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 –  As wildfires continue to burn across the country and air quality has become an urgent concern in Ontario, the province’s recent gas plant expansions and extensions are utterly irresponsible. Ontario does not need any more fossil gas, it can easily meet its growing electricity demand with clean sources like wind and solar power, which would be less expensive for residents too.

While Ontario’s Energy Minister indicated that new gas projects would require municipal resolutions in support, that doesn’t seem to be the case. The recent capacity expansions have gone ahead without such support and likely any consultation at all. Both Toronto and Brampton City Councils seem to have been caught off guard by the announcements and are rightly concerned about the impact these new contracts will have on their ability to meet emissions reduction targets. Instead of supporting municipalities in meeting their targets, the province is steamrolling them by expanding the lifespan of polluting gas projects that they don’t want or need.

The good news is that the Ontario government’s interest in new gas plants appears to be encountering some hurdles. The IESO was only able to drum up proposals to meet half of its intended new gas generation capacity during its expedited contract process. This may be due to the anticipated Federal government’s Clean Electricity Regulations that will likely require grids across Canada achieve net zero emissions by 2035. The province needs to face the reality that the only way forward is to focus on building clean electricity projects like wind and solar.

Background information: 

  • Today the IESO announced capacity expansions and contract extensions for St. Clair Energy Centre in St.Clair Township and for York Energy Centre in King Township, close to Newmarket.
  • The IESO’s previous announcement included contracts for new gas plants in Windsor and St. Clair Township as well as expansion of facilities in Toronto, Brampton, Halton Hills, and Thorold. 
  • The IESO’s Expedited LT1 procurement process was seeking to offer contracts for up to 600 MW of new gas generation. It has only offered contracts for 318.5 MW of new generation to date.  
  • Additional contracts for new gas plants are planned and are scheduled to be announced in the first or second quarters of 2024. 
  • On December 23, 2022, the Minister of Energy sent a letter to the IESO requiring new gas projects receive municipal resolutions in support. 
  • 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).
  • In response to the IESO’s previous contract announcement in May, Toronto City Council passed a motion asking the Federal government to strengthen its forthcoming Clean Electricity Regulations to ensure Toronto’s Portlands gas plant could not be expanded.  
  • Toronto council members expressed concern to the media about the expansion at the Portlands plant on Toronto’s eastern waterfront, after it passed a motion committing to stop gas expansions in the city. 
  • Brampton City Council also passed a motion following the IESO’s May announcement asking staff to investigate what the impact of the Goreway plant’s capacity expansion and contract extension would have on the city’s climate targets.  
  • 34 municipalities have passed motions calling on the province to phase out gas-generated electricity.  
  • The Royal Bank of Canada’s recent report concluded Ontario can avoid the need for new gas plants by making smart investments. 

Find out more about Ontario’s gas problem at

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

Carolyn Townend, Environmental Defence,