U.S. company seeks contract for power plant


An American company says it will move ahead with plans to build a 1,200-megawatt gas-fired generating plant in Haldimand County provided it can get a contract to sell its power to the province.

Land has been acquired, plans drawn up, and municipal permits approved, said Braith Kelly, spokesperson for Competitive Power Ventures Inc. of Maryland.

"The only thing necessary at this point is a contract," said Kelly.
"We'd like to go as soon as possible."

Approval must come from the Ontario Power Authority. It will base its decision on the Ontario government's upcoming long-term energy plan, which will forecast the province's electricity needs over the next 20 years.

The plan is expected to be released before Christmas.

Kelly said the company will make its case before then in a presentation to the OPA.

"Frankly, it's going to be needed in our view," he said.

The plant would hire "hundreds" of people in "well-paying jobs," he noted. Hundreds more, Kelly added, would be hired during construction, which could take more than two years to complete.

Last week, the province cancelled plans for a gas-fired plant in Oakville, citing a drop in demand for electricity and the addition of 8,000 MW of generation in Ontario during the past seven years from both traditional and renewable sources.

The CPV proposal has gained support in Haldimand because it would replace the jobs that will be lost if the province follows through on its plan to shut the coal-fired plant in Nanticoke, which employs about 500 people, by the end of 2014.

Haldimand Mayor Marie Trainer helped the mayors of Mississauga and Oakville lobby the province against the Oakville project. It was opposed by residents in those cities who complained the plant was too close to housing.

Trainer wanted the province instead to consider Haldimand as a site for a gas plant.

She said the American project could in fact help keep the county's coal plant open. If an extra-wide gas pipeline was extended to the coal plant, it too could produce cleaner emissions, she said.

Ben Chin, spokesperson for the OPA, said the fate of the American project and Nanticoke's coal plant, which could be switched over to biomass, gas, or a combination of the two, is not yet clear.

"We'll wait for the minister's long-term energy plan," Chin said.

But he noted that demand for electricity has dropped in Ontario from a peak of 27,000 MW a few years ago to 24,000 MW, while numerous private companies are also ready to put forward plans for new generation plants.

Braith said his company can replace the electricity Nanticoke produces but warned that "it takes years to construct these plants" and "you can't be caught short" of power.

"The closure of that facility is imminent. If you count the months needed for construction to replace that, we need to go now."

CPV's plant would consist of two 600 MW "blocks," Braith said.

The privately-held company has built gas-fired as well as wind and solar projects across North America.