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TORONTO — One of the last coal-fired power plants in Ontario has been shut down early, bringing the province’s Liberal government closer to fulfilling a long-delayed promise, industry and Queen’s Park sources told The Globe and Mail.
Energy Minister Bob Chiarelli will announce Wednesday that the coal plant in Lambton, near Sarnia, Ont., finished operating in late September, three months ahead of schedule, the sources said. The government, which is on a long-term mission to replace all of the province’s coal facilities with greener sources of energy, said in January that the Lambton plant, along with another in Nanticoke, would close by the end of the year.
But one source said the government moved the time-frame for Lambton up to the end of September, and the plant burnt its last coal Sept. 26. The source said the Nanticoke plant is set to keep burning until Dec. 31.
Mr. Chiarelli’s office refused to confirm any of this information ahead of the announcement. Premier Kathleen Wynne’s staff referred all questions to Mr. Chiarelli.
But data from the Independent Electricity System Operator data showed Lambton shuttered Tuesday, while Nanticoke was running at only a tiny fraction of its capacity for most of the day.
Former premier Dalton McGuinty made phasing out coal a key part of his wide-ranging environmental policy. But it was a difficult promise to keep. In 2003, the Liberals pledged to end coal in five years, by the end of 2007. They ultimately revised that pledge to 2014, and eventually to this year.
While removing coal from the mix cuts back on greenhouse-gas emissions, the Liberals have generally framed the exercise as a matter of cleaning up the province’s air and reducing costs to the health-care system. The location of Mr. Chiarelli’s announcement – St. Michael’s Hospital in downtown Toronto – suggests that he will focus on this benefit.
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