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Industry News

Ontario to Defer Closure of Coal Plants

LCG, June 16, 2005--The Ontario Ministry of Energy announced yesterday a new schedule to shut down its fleet of coal plants. In order to reduce emissions and improve public health, the government had previously committed to close nearly 7,600 MW of coal-fired, generating capacity by the end of 2007. The new schedule extends the closure of the largest plant until early 2009.

There are five coal plants in the Ontario fleet. The Lakeview Generating Station, with a capacity of 1,140 MW, was recently shutdown in April after related transmission upgrade projects were completed to improve grid capabilities. By the end of 2007, three more coal-fired stations - the 310-MW Thunder Bay, 215-MW Atikokan, and 1,975-MW Lambton Generating Stations - are scheduled to close. The closure of these plants is dependent upon completing transmission upgrades and the construction of a number of new, gas-fired generating stations. The largest coal plant, the 3,938-MW Nanticoke Generating Station, is scheduled to have generating units closed during 2008, with the final unit closed in early 2009.

To compensate for the loss of generating capacity, the Ontario government is aggressively pursuing the development of new generating capacity from non-coal sources, together with demand-response projects. The Ontario Energy Minister announced in March that a tentative agreement has been reached with Bruce Power to restart Units 1 and 2 at the Bruce A nuclear generating station in Kincardine. The agreement was approved in principle by the boards of directors of the major partners of Bruce Power: Cameco Corporation, Transcanada Corporation, and BPC Generation Infrastructure Trust. The agreement is now under review by the Ontario government. The two nuclear units commenced operations in 1977 and were shut down in 1995 and 1997 by the prior owner, Ontario Power Generation (OPG).

Last month, two new power projects, the Greenfield North and Greenfield South Power Projects, were selected by the government of Ontario in response to its Request for Proposal (RFP) initiated in June 2004. These two projects, with a combined capacity of 570 MW, are located in Mississauga. Both projects must now complete an environmental assessment and are subject to local planning processes.

The Ontario Ministry of Energy selected four other proposals in April as part of the 2004 RFP process. With the exception of a small demand-response project, the projects selected in April are fueled by natural gas and include a 1,005-MW, combined-cycle plant to be located near Sarnia, Ontario; the 570-MW St. Clair Power Project, also located near Sarnia; and a 90-MW, co-generation facility to be constructed by the Greater Toronto Airport Authority. Thus the combined generating capacity of the five, gas-fired projects selected in April and May totals 2,235 MW.

In July 2004,the government gave approval to OPG to proceed with a nuclear project, budgeted at $900 million, to refurbish and restart Unit 1 at the Pickering A Generating Station located east of Toronto. That decision was driven in part by the estimate that the 515 MW nuclear unit could begin producing power in just 15 months - more rapidly than other alternatives - to support the government's planned closure of the coal fleet. The Unit 1 refurbishment follows prior challenges with Pickering efurbishment efforts. The first of four Pickering A reactors returned to service in September 2003, more than two years late and at a cost nearly three times that approved by the Board of Directors of OPG.

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