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Canada Ontario

Ontario Behind Schedule – but Coal Closures Still Impress

Canada OntarioOntario’s near-elimination of coal-fired power plants is an unprecedented achievement in North America – though not one before its time.

Former premier Dalton McGuinty promised in his 2003 electoral campaign that the province would shut all coal-fired plants by 2007, the Toronto Star has reported. That promise keeps getting pushed back, with the final coal plant now due to close in the next year. Premier Kathleen Wynne is this week introducing a bill, the Ending Coal for Cleaner Air Act, to ban coal in the province entirely.

If the province can finally pull it off, the achievement is nothing to sniff at. Ontario is home to 13.5 million people, 38.5 percent of the Canadian population, and its GDP of $674 billion makes up roughly the same proportion of the country’s economy. Manufacturing sales last year were $272 billion, led by transportation equipment, food, petroleum and coal products, and chemicals.

The province has achieved the energy shift partially through renewables. Its 2009 Green Energy Act provided for feed-in tariffs, and wind energy now accounts for 5 percent of capacity, the National Journal notes. Nuclear makes up 36 percent, gas 28 percent and hydropower 22 percent. Coal still makes up 9 percent of capacity but the other sources provide the province with enough electricity to meet peak demand.

Takeaway: Ontario has nearly achieved its goal of going coal-free – six to seven years late, but still miles ahead of its North American neighbors.

Tamar Wilner is Senior Editor at Environmental Leader PRO.

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