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Energie sans Frontieres: Gas & Electricity Converge Along the U.S.-Canadian Border

Fortnightly Magazine - April 1 1998

cost-effective," and is "looking at small-scale renewable energy options," as well.

Building on the RFP, another government recommendation was implemented in January when Ontario Energy, Science and Technology Minister Jim Wilson announced creation of an interim market for replacement power. "This market," Wilson said, "will provide an opportunity for suppliers to compete with Hydro generators¼ in preparation for full competition."

In January and February, Wilson also announced the establishment of the Market Design Committee and the Minister's Electricity Transition Committee. The former will advise the government as it considers legislation to create an independent market operator. It is comprised of industry and end-user representatives who, Wilson remarked, "will help us to iron out the complex technical details to allow competition to begin." Wilson will chair the Transition Committee, whose members are senior industry representatives. "Bringing together officials from a cross-section of key organizations will give me a sounding board on issues," Wilson said. "It will be important for me to have a regular forum for updating stakeholders¼ for hearing their views."

One question is whether the move to competition and the lay-up of several nuclear generating stations will lead to an increase in natural gas as a generating fuel in the region.

Terry Young, Ontario Hydro's communications director thinks that question is a bit premature. Yet Ontario Energy Minister Jim Wilson, in a speech earlier this year, seemed to have gas-fired plants in mind when he noted, "Newer, smaller and more efficient power plants (em many of them using renewable energy sources (em will also help us meet our energy related environmental targets."

Whether or not Ontarians are moving toward natural gas, others are eyeing possibilities in the region. In February, for example, the energy marketing arm of Michigan-based CMS Energy Corp. acquired a 50-percent interest in the Ontario-based natural gas marketing firm PremStar Energy Canada Ltd. That move, said CMS Marketing Service and Trading COO William W. Schivley, "firmly establishes" the U.S.-based company "in the top tier of Canada's energy service providers" and will help "grow our customer base in North America."

Meanwhile, the restructuring continues. On March 2, Ron Osborne, appointed president and CEO of Bell Canada in 1997, took over as president and CEO of Ontario Hydro.

Chairman William A. Farlinger, who served as interim president and CEO from August 1997 through February 1998, said of the appointment: "Ontario Hydro is entering a critical point in its history."

Bruce W. Radford, who researched gas pipelines, is editor of Public Utilities Fortnightly. Lori M. Rodgers, associate editor, reported on restructuring at Ontario Hydro.

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