Shutdown at Lambton moves Ontario closer to no-coal goal

On Oct. 23 the province of Ontario marked the end of burning coal at the Lambton Generating Station, which leaves Ontario Power Generation’s Nanticoke Generating Station as the last operating coal-fired facility in Southern Ontario.

Nanticoke is slated to stop burning coal at the end of 2013. This brings Ontario closer to the end of a provincial initiative begun years ago to end coal generation in the province for greenhouse gas reduction purposes.

Ontario has committed to end coal generation by the end of 2014. Closing these plants one year ahead of schedule will save ratepayers C$95m from reduced maintenance and project costs, said the Ontario Energy Ministry in an Oct. 23 statement.

The closure of the Lambton and Nanticoke coal plants comes as Ontario moves toward implementing a smarter electricity grid, increasing efficiencies within the electricity system, introducing strong conservation efforts and committing to cleaner energy sources. Replacing coal with cleaner generation, renewables and conservation will help ease strain on the health care system by eliminating up to 30 megatonnes of emissions that contribute to illness and premature death.

  • Lambton is located on the St. Clair River, 26 kilometers south of Sarnia, Ontario. In October 2010, half of the station’s units were retired. Lambton had lately been capable of producing a reduced total of 950 MW.
  • Nanticoke is located on the north shore of Lake Erie in Haldimand County, Ontario. Four of the station’s eight generators have been retired. In January, Ontario announced that the remaining units (1,880 MW of capacity in total) will cease using coal by the end of 2013.

Since 2003, Ontario has cut its use of coal by nearly 90%. By the end of 2013, Ontario will have shut down 17 of 19 coal-fired units and all of them will be shut down by the end of 2014.

“Ontario is committed to building a clean, modern reliable electricity system to replace dirty coal fired generation,” said Minister of Energy Bob Chiarelli. “Getting off coal is the single largest climate change initiative being undertaken in North America, equivalent to taking up to seven million cars off the road.”

OPG has made a number of moves in recent months in its get-off-of-coal effort, including:

  • OPG’s Atikokan plant in northwestern Ontario, prior to September 2012, produced about 200 MW using low-sulfur lignite coal from Western Canada. In September 2012, Atikokan ceased using coal and the unit was taken out of service to be converted to biomass. The conversion project is expected to be completed in 2014.
  • The Thunder Bay Generating Station is located in the City of Thunder Bay. Its two operating coal-fired generators produce up to 306 MW, using low-sulfur Powder River Basin sub-bituminous coal. Ontario’s Long-Term Energy Plan calls for the conversion of Thunder Bay GS to natural gas, but in November 2012, OPG announced it is suspending further work on the gas conversion, pending a review by the Ontario Power Authority of electricity needs in northwestern Ontario.
About Barry Cassell 20414 Articles
Barry Cassell is Chief Analyst for GenerationHub covering coal and emission controls issues, projects and policy. He has covered the coal and power generation industry for more than 24 years, beginning in November 2011 at GenerationHub and prior to that as editor of SNL Energy’s Coal Report. He was formerly with Coal Outlook for 15 years as the publication’s editor and contributing writer, and prior to that he was editor of Coal & Synfuels Technology and associate editor of The Energy Report. He has a bachelor’s degree from Central Michigan University.