Ontario has become the first jurisdiction in North America to fully eliminate coal as a source of electricity generation. The Thunder Bay Generating Station, Ontario's final remaining coal-fired facility, has burned its last supply of coal and will be converted to burn biomass.
According to the Ontario Ministry of Energy, this means the province has fulfilled its commitment to close all of its coal plants in advance of its year-end 2014 target. Ontario has replaced coal with a mix of emission-free electricity sources like wind, solar, nuclear and hydropower, along with lower-emission electricity sources like natural gas and biomass.
Last year, Ontario also introduced the Ending Coal for Cleaner Air Act, which the ministry says would ensure coal-fired generation as a source of electricity in the province never happens again. Citing a 2005 independent study, the ministry says the estimated cost of coal generation was approximately $4.4 billion annually when health, environmental, and financial costs were taken into consideration.
"Getting off coal is the single largest climate change initiative undertaken in North America and is equivalent to taking up to seven million cars off the road," comments Energy Minister Bob Chiarelli. "Today we celebrate a cleaner future for our children and grandchildren while embracing the environmental benefits that our cleaner energy sources will bring."