Toronto – The Green Energy Act Alliance (GEAA), a coalition of farmers, First Nations, trade unionists, environmentalists and builders of clean energy, applauded today’s announcement by the Ontario government that it is shutting down four coal-fired units today. This is a huge contribution to the Premier’s commitment to replace coal entirely with clean energy sources.
“Coal is history in Ontario,” said Dr. Rick Smith, Executive Director of Environmental Defence, the coordinating organization for the GEAA. “Ontario can’t afford the costs of coal any longer – the smog, human illness and global warming that coal-fired energy brings. Replacing coal with renewable energy is a bargain by any measure.”
Government figures show that since 2003, when coal-fired electricity use peaked, Ontario Power Generation’s emissions of sulphur dioxide and nitrogen oxides – the main components of air pollution, are down 81 and 77 per cent, respectively. The coal plants’ carbon dioxide emissions, the leading pollutant that causes climate change, are down 71 per cent from 2003.
“The government’s plan to phase out coal was the first step on its path towards building a more sustainable energy system for Ontario,” said Deborah Doncaster, Community Power Fund’s Executive Director. “Progress on that plan and the introduction of the award winning Green Energy and Green Economy Act has opened the door for renewable energy, community and residential ownership of projects, and thousands of local jobs.”
“Ontario is distinguishing itself as being the first jurisdiction in Canada that was once heavily dependent on coal power but is now phasing it out completely by using clean and renewable energy resources,” said Tim Weis, Director of Renewable Energy and Efficiency at the Pembina Institute.
GEAA members are pleased that people all over Ontario have embraced the Act and the phase out of coal by lining up to generate their own energy from renewable sources. The province has added more than 8,000 megawatts of new, cleaner energy since 2003. GEAA members are also pleased that a great number of projects, especially those in the microFit category, are owned by school, community and First Nations groups, as well as individual Ontarians, including farmers and homeowners.
Quick Facts
•    In 2009, generation by Ontario’s coal plants was at its lowest level in 45 years, and down more than 70 per cent from 2003.
•    SO2 emissions from the coal plants are down 81 per cent (from 2003 levels in 2009).
•    NOx emissions are down 77 per cent (from 2003 levels in 2009).
•    CO2 emissions from the coal plants are down 71 per cent.
•    In 2004, the Ontario Ministry of Energy estimated that when the health and environmental impacts are factored into the cost of electricity, coal costs 16.4 cents per kilowatt hour compared to 9.6 cents for wind.
•    The Ontario Medical Association’s 2008 report “Illness Cost of Air Pollution” concluded that air pollution was a contributing factor in almost 9,500 premature deaths per year in Ontario. The OMA’s report said that smog was responsible for over 16,000 hospital admissions in 2005.
About the Green Energy Act Alliance: The Alliance’s vision is to make Ontario a global leader in green energy development through the use of renewable energy, distributed energy and conservation, creating thousands of jobs, economic prosperity, and energy security, while ensuring climate protection. Member groups include: Ontario Sustainable Energy Association, Community Power Fund, David Suzuki Foundation, Environmental Defence, United Steelworkers, First Nations Energy Alliance, Ivey Foundation, Ontario Federation of Agriculture and the Pembina Institute (www.GreenEnergyAct.ca).
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For more information, or to arrange interviews, please contact:
Erin Charter, Environmental Defence, (416) 323-9521 ext. 258; (647) 280-9521 (cell)