Keith Brooks, Programs Director, Environmental Defence
Toronto | Traditional territories of the Mississaugas of the Credit, the Anishinaabeg, the Haudenosaunee, and the Huron-Wendat – We applaud the members of Thorold City Council for voting unanimously against this unnecessary and highly polluting project. Ontario doesn’t need more gas plants. We are encouraged to see communities like Thorold recognize this and stand up for their residents. In order to ensure a safe and stable future, we need more clean energy, not more fossil power. Respected bodies like the International Energy Agency have been clear – there is no room for new fossil fuel infrastructure if we want to hold warming to 1.5 degrees.
Along with their contribution to larger climate change impacts, gas plants also cause local air pollution – mainly nitrogen oxides and particulate matter. In voting against this proposal, Thorold has both helped with the global project of decarbonization and taken an important step to protect air quality in Thorold and the broader Niagara region.
Additionally, Thorold’s vote against this project will also save Ontarians hundreds of millions of dollars. Based on other gas plant contracts recently inked by the Independent Energy System Operator (IESO), the gas plant proposed for Thorold could have cost over $700 million over the term of the contract. This, despite the project developer – Northland Power – saying that they anticipate the plant would produce “little energy” and act as a backup option. It would have been a giveaway to fossil fuel project developers – not so different from other giveaways this province has handed out to other developers in recent months.
Thorold has set an example that other municipalities should follow if prospective gas-plant developers come calling.
- In October of 2022, the IESO recommended Ontario procure up to 1500 MW of new gas-fired power generation. The Ministry of Energy directed the IESO to proceed with the procurement.
- Multiple studies have concluded that Ontario does not need more gas to meet growing electricity demand.
- Northland Power had proposed to build a 198 MW gas-fired power plant in Thorold, Ontario, in Niagara Region, which they intended to bid into the IESO’s upcoming LT1 procurement process.
- At the request of the Ministry of Energy, the IESO stipulated that project proponents would need a municipal resolution of support in order to secure a contract. The IESO was also directed to structure contracts to ensure power plants would still be paid even if forced to shut down due forthcoming federal Clean Electricity Regulations.
- Thorold City Council’s vote against the power plant proposal effectively blocks Northland’s proposal from going forward.
- In a recent capacity procurement, energy storage projects ended up coming in at lower costs than new gas plants.
- If the IESO is successful at procuring the 1500 MW of gas that it was seeking, this could cost rate payers over $4 billion, despite the fact that these plants are supposed to rarely be used and will have to be shut down before their contracts expires due to incoming federal Clean Electricity Regulations.
ABOUT ENVIRONMENTAL DEFENCE (environmentaldefence.ca): Environmental Defence is a leading Canadian environmental advocacy organization that works with government, industry and individuals to defend clean water, a safe climate and healthy communities.
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