Resolute Forest Products Inc. (NYSE: RFP) (TSX: RFP) has officially inaugurated a major power island producing green energy at its pulp and paper operation located in Thunder Bay, Ontario. The power island includes a refurbished and upgraded woodwaste boiler and a new 65-megawatt condensing turbine. Approved by Resolute in early 2011, the C$65 million project took just over 21 months to complete.
"The power island is a strategic addition to Resolute's Thunder Bay facility," stated Richard Garneau, President and Chief Executive Officer. "It will reduce the mill's energy costs as well as maximize our local woodlands, sawmill, pulp and paper, and energy operations by fully utilizing forest-based biomass to produce green electricity."
The green power produced will be sold to the Ontario grid under a power purchase agreement between Resolute and the Ontario Power Authority.
To mark the inauguration, a ceremonial "throwing of the switch" was held earlier today involving key Company and government representatives. Richard Garneau and Resolute Chairman of the Board Richard B. Evans were joined by a number of government dignitaries, including: Ontario Minister of Northern Development and Mines and MPP, Thunder Bay-Superior North, the Honourable Michael Gravelle; Member of Provincial Parliament for Thunder-Bay-Atikokan Bill Mauro; and Mayor of Thunder Bay Keith Hobbs. Resolute employees and local community leaders also attended the event. The project received support from the Ontario Government's Forest Sector Prosperity Fund, as well as from the Federal Government's Pulp and Paper Green Transformation Program.
"This project is consistent with Resolute's focus on optimizing our network to reduce costs as well as investing in projects that improve our competitive position and are aligned with a sustainable future," added Garneau.
Although he could not attend the inauguration, the Honourable David Orazietti, Ontario Minister of Natural Resources, sent a statement to mark the occasion: "The investment by Resolute in its turbine at Thunder Bay is a key commitment by the company to support the future viability of the Thunder Bay pulp and paper operation. I am pleased to see that the government's offer of access to additional wood supply through the 2010 wood supply competition has helped support Resolute's investment in its turbine, and that this government provided C$9.6 million towards this important green energy project that is integral to Resolute's pulp and paper complex in Thunder Bay."
"This is certainly an important investment that will ensure Resolute Forest Products remains a strong global force in the pulp and paper industry while continuing to contribute to the Thunder Bay economy. This new power island will significantly reduce their impact on the environment, and I'm thrilled that our government was able to help support this project," stated Michael Gravelle, Ontario Minister of Northern Development and Mines and MPP, Thunder Bay-Superior North.
"This project helps to position the Resolute Forest Products mill in Thunder Bay as one of the most strategic assets - if not the most strategic - in their entire North American network," stated Member of Provincial Parliament for Thunder-Bay-Atikokan Bill Mauro. "I am happy that our government programs are able to support the private sector investment by Resolute in the Thunder Bay operation, which is now very well-positioned to support its employees, its customers and the Thunder Bay economy for years to come."
"The City of Thunder Bay strives to be clean, green and beautiful," said Keith Hobbs, Mayor of Thunder Bay. "We thank Resolute for embracing these principles and congratulate them on this innovation that demonstrates their commitment to sustainability."