McGuinty Finance Minister out to lunch on coal to gas conversion

For immediate release:
July 20, 2012

Simcoe – Haldimand-Norfolk MPP Toby Barrett wonders if McGuinty cabinet ministers have a clue of provincial energy plans after Finance Minister Dwight Duncan provided confusing and completely inaccurate information on the conversion of coal fueled electricity plants to natural gas.

During testimony to the Standing Committee on Estimates Thursday, Duncan said to his knowledge, it was impossible to convert an existing coal-fired power plant at Lambton to gas generation.

“I would think given the coal smear campaign that Mr. Duncan and his caucus colleagues have waged against myself and the Opposition, he would at least have a hint of what his government is planning to replace the coal-fueled energy we have long relied upon,” stated Barrett. “I would recommend the Minister check out the OPG website where there is a ton of information on government’s energy plans including conversion of coal to natural gas.”

Duncan made his erroneous comments during questioning about the $190 million-plus relocation of the Mississauga gas-fired power plant to Lambton County, where a brand new plant will be built at an estimated cost of $300 million.

“As a former Minister of Energy, he should know it’s possible to convert coal plants to gas. And as the current Finance Minister, you’d think he’d want to make sure his government was pursuing the least expensive option for relocating the Mississauga plant,” said Opposition Energy Critic Vic Fedeli. “When I toured the Lambton plant, officials explained to me how easy it was going to be to convert the coal plant to natural gas.”

A release from the Power Workers Union today confirms that is indeed possible, and asserts it would be a much cheaper option.

“Two of the OPG Lambton generating units, capable of producing 950 MW can be converted from coal to natural gas for less than the $190 million penalty being paid just to relocated the Mississauga plant,” Power Workers Union President Don MacKinnon said in the release.

“For quite a while now, people in my area have been told government is pursuing coal to gas conversion possibilities at Nanticoke,” Barrett concluded. “For McGuinty’s Finanace Minister to deny the possibility of conversion speaks to the fact that these guys are just making it up as they go along.”

For more information, please contact MPP Toby Barrett at: (416) 325-8404,
(519) 428-0446 or 1-800-903-8629