Tbnewswatch Local News
2014-05-16 at 1:33PM

Politics and power

By Jamie Smith, tbnewswatch.com

THUNDER BAY -- Bill Mauro would love the opportunity to debate the Liberal government's track record on the region's energy needs.

With two coal plants in Thunder Bay-Atikokan, incumbent and Liberal candidate Bill Mauro said nobody else was talking about the loss of jobs and tax base to the riding when all parties agreed to get the province off of coal in 2003.

Now there's $200 million worth of work, the plants are open and converted to biomass and the region's energy needs are secure.

"An absolute home run, I look forward to debating it," he said.

But Progressive Conservative candidate Harold Wilson points out that twice the Thunder Bay Generating Station was supposed to be converted to natural gas and twice the proposal was canceled.

Officials in the region have had to fight with the Ontario Power Authority many times on Northwestern Ontario's energy concerns.

"This government has been very good at generating bureaucracy but not generating electricity," he said.

A five-year plan for the plant isn't a long-term commitment, which is needed for the region's future if it wants to attract business. Wilson said it's a band-aid.

"If you're trying for long-term investment you can't do long-term investment on five years," Wilson said.

Converting the plant could still be an option Wilson said.

But Mauro said right now the region's energy needs are secure, along with a $2 billion plan to upgrade transmission in the North. 

The Green Party's John Northey believes the region needs to look elsewhere to places like Manitoba for energy where its in more supply and cheaper.

"As the Ring of Fire grows even if they built the gas plant we'd still be short on power," he said.

In an interview with Thunder Bay Television, NDP candidate Mary Kozorys said she's concerned that the generating station doesn't have enough biomass to meet the region's power demand. She called the conversion another failed Liberal promise. 

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