Bigger not better

Ontario Clean Air Alliance: Jessica Fracass - April 03, 2008

The Ontario Government wants to build a 350-400 megawatt simple-cycle natural gas power plant somewhere in Northern York Region (NYR). Such a plant would be too big, too costly and too polluting.

Too big: Northern York Region does need to increase its local electricity supply, but the proposed plant would almost double the region's supply capacity - essentially, using a hammer to kill a fly. The rationale that this power could be used in other areas of the province also doesn't hold water. Converting a single boiler at the Lambton coal plant to gas would be a much cheaper option if this new supply is really needed.

Too costly: Would you spend $230 million to build a power plant that will be used on only a handful of very hot summer days? Or would you invest in peak demand reduction and demand shifting programs to reduce peak demand and make building a huge new power plant unnecessary? Peak demand actually fell in 2007 in Northern York Region compared to 2006 so that big plant may quickly become a big white elephant.

Too polluting: Simple cycle is the least efficient way to burn valuable natural gas. The greenhouse gas emission rate for the proposed plant will be double that of a combined heat and power facility. Is this any way to get serious about reducing our climate impact?

Our new report: Too Big, Too Costly and Too Polluting: The Proposed Power Plant for Northern York Region lays out an alternative strategy that will be a much better fit for York Region and Ontario. The report is available on our website at

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