Power will stay on this summer: Duncan

Regional News
Jun 06, 2007 10:36 PM
By: Serena Willoughby

Despite assurances of long-term solutions, Klees not convinced.

Energy Minister Dwight Duncan was in the hot seat last week over the province's failure to secure more power for York Region.

Oak Ridges Conservative MPP Frank Klees believes Mr. Duncan is "playing politics" with the region's energy needs by refusing to direct the Ontario Power Authority to begin the process of building a generation facility in the region's north end.

In 2005, the Ontario Power Authority recommended construction of a "peaking plant," which provides power during high-use periods, such as during heat waves.

The process, which includes several rounds of public consultation, hasn't begun and York businesses sent a letter last month to the energy minister urging him to get the authority moving.

Mr. Klees accused Mr. Duncan of telling several sources he wouldn't issue such a directive before October's provincial election.

"I would ask that the minister put the interests of our communities ahead of whatever political or partisan reasons he may have ... so we can be assured of stability of power supply," he said in the Legislature.

Although Mr. Klees would not disclose the source of his information about delaying a directive, he said he was given the information by three sources who could not reveal their identities for fear of reprisals.

"These are people who are involved in the process," he said.

He agrees with a coalition of York businesses who fear brownouts and blackouts will happen without more power. "The issue is the dithering of this government on this issue," he said.

Mr. Duncan did not respond to a York Region Media Group request for comment, but he did respond to Mr. Klees last Thursday.

"The fact is, after eight years of neglect, the people of York can be assured power will stay on this summer and next summer. There are long-term solutions that need to be addressed," he said.

Mr. Duncan cancelled an appearance in Markham Tuesday at the ground-breaking for the Markham District Energy Plant expansion.

His office claims he had a scheduling conflict and would reschedule for later this month.

A natural gas-fired plant offers a great deal of flexibility and is "so clean, it doesn't take up much real estate", said Scott Stevens, director of business development for Northland Power, a company that builds peaking plants such as the one recommended for York.

Such a facility would require between five and 10 acres, he estimated.

Although Northland has investigated possibilities for a facility in York, there is little else it can do at this stage, he said.

"We have sites (in York) and we've been working on our sites, but we don't know without the RFP (request for proposal)," Mr. Stevens said.

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