Pembina Institute

The High Costs of Cheap Power

Pollution from coal-fired electricity in Canada

When we flick on the light switch or run our appliances, most of us do not think of where our electricity comes from. Many Canadians think our electricity simply comes from hydroelectric generation. As such, we do not associate it with the images of smoke stacks and billowing plumes that we see south of our border or elsewhere in the world where coal-fired electricity gets more attention.

The reality is that the combination of electricity sources — and therefore the qualities and characteristics of the electricity system — depend on where we live in the country. Some provinces live up to the common conception of predominantly hydroelectric power, but six provinces still burn coal to generate electricity and three of these — Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Nova Scotia — rely more on coal than any other source of electricity combined.

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