Tim Weis, director of renewable energy and efficiency policy at the Pembina Institute, made the following statement in response to Ontario’s announcement that it will phase out its existing coal plants by 2013, one year earlier than expected:
“In announcing the closure of Lambton and Nanticoke, by the end of this year Ontario will become the first jurisdiction in all of North America to shut down its coal fleet.
“As recently as 2010, Ontario’s Nanticoke coal plant — at one point, North America’s largest — was one of Canada’s top-10 emitters of greenhouse gas pollution. Together, Nanticoke and Lambton had almost the coal-burning capacity of Saskatchewan and Nova Scotia’s entire coal fleets. Ontario’s leadership puts the province well ahead of even federal regulations for coal-fired electricity that do not come into effect until 2015, and which will take another decade and a half to have accomplished the equivalent of today’s announcement.
“Ontarians can also breathe easier knowing that other toxic pollutants from burning coal — such as mercury, a known neurotoxin, as well as asthma-causing particulate matter — have been significantly reduced. Ontario’s coal fleet released over 500 kg of airborne mercury every year at the beginning of the decade.
“Just over one decade ago, coal made up 25 per cent of Ontario’s electricity supply. With its sustained commitment to ending its reliance on the dirtiest fossil fuel, Ontario is showing the country — and the world — what a genuine commitment to cleaner energy can accomplish.”
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For more information about Ontario’s renewable energy program, read the Pembina Institute report, Behind the switch: pricing Ontario electricity options, and see our High costs of cheap power: Pollution from coal-fired electricity in Canada.
Director, renewable energy and efficiency policy