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Ontario to shut down coal-fired plant ahead of schedule

World Coal,

Ontario’s Liberal government is to announce the shut down of the Lambton coal-fired generating station a few months ahead of schedule.

Energy Minister Bob Chiarelli has called a conference to announce that the coal plant in Lambton, near Sarnia, Ontario, finished operating in late September, three months ahead of schedule. The government, which has a long-term plan to replace all coal facilities in the province with greener energy sources, announced in January that the Lambton plant, together with a plant in Nanticoke, would close by the end of 2013. The remaining units of the Nanticoke coal station may also be closing earlier than originally planned.

Chiarelli’s office refused to confirm any information ahead of the announcement today, however data from the Independent Electricity System Operator showed Lambton shuttered on Tuesday, while Nanticoke was running at a tiny fraction of its capacity.

The Liberals came to office in 2003 promising to close all Ontario’s coal-fired plants by 2007, but found the promise impossible to keep. They ultimately revised that pledge to 2014, and eventually to this year.

While removing coal from the energy mix reduces greenhouse gas emissions, the Liberals have generally proposed the long term scheme as a matter of cleaning up the province’s air and reducing costs to the healthcare system.

As the government moved to close down Lambton and Nanticoke, the plants were told to burn up any remaining coal. John Sprackett, a spokesman for the Power Workers’ Union, said the Lambton plant’s supply was very low the last time he checked, while Nanticoke had a little more. He urged the government to convert the sites into natural gas plants.

In addition to Lambton and Nanticoke, Ontario has another two coal plants. One, in Atikokan, is in the process of being converted to biomass. The other, in Thunder Bay, is still in operation. The government at one point intended to convert the Thunder Bay plant to a natural gas-fired plant, however has since suspended those plans.

Edited from various sources by Katie Woodward

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