TORONTO—Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty is staring down the barrel of even more criticism as his leadership comes to an end, this time after announcing the closure of two coal-burning plants in the province.
Just hours after McGuinty announced the closures of both the Nanticoke and Lambton generating stations in southwestern Ontario, the Society of Energy Professionals fired back at the premier, calling the decision “a huge mistake.”
In a statement, Society vice-president Joe Fierro said publicly-owned plant operator Ontario Power Generation (OPG) should convert the facilities to burn natural gas or biomass.
According to Fierro, in the first nine months of 2012, OPG coal plants were paid an average rate of 3.5 cents per killowatt-hour (KWh).
The average cost to ratepayers in the province for electricity generated by others excluding OPG, he said, was 8.3 cents/kWh.
“The electricity generated from these two plants to be shutdown is less than half the price of the average of the other generators,” Fierro said. “This decision will drive rates up for all ratepayers.”
Fierro said the decision to shut down the generating stations will put over 100 people out of work at Lambton—located near Sarnia, Ont.—and over 250 people out of work at the Port Dover, Ont.-area Nanticoke plant.
“The loss of these well-paying full-time jobs will cause significant hardship to the local economy and drive up unemployment in communities already struggling,” Fierro said.
“The stations purchase supplies and services from the local community thus creating spinoff employment and income to the local communities which will not continue after the closure.”
The provincial government also announced the planned closure of two more coal-buring plants by the end of 2014.