Mayors from both Oakville and Haldimand County convened a press conference at Queen's Park, Tuesday, to once again ask the Province to consider Nanticoke as the site for the 900-megawatt gas-fired power plant, currently proposed for Oakville.
Mayor Marie Trainer of Haldimand County said the Nanticoke site is superior to the Oakville one in a number of ways, including its size and distance from residential communities.
The Oakville site, at 1500 Royal Windsor Dr., is less than 400 metres from the nearest residential community, a fact that has many residents concerned about the possible health risks of having a power plant that close.
Increased air pollution and industrial accident top the list of fears.
"We'd like to invite the premier and the minister of the environment and energy to come out to Haldimand County and view our sites. We have two wonderful alternatives for them," said Trainer.
"Our existing OPG (coal-fired generating station) site has 4,500 acres of available land in an industrial park with a 3 kilometre buffer zone. It is slated to be closed in January of 2015 and that results in a loss of 600 local jobs, property taxes and $3 million in economic spin-offs."
Trainer said her community needs these jobs and revenues to survive and hopes the government will help by retrofitting the coal-fired power plant into a gas-fired power plant.
Trainer said if this site was not to the premier's liking, a second 200-acre site is available in Nanticoke.
This site, which she said has been approved in principle for gas-fired power plant use by Haldimand council, is home to a power competitor of the coal-fired generation station, which has also expressed an interest building a gas-fired power plant.
Trainer said the infrastructure, including the transmission lines, is already in place and needs only to be converted over to the new purpose of delivering gas-fired energy.
"We have it all," she said. "We have the space, we have the wires and we want it."
The exact opposite is true of Oakville said Oakville Mayor Rob Burton, who pointed out that under the province's laws a 10-megawatt wind turbine would not be allowed at the 13-acre Oakville site because of the close proximity of homes and schools.
Burton said he is struggling to understand how a 900-megawatt power plant can be okay for the area when a small wind turbine is not.
"I think everybody can see there is something wrong with this," he said. "It's terrific that Mayor Trainer and her council and her community have come forward with two viable alternatives for the power plant."
The situation, however, is not that simple, says the Ontario Power Authority (OPA).
"Nanticoke is not a cost-effective solution to meet southwest GTA electricity need," said Kirstin Jenkins, OPA spokesperson.
"It would require a new gas line to be built (at a cost of) $150 million - and additional transmission lines - (to be built at a cost of) $200 million - adding $350 million to the capital costs of the project."
Jenkins said a power plant located in Nanticoke would run longer and produce less electricity because it would be so far away from the power's final destination. This translates into higher operational costs and more emissions.
"New transmission lines would be required not just to bring electricity from Nanticoke, but also transmission upgrades would be required in built up areas of the GTA," said Jenkins. "There is a plan for Nanticoke conversion at the right time to increase electricity system capacity at some point in the future. It is not the right solution for current electricity needs in the southwest GTA."
Burton said he has gotten the impression the government has already made its mind up as to where it wants to put the plant, but continues to be optimistic the Province can be made aware of the 'mistake they are making.'
Minister of Energy and Infrastructure Brad Duguid neither condemned nor supported the Nanticoke proposition, stating only that the provincial government would listen.
"We're always respectful of municipal leaders whenever they bring us suggestions or ideas. I commend the mayors for bringing forward a constructive suggestion and Mayor Trainer, in particular, for volunteering her community for energy generation use, which is something that is always welcome from our perspective," he said.
"We will continue to work closely with (Oakville MPP) Kevin Flynn who has done a very effective job of ensuring that his community's voice is heard at Queen's Park. We recognize there are some challenges at the moment with the regard to the proponent that we are contracted with for that particular gas plant and as a result we will remain in a listening mode for the foreseeable future."
Click here to read the article on insidehalton.com.