Ontario passed legislation today to permanently ban coal-fired electricity generation in the province. This law is a first in North America and a significant step in the fight against climate change, according to the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change (MOECC).
The Ending Coal for Cleaner Air Act prevents new and existing facilities from burning coal for the sole purpose of generating electricity. It sets maximum fines for anyone who violates the ban and enshrines the health and environmental benefits of making coal-fired electricity illegal in law.
In April 2014, Ontario closed its last coal-fired power plant, the Thunder Bay Generating Station. One of the station’s generating units has switched to advanced biomass for a fuel source.
According to a 2005 independent study, “Cost Benefit Analysis: Replacing Ontario’s Coal-Fired Electricity Generation,” the estimated cost of coal generation was approximately $4.4 billion annually when health, environmental, and financial costs were taken into consideration.
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The MOECC said that closing coal-fired power plants represents one of the largest greenhouse gas reduction initiatives in North America. The closure has eliminated more than 30 megatonnes of annual GHG emissions, equivalent to taking seven-million vehicles off our roads.
More than 90% of the power generated in Ontario now comes from clean energy sources such as water, nuclear and renewables.