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Area Municipal Leaders Intervene at Ontario Energy Board Hearing


January 11, 2008 - On Monday, Jan. 14 the Ontario Energy Board begins a lengthy review of the Ontario Power Authority's (OPA) plans for electrical generation and distribution. A key team of Northwestern Ontario Municipal leaders will intervene with expressions of concern.

The City of Thunder Bay, Northwestern Ontario Municipal Association (NOMA) and the Town of Atikokan have come together to outline the inadequacies of the OPA's Integrated Power System Plan (IPSP) related to the future of Northwestern Ontario.

The OPA plan itself highlights its unreliability and instability, said Mayor Lynn Peterson, City of Thunder Bay. The Plan actually states, `The shut-down of the Thunder Bay generating units will have a major impact on the reliability of electrical services to the City of Thunder Bay and its vicinity. This is not acceptable; we need to convince the Ontario Energy Board that the OPA must be sent back to the drawing board and come up with a plan that meets the current and future needs of the region.

According to Ron Nelson, Executive Vice President of the Northwestern Ontario Municipal Association and Mayor of Township of O'Connor. The plan, which is designed to implement the directive from the Ontario Government to close the coal fired generating stations - two of which are in the Northwest, will significantly de-stabilize the remaining forest industry in the region. Once the coal fired generating stations are closed in 2014 or sooner, there will not be enough base load in the area to ensure a stable provision of electricity. And if we have a drought like we had this spring, the situation will be even worse.

Mayor Dennis Brown, Town of Atikokan, offered that one of the biggest concerns the team has that if the OPA plan is not changed it will be unlikely that the Northwest will have the electrical power it needs to service any new mines impinging economic advancement opportunities. We have an incredible amount of exploration in the Northwest today in fact, there are approximately 230 companies and individuals who are out there doing detailed exploration and many of those sites will become mines, said Brown. It takes long enough as it is to get a mine into production, but if we have to wait to have enough power to make it happen, we know that the mining companies will go elsewhere and the Northwest will lose!

In their initial submission to the Energy Board the three organizations asked that the list of issues that the Board review in examining the OPA's plan should include the following:
1. Does the IPSP outline specific plans for the existing coal fired generating stations to be converted to other forms of fuel?
2. Does the IPSP ensure that no community or region of the province is constricted in its ability to function efficiently, or to attract new industry or economic activity requiring significant amounts of electricity?
3. Does the IPSP enhance the economic viability of the Province of Ontario?
The presentation will address the above noted inadequacies as a basis for the request to develop a separate plan for the Northwest.

The City of Thunder Bay has engaged the legal firm of Weiler, Maloney, Nelson with John Cyr of that firm as lead presenter. NOMA has assembled a technical team, including Atikokan personnel to assist in analysing the OPA's plan and to identify the true needs of the region. They are all members of the NOMA Energy Task Force, Co-Chaired by Larry Hebert (Councillor, City of Thunder Bay) and Iain Angus (Councillor, City of Thunder Bay and NOMA VP).

The Northwestern Ontario Energy Team is scheduled to appear at the OEB on Wednesday, Jan, 16 at 1:30 pm. Mayor Brown, Mayor Krassilowsky (Dryden) and President of NOMA, and John Cyr and Rod Bosch, technical member of the NOMA Energy Task Force will be in attendance.

The Team will release the details of the presentation immediately following the hearing Wednesday.  The OEB hearings begin at 9:30 am Monday, Jan. 14 at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre, South Building. Live audio streaming will be available on-line at http://www.oeb.gov.on.ca/html/en/calendar/eventshow.cfm?id=484

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For more information contact:
Mayor Lynn Peterson, City of Thunder Bay, 807-625-3601
Ron Nelson, Executive Vice President, NOMA, 807-475-9213, cell 628-3501
Mayor Dennis Brown, Town of Atikokan, 807-597-2540, cell 807-597-8050