ONA response to Guelph Mercury opinion piece

Re Energy in Ontario: Where do we go from here? (September 13)

While the author applauds the Ontario government for taking a step in the right direction by eliminating coal, the article is light on the recognition of nuclear’s critical role in this initiative and its role in Canada and Ontario’s clean energy future.

On April 15, 2014, Ontario burned its last piece of coal, marking a transformational day for the province as it becomes the first coal-free jurisdiction in North America.

Closing coal-fired power plants represents one of the largest greenhouse gas reduction initiatives in North America. The closure has eliminated more than 30 megatonnes of annual GHG emissions, equivalent to taking seven million vehicles off our roads.

This transformational change in Ontario was accomplished through the strength of Ontario’s nuclear sector which provided 90 percent of the incremental electricity needed to phase out coal.

Thankfully, today, the people of Ontario have cleaner air from cleaner energy.

Ontario’s nuclear advantage was critical in helping Ontario achieve this policy objective. Today, Nuclear power continues to play a critical role in meeting the energy and air quality needs of the province, accounting for roughly 60 per cent of Ontario’s electricity supply annually.

Due to Ontario’s nuclear strength over the past decade, greenhouse gas emissions in Ontario’s electricity sector have been reduced by more than 80 per cent. Over 95 per cent of electricity generated in Ontario comes from non-greenhouse gas emitting resources.

The coal phase-out was realized on the back of Ontario’s nuclear sector and the benefits extend far beyond those mentioned in the article. According to a 2005 Ministry of Energy report, phasing out coal avoids 25,000 emergency room visits, 20,000 hospital admissions, 8.1 million minor illness cases and provides a financial benefit of $2.6 billion annually or $70 billion through 2040.

With such a reliable supply of carbon-free energy being provided by Ontario’s nuclear fleet, the future is bright for the health of Ontario residents. Serving as an example, Ontario undertook a multi-year effort that decreased the average Ontarian’s environmental footprint that resulted in a financial benefit to the province and represents a model for the rest of Canada.

Decisions made on the energy fuel source must balance both the needs of today and future generations, without ignoring the correlation between air emissions, climate and human health.

The role of nuclear power in Canada goes far beyond being a clean and reliable source of energy. It has an important role to play in medicine, food safety, research and innovation and supports thousands of long- term, high-tech and well-paid jobs.

Leveraging Ontario’s nuclear advantage supports both our economy and the global transition to a low-carbon future. Thanks to the success of Ontario’s coal phase-out, we are not starting from zero but are already leaders. We must continue to build on this success by ensuring our investments in these key areas of our energy infrastructure reach their full potential for Ontario and for Canada.

Taylor McKenna
Ontario’s Nuclear Advantage
Toronto, ON

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