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SNC-Lavalin incurs $75,000 fine for unlicensed airport power plant

SNC Lavalin offices in downtown Montreal.

Mario Beauregard/The Canadian Press Images

The Ontario Energy Board has fined SNC-Lavalin Group Inc. $75,000 for operating a gas-fired electrical generating plant at Toronto's Pearson International Airport without a licence for the past 10 years.

They provincial agency says it inspected SNC-Lavalin's operations and maintenance facilities at the Toronto airport "after it became known" the company was generating electricity without a licence.

The provincial agency has not said how it finally learned the company was operating an electricity generation facility for a decade.

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"It is every energy facility owner's and operator's obligation to apply to the OEB for a licence to operate," said Board spokesperson Karen Evans in an e-mail. "SNC, who are providing ancillary services to the Greater Toronto Airports Authority, believed they did not require a licence as the operator of the facility."

Energy Minister Glenn Thibeault said he's "glad" the company was fined by the OEB, which he called a quasi-judicial organization, and suggested he would ask the board how a power generation facility could operate so long without a licence.

"That's part of the conversation that we'll continue to have with the OEB," Mr. Thibeault told reporters. "The public safety was never at risk."

Progressive Conservative energy critic John Yakabuski said the fact that SNC-Lavalin operated the generating station without a licence for 10 years shows the Liberal government is "asleep at the switch" on the energy file.

"When the government doesn't like the news it calls the OEB an arm's-length agency," said Mr. Yakabuski.

NDP Leader Andrea Horwath called the fact the OEB didn't know the generation facility was being operated without a licence "very worrisome," and said the Liberals always point to the board as the agency that will protect consumers from rising electricity rates.

"You have to wonder how much trust we can have in an agency that's had this debacle occur," said Ms. Horwath.

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Mr. Thibeault said the GTAA did have a licence as the owner of the electrical generating plant, but the operator, SNC-Lavalin, didn't get one until it was ordered to do so last June.

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