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OPA signs 20 year power generation deal with TransAlta

The Ontario Power Authority has signed a 20-year deal with an independent power plant that provides electricity to the provincial grid.

The TransAlta plant located at the Ottawa Hospital's General campus also supplies steam and hot and cold water services to not only the hospital, but CHEO, the Ottawa Health Sciences Centre, the National Defence Medical Centre and the Rideau Veterans Health Centre.

The 74 mega-watt plant runs on an LM6000 Sprint gas turbine - the same engine used to power Boeing 747 aircrafts. It is one of several non-utility generators in Ontario that make up 6.5 per cent of the province's electricity demand.

Energy Minister Bob Chiarelli said it helps make their system more reliable.

"Reliability is very important to the system, because you might remember back in 2001, 2002 and 2003 we did not have a reliable system and there were rolling brown outs," said Chiarelli. "Hospitals and businesses didn't know when they were going to get brown out warnings."

In terms of the hospital, the services provided by the plant are key to keeping their operation running smoothly.

"We use the heating, cooling, the steam, sterilization in the autoclaves," said Ottawa Hospital CEO Jack Kitts. "You can imagine there's millions of square feet of space in a hospital like this, some of it highly specialized and you can imagine if we didn't have a reliable, or affordable source of energy, the impact it would have on a hospital and it's patients."

Financial terms of the deal have not been disclosed.

The plant was first commissioned in 1992 and TransAlta is spending $20-million over the next two years on a retrofit of the facility.

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