Coal power plants out, energy minister says
TORONTO -- Ontario has no plans to listen to "Neanderthals" who want the province to keep its coal-burning power plants operating, even if that's what a report being prepared for the government recommends, says Energy Minister Dwight Duncan.
Duncan offered an emphatic "no" when asked whether he'd be willing to revisit the Liberal government's promise to stop burning coal for electricity even if the Ontario Power Authority calls for exactly that in a report expected in December.
"We are moving to close the coal plants, period, full stop," Duncan said.
More than 80 per cent of the province's power generation needs to be rebuilt or replaced over the next 20 years. The OPA has been meeting with energy industry stakeholders to determine what sources of new power generation the province should invest in.
Ontario is powered 49 per cent by nuclear reactors. Twenty-five per cent is supplied by hydro, 17 per cent by coal, seven per cent by gas and the remainder from wind and other alternative energy sources.
Duncan has said the government will agree to build new nuclear reactors should the OPA recommend it. But he says those lobbying the authority to recommend so-called cleaner coal technology and keeping the plants open are a century behind the times.
"I say to the Neanderthals . . . we're moving forward responsibly to ensure that we clean up our air," Duncan said. "We're in the 21st century. They're in the 19th century."
Air pollution remains a key concern in Ontario. Fifty smog advisories have been issued for the province this year, including a rare October advisory issued last week.
"I am sick and tired of having smog days in October," he said. "We had a smog day in February. We've had smog days in Algonquin Park."
He's also unimpressed with a report by Energy Probe, a national energy and environmental research group, which last week listed two Ontario coal-fired plants as among the cleanest in North America.
"So we may have among some of the better of the worst forms of energy producers in North America. Who cares?" Duncan said. "We want to get rid of them. It's the equivalent of taking every vehicle, every car and every light truck off the road in this province."
Duncan's resistance to coal is a mistake, argues Energy Probe executive director Tom Adams.
Adams wants the province to keep at least two units at its Lambton station at Courtright, which rank fourth and ninth out of 403 in the report's list of the cleanest plants on the continent.
Adams argues closing the units would end up requiring the province to import coal-fired power from the United States.
Wednesday, October 12, 2005
I think I like this guy! I'd like him even better if he said, "And no more gas burners either! Renewables - especially nuclear - only."