Statement from Lana Goldberg, Ontario Climate Program Manager

Toronto | Traditional territories of the Mississaugas of the Credit, the Anishinaabeg, the Haudenosaunee, and the Huron-Wendat –  It is irresponsible for the Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO) to be procuring new polluting gas plants in the midst of a climate crisis. Ramping up “natural” gas – a fossil fuel – to generate electricity across Southern Ontario will come at a high cost to both the public and the environment, especially when there are cheaper and cleaner alternatives available.

The IESO’s plan fails Ontarians for three reasons: 

  1. Natural gas prices have been increasing, so ratepayers will continue to pay more for electricity despite cheaper and greener alternatives available. 
  2. Incoming federal clean electricity regulations may cause new plants to shut down, leaving ratepayers on the hook to pay for stranded assets in the long term. 
  3. Businesses could lose out on savings through federal clean energy tax credits if Ontario does not move towards net zero in the electricity sector by 2035. The whole province could also miss out on investments from companies looking to operate in places with 100 per cent clean electricity. 

In addition, some of the gas operators receiving contracts claim new facilities will be hydrogen-ready – an effort to make gas plants appear less harmful. In reality, the majority of hydrogen available today is made from fossil fuels and its use results in about the same amount of emissions as a regular gas plant. It is clear that hydrogen is being used as an excuse to build new gas plants. 

While natural gas prices have skyrocketed in the last year and will remain volatile, wind and solar are now the cheapest form of new electricity generation and offer lower rates for the consumer. Numerous reports show that Ontario can meet its growing electricity needs with renewable energy which can be combined with storage technologies that allow the energy to be used during peak demand. 

Rather than building new gas plants and expanding existing facilities, Ontario needs to plan for the future and invest in affordable clean energy solutions which will reduce the province’s emissions and make electricity more affordable for people. 

Background information: 

  • The Independent Electricity System Operator has announced contracts for gas-fired electricity generation projects including new facilities in Windsor and St. Clair Township as well as expansion of facilities in Toronto, Brampton, Halton Hills, and Thorold.
  • The IESO projects emissions from the electricity sector will increase over 400 per cent by 2030 and by almost 800 per cent by 2040 (compared to the 2017 level).
  • Contracts for the four existing facilities have been extended beyond their current contracts of 2029 and 2030 to 2034 or 2035. 
  • 34 Ontario municipalities have passed motions opposing the expansion of gas-fired electricity in the province, including Toronto, Halton Hills, Brampton, and Windsor where the IESO has offered contracts for additional generation.

Find out more about Ontario’s gas problem here:

ABOUT ENVIRONMENTAL DEFENCE ( 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.

– 30 –

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

Stephanie Kohls, Environmental Defence,