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Ontario Releases C$87 Billion Long-Term Energy Plan

In a long-term energy plan released last week, Ontario’s government reiterated its commitment to phase out coal power in the province by 2014 while increasing nuclear capacity.

The plan, which notes that power demand in the province is expected to grow 15% between 2010 and 2030, addresses seven key areas: demand, supply, conservation, transmission, Aboriginal communities, capital investments, and electricity prices.

According to the Toronto Star, the plan will cost up to C$87 billion. The bulk of that (C$33 billion) will be spent on nuclear power, though wind, solar, and biomass will receive substantial amounts (C$14 billion, C$9 billion, and C$4 billion, respectively). The province plans to spend C$9 billion on transmission upgrades.

Though it reaffirms previously announced policy initiatives, the plan seeks to clarify how these will proceed and when. Among key features of the plan are converting two units at the Thunder Bay coal plant to natural gas and converting the Atikokan coal plant to biomass. The province’s Ministry of Energy also said that two additional coal units at Nanticoke will be shut down in 2011.

The ministry said it remained committed to increasing nuclear power output, which provides nearly 50% of the province’s power. “To do so Ontario will rebuild what it can, and replace [what] it can’t,” it said. “Units at the Darlington and Bruce sites will need to be modernized and the province will need two new nuclear units at Darlington. Investing in refurbishment and extending the life of the Pickering B station until 2020 will provide good value for Ontarians.”

The province also plans to increase hydroelectric capacity to 9,000 MW, undergoing what it called “the largest hydroelectric expansion in almost 40 years” through the Niagara Tunnel and Lower Mattagami projects.

Renewable energy is a dominant part of the plan. The province plans to increase generating capacity from wind, solar, and bioenergy to 10,700 MW by 2018 through transmission expansion, maximizing the use of the existing system, and feed-in-tariff programs. Among transmission plans to be given priority are five projects “needed immediately for reliability.”

Source: Ontario Ministry of Energy, Toronto Star

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