Thunder Bay Generating Station stops burning coal

Ontario has stopped using coal to generate electricity, becoming the first jurisdiction in North America to phase out coal as a power source.

The Mission Island plant was the last in the province to use coal, and will now burn biomass

The Thunder Bay Generating Station has burned its last supply of coal, making Ontario the first jurisdiction in North America to fully eliminate coal as a source of electricity generation.

Operated by Ontario Power Generation, Thunder Bay GS was the last-remaining coal fired station in the province, as well as the oldest. The plant is scheduled to be converted to burn advanced biomass, a renewable fuel source. According to an Ontario government news release, 60 jobs will be retained.   

Speaking to reporters in Ottawa today, provincial energy minister Bob Chiarelli said the province has met its commitment to end coal generation before the end of 2014.

"It had become 25 per cent of our capacity, and it was literally making people sick", he said.

Chiarelli recalled coaching his daughter's hockey team 10 years ago.

"On the bench, there would be four or five players, young girls, with asthma puffers....[Now] the incidence of asthma is greatly reduced, particularly children, so that's part of the reason we decided to do it.  It was the right thing to do," the minister said.

The government said since 2003, its coal closure plan has eliminated up to 30 megatonnes of emissions annually.

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