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Home: Canadian Construction News: TransCanada Building $1.2 Billion Gas-Fired Power Plant in Ontario

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TransCanada Building $1.2 Billion Gas-Fired Power Plant in Ontario

Written by; Markus MacIntyre / TCCN Staff Writer
Added on: Sun Oct 04 2009


TransCanada Corp (listed as TRP on the Toronto Stock Exchange) recently won a contract to construct a natural gas-fired power plant to the west of Toronto, another indication of Calgary-based TransCanada Corporation's expansion in the power industry in the province.

The 20-year contract is worth $1.2 billion, and TransCanada will build, own, and operate the plant, which will provide 900 megawatts. It should be up and producing electricity for this important North American market by the beginning of 2014.

Because the province plans to close coal-fired plants, it is seeking to replace the power they generated with clean technologies like gas, wind, and hydro electricity generation.

Traditional coal-fired power plants have turned into a political as well as environmental political football. They emit much more pollution than natural gas-fired power plants, but once accounted for almost 25% of Ontario's power generation.

When calculated on a "per megawatt-hour" basis, gas-fired plants produce 60% less carbon dioxide than a coal-fired plant producing the same amount of power, according to Alan Pourbaix, TransCanads's vice-president of corporate development.

Residents near the new plant, however, are not happy about it. Canada's Social Democratic Party, NDP, is against the proposed plant because of possible negative health effects from the plant's emissions. NDP's Peter Tabuns said Wednesday that politicians and medical professionals are against the plant for the same reasons. Tabuns also said that the Ontario Power Authority overestimated energy demand for Ontario and makes large-scale projects such as the proposed gas-fired plant a high priority for economic reasons.

On the other side of the issue, George Smitherman, Ontario Minister for Energy and Infrastructure, gave a statement emphasizing Ontario's work to do away with coal-fired power generation. He also said that gas-powered plants are reliable and allow the province to cut emission of pollutants even in the area where the Oakville plant will be constructed. He promised the Ontario legislature that his department will work "very, very hard" to provide the cleanest energy to the most people.

TransCanada, aware of the opposition to the plant, will hold open meetings where community members can ask questions and state their concerns, according to Pourbaix, who said that companies like TransCanada "have to be very sensitive to the concerns of the community." He reiterated that the new gas-fired plant will remove as much pollution as possible with today's technology.

Construction of the plant will result in 600 jobs for just over a two year period. When the plant is completed, it will create 25 or so permanent jobs. TransCanada is Canada's largest shipper of natural gas from the western part of Canada to eastern Canada and the US midwest states.

TransCanada is of such a size that it isn't cost effective for them to build smaller power plants anymore, according to FirstEnergy Capital Analyst Steven Paget.

The new plant will be TransCanada's third power plant in the greater Toronto area after the 550 megawatt natural gas-fired Portlands energy Centre inside Toronto and the 683 megawatt gas-fired plant in the northwestern suburb of Halton Hills.

TransCanada is taking on other large-scale projects like the $12 billion Keystone oil pipeline designed to carry crude oil from Alberta to Texas. TransCanada is Ontario's largest private sector power generator. On last Wednesday's news, shares in TransCanada's stock rose by half a percent.


Copyright: 2009

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