© Geraldine Brophy
Wood is taken to be processed at Corner Brook Pulp and Paper in this file photo.
CORNER BROOK — It’s awfully cold out when even Corner Brook Pulp and Paper agrees to help the province’s electrical grid out by curtailing its operations and giving power back to the system.
That is exactly what has been happening for the past few days, according to the mill’s vice-president and general manager.
Ric Tull said, at the request of Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro, the paper mill has agreed to help the utility’s generation issues in light of the bitterly cold temperatures causing an unusually high drain on power consumption across the island portion of the province. Corner Brook Pulp and Paper generates the majority of the electricity it uses on its own. However, it still does draw down some power from Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro.
“Not only are we using less power at times, we are generating power back to the grid,” Tull confirmed Thursday.
At times, the mill is actually contributing 60 per cent of its own power generation back to the grid.
“It’s a sizable amount of power,” Tull said.
Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro said the mill has been able to provide up to 60 megawatts of power to the grid. That block of power was called upon Thursday, according to the utility’s spokesperson.
This has meant an adjustment to the production of newsprint at the mill. Tull said the plant has been ceasing production on one of its machines at times and bringing it back up to production levels during times when the provincial grid is not at peak consumption.
Tull said the measures the paper mill has agreed to has not meant a reduction in its workforce at any point. He did say the mill could not continue to provide this assistance indefinitely.
“We recognize there are issues and we will continue to help as much as we can on short-term basis, but we are in the business of producing paper, not power,” said Tull.
Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro issued a public advisory earlier Thursday, requesting that residents and businesses alike conserve energy consumption as much as possible. It was forecasting a high demand for power, given the unseasonably cold conditions affecting the entire province.
It expected peak loads to be between 4-8 p.m. Thursday evening and between 7-10 a.m. Friday morning.
Customers are being asked to reduce their electric heat by a few degrees: conserve hot water by not running showers, dishwashers and washing machines; avoid using clothes dryers; and turning off Christmas lights.
Newfoundland Power, meanwhile, issued an advisory Thursday for its customers to anticipate rotating power outages to help manage the electricity demand. Many parts of Corner Brook and the area were without power Thursday evening.