Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty has announced that the province will shut down 17 of 19 coal plants by the end of this year and eliminate coal as a source of electricity production by the end of 2014.
The last of the coal plants in the southern part of the province will be retired by the end of this year – a year ahead of schedule.
The early closure of Ontario's two largest coal-fired electricity plants, Nanticoke and Lambton, comes as a result of the province's improved, smarter electricity grid, increased efficiency, strong conservation efforts and diversified supply of clean energy, the provincial government says.
The Canadian Wind Energy Association (CanWEA) applauded McGuinty's decision, suggesting it would clear the way for more wind power in the province.
"The move to eliminate dirty coal from the provincial power system makes Ontario a North American leader in both environmental performance and in supporting the development of a clean energy economy," said Robert Hornung, president of CanWEA. "Ontario is one of North America's wind energy leaders, and every 1,000 MW of new wind energy development represents more than $2.5 billion in new investment. Our developers, manufacturers and construction contractors are excited and ready to help the province continue to build a world-leading power system that is cleaner and affordable."
However, there is no certainty as to what measures the next provincial government might take. McGuinty, who has been a wind power proponent, announced he is stepping down. Members of other political parties in the province have disapproved of McGuinty's pro-wind stance. In fact, some members of the Progressive Conservative Party are calling for a moratorium on all wind energy development in the province.
Wind energy in Ontario has grown from 400 MW in 2006 to over 2 GW today, according to CanWEA.