Iain Angus says the province will at least listen to regional concerns about biomass supply levels for the soon-to-be-converted Thunder Bay Generating Station.
Initially told Ontario Power Generation would only supply 15,000 tonnes of material annually over a five-year period, members of the Common Voice Northwest Energy Task Force were adamant in their demand the province supply and maintain 75,000 tonnes of advanced biomass from the start.
Angus, the task force co-chair, said after members of the Northwestern Ontario Municipal Association met Tuesday with Premier Kathleen Wynne and other provincial ministers at the Ontario Good Roads Conference, they’ve been promised a technical meeting with OPG officials so that both sides can present their arguments.
"Every time you have some dialogue, you're advancing the concept," said Angus Wednesday afternoon.
"(Energy) Minister (Bob) Chiarelli still believes strongly his advisors are correct in terms of the numbers from the Thunder Bay Generating Station and the Atikokan Generating Station. We still think they're wrong," said Angus, adding the minister agreed to the meeting so both sides can work through the numbers and try to find some agreement.
Angus said it's not about proving the OPG wrong, but about ensuring the right system is in place to meet the energy needs of the Northwest.
The task force once again asked that all 75,000 tonnes of biomass supply be on site when the deadline to use coal passes at year’s end.
Also, Angus said they recognize it's not just about the two generating stations but also about maintaining hydraulic power as well as the east-west tie.
"It's very complicated so we want to make sure those officials really understand the needs of the Northwest," he said.
The minister also said how 60 jobs had been maintained at the Thunder Bay Generating Station, but Angus said that's after 50 people were given layoff notices in January.
The plant currently has 110 employees; 50 were given layoff notices that will take effect early next year.
The job cuts will mean a $4.5 million payroll loss to the city and local businesses, said Angus, noting it will have a strong impact on the community.
NOMA also asked for the construction of a new transmission line that would connect Dryden to Ear Falls and Red Lake and a line from the East-West Tie Line to Greenstone via the Little JackFish generation station.
They also asked for the construction of an east-west road linking Pickle Lake to the Ring of Fire.