The cessation of coal-fired power plants in Ontario: Costs, benefits, and alternatives


  • Abdeali H. Saherwala


During the 1960s, the desire to provide cheap electricity for industrialization in Southern Ontario, when the economy was booming from post-war development, led Ontario to build six coal-fired power plants; however, as the economy changed and Ontario began to deindustrialize in the 1980s, the province was producing an excess of electricity, thus leading to a fall in electricity prices. This drop led to the financial collapse and privatization of Ontario Hydro. In 2001, former Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty proposed an ambitious plan to close all six coal-fired power plants in Ontario, and completely shift Ontario’s electricity industry toward zero-carbon generation. This study explores in depth whether the closure of all coal-fired power plants in Ontario meets the definition of energy sustainability proposed by Mark Jaccard, and how the Government of Ontario was successful in closing all coal-fired plants. It explores the costs and benefits of closing these plants by analyzing future health-care costs caused by pollution, and environmental costs such as smog days in summer; furthermore, this paper discusses how the Government of Ontario replaced the electricity produced by coal-fired power plants by investing in nuclear energy, increasing capacity of hydroelectricity, and increasing investment in renewable energy such as wind. Finally, the author weighs the negative upstream and downstream effects of electricity generation from alternatives in Ontario, such as nuclear and hydropower, to discern whether closing coal-fired plants was financially and environmentally feasible. After analysis, the author concludes that closing all coal-fired power plants in Ontario led to energy sustainability, saved the Government of Ontario billions in health-care costs, and aided Ontario in mitigating climate change.




How to Cite

Saherwala, A. H. (2021). The cessation of coal-fired power plants in Ontario: Costs, benefits, and alternatives. Revue YOUR Review (York Online Undergraduate Research), 8. Retrieved from



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