You might know it best as one of the first visuals that the long, flat haul down the Trans Canada from Winnipeg is into the home stretch. For so many in the area the facility with the trademark red and white striped stack has served a much more significant purpose as the Brandon Generating Station, burning coal to heat water and convert steam energy into electricity.
As reported by the Brandon Sun this morning, with coal power no longer necessary its been learned that Hydro's final coal generator in Brandon was shut down last year... marking the end of an era for a facility known to locals as “The Steam Plant.”
Its status as a local landmark wont be changing any time soon, however. You may still derive a sense of nostalgia in seeing steam come from the building. I’m told by a Hydro spokesperson that the facility is to be still be used as a “synchronous condenser” until approx 2045. Rather than generate electricity, its purpose will be to stabilize system voltage in Westman and that as part of that functionality water vapour is given off in connection with river water used in cooling.
There remain approx 100,000 tonnes of coal on site for which Manitoba Hydro is looking for ways to safety and responsibly dispose of.