At midnight on May 11, Cochrane Power ceased generating electricity for Ontario’s power grid, said plant owner Northland Power in a May 21 statement.
The 42-MW plant for 25 years has been burning wood waste from local lumber mills and natural gas to produce electricity. The facility’s power purchase agreement expired on May 11. Late last year, Cochrane Power was granted an extension to that date from the agreement’s original end date in January 2015, to allow sufficient time for it and the Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO) to negotiate a new long-term agreement. However, concurrent with that extension, Ontario’s Minister of Energy directed the IESO to suspend all negotiations until the IESO had developed a strategy for power generators such as Cochrane Power across the province. The strategy is expected to be delivered in September 2015.
“We have been seeking a further extension that would allow us to negotiate a new agreement,” said John Brace, CEO of Northland Power. “We will continue our efforts, and will keep our people on staff as long as we can; but without an agreement, we cannot operate. Eventually we will have to completely shutter the plant.”
“We are very grateful for the outpouring of support from the community and local industry,” added Gary Huizing, the Cochrane-based Regional Manager of Northland Power. “They’re not giving up and neither are we.”
The 42-MW Cochrane Power facility uses wood chips to generate electricity, all sourced from the waste material of local mills such as Tembec‘s Cochrane facility. Cochrane Power also supplies heat to the Tim Horton Event Centre and is the single largest water customer for the Town of Cochrane.
Northland is an independent power producer founded in 1987, and publicly traded since 1997. The company owns or has a net economic interest in 1,345 MW of operating generating capacity and 972 MW (682 MW net to Northland) of generating capacity under construction. Northland’s common shares, Series 1 and Series 3 preferred shares and Series B and Series C convertible debentures trade on the Toronto Stock Exchange under the symbols NPI, NPI.PR.A, NPI.PR.C, NPI.DB.B, and NPI.DB.C, respectively.