Ontario Power Generation “will exceed nitrogen oxide emissions cap”

Ontario Power Generation's (OPG) nitrogen oxides emissions in the year 2000 will exceed its 38 kilotonnes (KT) cap by 5 to 12 KT or 13 to 32%, a report from the Ontario Clean Air Alliance (OCAA) claims.

The report says toxic air emissions, including mercury and six other pollutants, will also rise by 13 to 32%.

In 1991, OPG’s predecessor company, Ontario Hydro, put a 38KT cap on nitrogen oxides emissions from its smokestacks in the year 2000 at the urging of the Ontario Ministry of the Environment.

Ontario Hydro said it would achieve compliance with its 38 KT nitrogen oxides emissions cap by establishing energy efficiency programmes to reduce the demand for electricity by 5,200MW, purchasing 3,100MW of cleaner electricity from independent power producers, and installing pollution control measures at its coal-fired power plants in Nanticoke and Sarnia.

In the mid 1990s, the utility scaled back its energy efficiency programmes (1,300MW achieved) and its purchases of cleaner power (1,700 MW purchased).

OPG now says that it will meet its 38 KT cap by trading nitrogen oxides emission credits obtained through a pilot emissions trading program.

OCAA says this means that OPG’s nitrogen oxides emissions will exceed its cap in 2000. According to OPG, these exceedances will be counterbalanced by reductions that the utility has made in the past, or by reductions made by other companies.

Jack Gibbons, Chair of the OCAA says, “Under OPG’s emissions trading scheme, its excess nitrogen oxides and air toxic emissions will not be fully offset by incremental reductions of these deadly pollutants elsewhere in Ontario in the year 2000. Therefore, if Ontario’s Environment Minister, Tony Clement, permits OPG to break its promise, OPG’s and Ontario’s air pollution will rise in the year 2000”.

Ontario’s Government is currently pressing the US to reduce the emissions from its coal-fired power plants. “In order to protect our health and to maintain credibility with our American neighbours, Environment Minister Tony Clement must not permit Ontario Power Generation to emit more than 38 KT of nitrogen oxides from its smokestacks in the year 2000”, said Sara Bjorkquist, Vice-Chair of the OCAA.

OPG’s senior manager for environmental affairs, Angelo Castellan told edie that the company had undertaken to reduce its nitrogen oxide voluntarily and was not under any legal obligation to do so. “Our plans have been known all along: it’s not as if we’ve changed our tune. OPG is a very progressive organisation – we are not waiting till 2008 to reduce our emissions. We have had some bad press recently, but in my mind we are the good guys.”

Action inspires action. Stay ahead of the curve with sustainability and energy newsletters from edie