New Brunswick Power to Close Coal-Fired Plant and Strip Mine
FREDERICTON, New Brunswick, September 29, 2009 (ENS) - New Brunswick Power announced today that the company will close its coal-fired Grand Lake generating station when its operating license expires in June 2010. During the early years of the Great Depression, New Brunswick Power built the Grand Lake facility, the Atlantic province's first thermal generating station.

As the remaining unit of the power plant is at the end of its operating life, the necessary environmental upgrades would not be economically feasible, the company has decided. Grand Lake units 1-3 were retired in 1993.

Opened in 1931, the Grand Lake Generating Station burns bituminous coal from nearby deposits on the shores of Grand Lake near the towns of Minto and Chipman. A NB Power subsidiary, NB Coal is the only mining company left in the Minto area and performs strip mining.

NB Power's Grand Lake Generating Station (Photo courtesy NB Power)

Because NB Coal's only customer is the Grand Lake Generating Station, the strip mine will close this December.

"These have been strong, reliable assets that have come to the end of their life," David Hay, president and chief executive officer of NB Power, said today. "NB Power has been a part of the community for more than 75 years, and this decision was very carefully considered."

"The Grand Lake Generating Station is an aging facility, and it is facing many environmental and economic challenges. Due to the nature of coal mined in Minto, pending environmental regulations make it uneconomical to continue operation of NB Coal Ltd., and the Grand Lake generating station beyond its current operating licence."

"Since 2000, the Grand Lake generating station has been the only customer of NB Coal Ltd. We will, naturally, work with the community during this transition," Hay said.

The coal beds in New Brunswick are about 310 million years old and were formed in coal swamps associated with the ancient rivers that occupied the region.

The first reported shipment of coal from Canada left Grand Lake, New Brunswick for Boston in 1639, according to the New Brunswick Department of Natural Resources and Energy.

But today, international, national and provincial environmental regulatory frameworks have led to an increased focus on the reduction of greenhouse gases and air pollutants, making coal-fired power plants obsolete.

On Monday, Environment Minister Rick Miles showed the province's new direction as he issued "The New Brunswick Climate Change Action Plan Progress Report - Building on Success."

"I am pleased to release this report detailing what has been accomplished during the second year of the New Brunswick Climate Change Action Plan," Miles said. "So far, 90 percent of the actions highlighted in the plan were started or had been completed, which is good news for New Brunswickers. This progress report is proof that our plan is working.

The provincial government launched the five-year plan in June 2007. Miles says that as a result of New Brunswick-led initiatives in the plan, greenhouse gas emissions will be reduced in the province by 5.5 megatonnes annually in 2012.

With the addition of federal initiatives, the plan will result in a reduction of New Brunswick's greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels in 2012. Miles said the achievement of these reductions will position New Brunswick to realize further reductions of 10 percent below 1990 levels by 2020.

The update reports progress in several areas, including energy efficiency and renewable energy.

In addition, the Department of Environment has launched a website to track and report greenhouse gas emission reductions. The website includes information on measuring carbon footprints, tracking provincial emissions, tracking New Brunswick Climate Action Fund projects and reporting on progress of the Climate Change Action Plan.

"This website is a useful tool for New Brunswickers who wish to learn more about their own carbon footprint and find ways to lessen the affect of their daily lives on the environment," said Miles. "I encourage every New Brunswicker to take action on climate change and to help us achieve results so together we can achieve an environmentally sustainable and self-sufficient province."

Copyright Environment News Service, ENS, 2009. All rights reserved.