Over the last five years, our average availability has been 87.3 per cent, which is below our corporate target of 90 per cent. This decrease in average availability has been primarily due to the accelerated planned maintenance undertaken in 2009, higher than normal unplanned outages at our coal-fired plants in 2009 and 2008, and derating at Centralia Thermal in 2007. It is also because of boiler conversions at Centralia in 2009 and 2008. These issues resulted in higher emissions and impacted financial performance due to lower production.
In 2009, we reviewed each unit and developed asset-specific maintenance plans to achieve our target of 90 per cent availability, which will result in more predictable performance and stable costs.
TransAlta opened its Operations Diagnostic Centre in late 2008. It is designed to help plant staff achieve both availability targets and aggressive heat rate targets, and will be instrumental in addressing the issues faced in 2009.
The Centre started monitoring Sundance, Keephills Centralia and Sarnia plants in December 2008. In 2009, Mississauga, Ottawa, Windsor and Fort Saskatchewan were added. In 2010, Keephills 3 and Poplar Creek will be connected to the Centre as well.