power Authority and the Ontario Ministry of Energy and Infrastructure are creating a working group of technical experts to explore energy efficiency and emissions reduction at Holcim’s cement plant in southwest Mississauga. Within the Ontario cement industry, Holcim’s plant has the lowest emissions intensity for nitrous oxides (NOx) and has the lowest emissions of any cement plant in Canada with respect to carbon dioxide (CO2) intensity.

  • The objective of the Holcim task force includes examining the feasibility of various options related to demand-side management, co-generation and fuel mix optimization, all with a goal of increasing efficiency and improving the plant’s overall emissions profile.

  • Among its peers, the Mississauga plant ranks number one in overall energy efficiency, according to a May, 2008, benchmarking study of the Canadian cement industry. As a global company, Holcim was named ”Leader of the Industry” on the Dow Jones Sustainability Index from 2005 to 2008 and ‘Best-In-Class’ for the Building Materials Sector in 2009. Voluntarily Holcim has achieved the following emissions reductions which are beyond what the Ontario Ministry of Environment requires.
    • NOx concentration 11.3% reduction 2004 - 2008
    • SO2 concentration 12.7% reduction 2004 - 2008
    • CO2 intensity 15.7% reduction 2000 - 2008

Follow these links  to the government of Ontario’s news release on additional emissions mitigation in the southwest GTA.

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The Power Authority is responsible for ensuring a reliable, sustainable supply of electricity for Ontario. Its four key areas of focus are: planning the power system for the long term; leading and co-ordinating conservation initiatives across the province; ensuring development of needed generation resources and supporting the continued evolution of the electricity sector.

Ontario Power Authority Contact:

Ben Chin, VP Communications