Ontario is on a costly collision course with Ottawa

With the release of Ontario’s Independent Electricity System Operator’s Pathways to Decarbonization Report, the province of Ontario is setting itself on a collision course with the federal government. Ottawa has pledged to deliver a net-zero electricity sector by 2035, however the IESO is arguing that Ontario needs 8000 megawatts of gas-fired generation in 2035 and is only planning to decarbonize the electricity sector by 2050, 15 years later. 

If this pathway is followed, either Canada will fail to meet its emissions reduction commitments or Ontario ratepayers will be on the hook paying for gas plants to sit idle. This is because the Ontario Minister of Energy has directed the IESO to structure contracts with new gas plants to ensure they get paid even if they are forced to shut down due to federal climate change laws. 

Regardless, this plan will be costly for Ontarians. Either we will have to pay billions of dollars in unnecessary carbon costs each year because of the plan to rely on gas, or we’ll pay billions of dollars to gas plants that are not generating power. 

It is good to see that the IESO is planning on increasing renewable generation, but the province should be planning on procuring much more wind, solar and storage, rather than relying on gas and a massive build-out of nuclear power. Ontario’s competitiveness depends on clean power. Committing to gas until 2050 will deter investment in the low-carbon economy.   

ABOUT ENVIRONMENTAL DEFENCE (environmentaldefence.ca): Environmental Defence is a leading Canadian environmental advocacy organization that works with government, industry and individuals to defend clean water, a safe climate and healthy communities.

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For more information or to request an interview, please contact:

Alex Ross, Environmental Defence, media@environmentaldefence.ca