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Phasing Out Coal Power in Ontario

Archived Backgrounder

Phasing Out Coal Power in Ontario

When the coal phase-out is completed by 2014, 19 coal units at five Ontario Power Generation plants in the province will have ceased to burn coal as a fuel. Eight of the 19 units have already been shut down:

  • Four units at Mississauga's Lakeview Generating Station in 2005
  • Two units at the Nanticoke Generating Station near Simcoe in 2010
  • Two units at the Lambton Generating Station near Sarnia in 2010

Coal generation has dropped significantly. In 2009, coal-fired generation was at its lowest level in 45 years. In the past 10 years, coal-fired generation has moved from providing 27 per cent to only 7 per cent of Ontario's electricity needs.

Moving from Coal to Cleaner Energy

Since 2003, Ontario has brought online more than 8,000 megawatts (MW) of cleaner electricity. At current levels of demand that's enough electricity to power cities the size of Ottawa and Toronto. Prior to 2003, no significant new investments had been made in electricity generation in almost 10 years.

After the four units are closed today, Ontario will rely on the remaining 4,484 MW of the 11 coal-fired units still in operation to ensure there is a sufficient, reliable electricity supply available to power our homes and businesses at peak times.

Ontario's Long-Term Energy Plan - to be released later this year - will map out the next steps for Ontario's coal-free future and build additional cleaner energy to power our homes and businesses.

The Future of the Plants

Ontario is studying the feasibility of converting some of its remaining 11 units to burn other forms of fuel like natural gas and/or biomass, a renewable fuel source. As part of a pilot program, the government recently directed the Ontario Power Authority to negotiate a power purchase agreement with Ontario Power Generation for biomass-fuelled electricity at the Atikokan Generating Station. The project will create up to 200 construction jobs and help protect existing jobs at the power plant. The project is expected to take up to three years to complete and is projected to generate 150 million kilowatt-hours of renewable energy, enough to power 15,000 homes a year. The government is assessing options for the three other coal-fired plants.

Ontario Leading the Way In Creating A Coal-Free Future

Ontario is the first jurisdiction in North America - and one of the first in the world - to legislate the shutdown of coal-fired generation.

According to recent data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration, 25 U.S. states relied on coal-fired generation for more than 50 per cent of their electricity needs in 2008 (including nine states where coal was 75 per cent or more of total generation).
In three Canadian provinces in 2008 (Nova Scotia, Alberta and Saskatchewan), over 50 per cent of electricity was generated by coal. Alberta generated 82% of its electricity from coal.

By contrast, more than 75 per cent of Ontario's generation came from emissions free sources in 2008.

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