Phasing-out Ontario’s gas-fired power plants

The greenhouse gas (GHG) pollution from Ontario’s gas-fired power plants will increase by more than 300% by 2030 and by 500% or more by 2040 as the province uses gas to replace aging nuclear plants and to meet growing demand for electricity from population growth and increased electrification (electric cars, home heating). If this occurs, Ontario will lose roughly 40% of the pollution reduction benefits it achieved by phasing-out its dirty coal plants.

Ontario’s Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO) is launching a public engagement process on how Ontario can reduce its greenhouse gas pollution by phasing out its gas-fired power plants rather than simply replacing aging nuclear plants with gas-fired plants. This is your chance to tell the IESO that we need to phase out gas by 2030 to help our climate and clear our air.

IESO outlines plans to look at a gas plant phase-out 

Ontario’s Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO) has released its plan for assessing how Ontario can phase-out its gas-fired power plants. It has come up with three scenarios it plans to examine over the next four months:

Scenario 1: Complete phase-out of gas by 2030 with a supply mix approach of new resources, in response to 26 city council resolutions calling for the gas plant phase-out.

Scenario 2: A market-based approach that examines the potential for higher gas prices to reduce pollution

Scenario 3: Reduce emissions by 2030 with a supply mix approach of new resources (e.g., carbon capture and storage).

In Ontario Clean Air Alliance’s response to IESO, the importance of pursuing a full phase out of gas-fired generation was stressed and the agency was called on to examine these key issues:

  1. How Ontario can return our gas plants’ pollution to their 2017 level ASAP, as per the request of 18 Ontario municipalities.
  2. How to achieve a complete gas plant phase-out by 2030 using a balanced combination of energy efficiency and demand response; wind and solar energy; and Quebec renewable electricity and storage resources.
  3. How we can consult with Hydro Quebec to obtain the best possible information about the reliability, operability, timing, cost and other issues that will need to be addressed if Ontario decides to use Quebec power and storage resources to help phase-out its gas plants.
  4. How a gas phase out can be supported by actions set out in municipal climate plans, including local energy efficiency and renewable energy investment opportunities.  
  5. How changes in the fairness and comprehensiveness of our carbon pricing regime could lead to much higher costs for gas-fired electricity generation. Ontario’s residential consumers pay carbon taxes with respect to 100% of the greenhouse gas pollution associated with their purchases of fossil gas for home heating and gasoline for their cars and trucks. But, as of Jan. 1, 2022, only 3% of our gas-fired power plants’ greenhouse gas pollution will be subject to the carbon tax. Exempting Ontario’s gas-fired power plants from carbon taxation on 97% of their pollution is economically irrational, unfair and politically unsustainable.  

Read OCA’s full submission to the IESO.

Earlier this week the International Energy Agency announced that we need to rapidly ramp down our use of fossil fuels and rapidly increase our use of renewable energy if we are serious about keeping global warming below 1.5 degrees. It is crystal clear that now is the time for Ontario to start seriously planning how to eliminate gas-fired electricity from its power system by 2030.

What you can do

If you haven’t already done so, please register for the IESO’s engagement webinar on Thursday May 27, at 1 p.m. by sending an email to: and plan to comment/ask questions/participate in this webinar. Following the webinar, please send in written comments. Deadline to submit comments is June 17th.

Photo credit: P199, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons