Toronto Sun - New gas plant will put Lennox Station out of service

Published on September 27th, 2012 in the Toronto Sun

TORONTO - A gas plant first slated for Oakville will be built right beside a publicly-owned facility in Eastern Ontario which sat idle for much of last year, Tory MPP Randy Hillier says.

The Lennox Generating Station, operated by Ontario Power Generation, is a “beautiful, beautiful” plant which can produce up to 2,100 megawatts (MW) of electricity using either gas or oil, making it uniquely flexible and cost efficient, Hillier said.

But reduced demand for power — the area’s manufacturing sector has shrunk in recent years — means the plant is currently vastly under used, he said.

The Ontario government has announced that a TransCanada gas plant planned for Oakville, cancelled due to opposition from nearby residents, will be built beside the Lennox facility.

The government says there will be $40 million in unrecoverable costs for taxpayers.

Hydro ratepayers will kick in $210 million to pay for new turbines, but the government expects to recoup that expense over time.

Hillier said it would be much cheaper to just flip the switch at Lennox.

“This was some way of trying to save face and make it appear that there was less additional cost than what there really is,” Hillier, the MPP for Lanark-Frontenac-Lennox and Addington, said. “If that 900 MW new plant comes on line, Lennox will not operate. They will have to resize up all the wiring, all the transformers, to be able to use both of them.”

Jennifer Kett, a spokesperson for Energy Minister Chris Bentley, said the extra capacity will be needed after 2017 when the Darlington nuclear station will be refurbished.

“The additional 900 MW provided by the new facility will help to ensure a reliable supply of electricity for the province at all times,” Kett says in an e-mail.

High voltage 500kV transmission facilities are already located close to the site, allowing the delivery of electricity to where needed including the GTA or Ottawa, she says

“Neither facility will be given priority on the grid. They will be dispatched based on the price at which they bid their generation into the market,” Kett says.