In early June in Toronto, weeks before summer’s official start date, we’d already seen heat warnings and air quality alerts due to the blowing smoke from wildfires in Quebec and Ontario. According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, these next few years are critical to addressing the climate crisis. To limit global warming to around 1.5 C, greenhouse gas emissions must be reduced 43 per cent by the year 2030. This means we need to transition to clean energy now, but Doug Ford is moving in the opposite direction.

Ontario’s premier is pushing forward on his plan to increase gas-fired electricity production in the province despite the environmental, health and financial risks and the lack of public approval, setting Ontario on a collision course with provincial and federal climate targets.

The plan is to increase gas plant electricity production in six plants across the province, including the Portlands Gas Plant in Toronto’s east end. Under the plan, Ontario will experience the biggest increase in gas-fired power supply in more than a decade.

According to the provincial agency that manages the grid, the Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO), only four per cent of Ontario’s power supply currently comes from gas- and oil-fired power. Under this plan, that will rise to nearly 27 per cent by 2043.

This plan poses a significant challenge to Ontario’s ability to meet its climate target of reducing emissions by 30 per cent below 2005 levels by 2030, as well as achieving the federal goal to reach a zero-carbon electricity grid by 2035. The Ford government’s plan to increase gas-fired electricity production will, in fact, increase carbon emissions by a projected 600 per cent by 2040 compared to 2017.

Gas-fired electricity plants come with significant health risks — they produce damaging air pollutants like nitrogen dioxide (NO2) and particulate matter.

These pollutants are particularly harmful to the elderly, pregnant people, young children and those with underlying health conditions. Winds in Toronto predominantly come from the southwest, resulting in approximately 1,000 tonnes of nitrogen oxides blowing over Scarborough annually from the Portlands plant.

In addition to health risks, this plan comes with financial risks for Ontarians. The federal government is drafting the Clean Electricity Regulations (CER), a climate policy which seeks to achieve a zero-carbon electricity grid by 2035.

At the same time, Ford is finalizing expensive contracts with these gas plants. If the federal government ends up forcing the shutdown of these plants under the CER, Ontario taxpayers will be left on the hook to keep paying for the contracts, whether the plants continue to function or not.

Ontario Premier @fordnation is pushing forward on his plan to increase gas-fired electricity production despite the environmental, health and financial risks and the lack of public approval, writes Mika Gang @ForOurKidsTO #onpoli #ClimateEmergency

As wildfire smoke pollutes the air we breathe, the answer is clear — we need to act now. Pushing back against Ford’s plan is possible by contacting our MPPs and, for those living in one of the areas affected by gas plant expansion, contact your city councillor.

An upcoming town hall on July 12 gives Toronto residents the opportunity to "Say No to the Expansion of Portlands Gas Plant."

We can hold our politicians accountable and fight for a healthy planet for future generations.

Mika Gang is an elementary school teacher with the Toronto District School Board.

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We simply must unite or work individually to stop Ford's gas power plant plans. The Ontario Clean Air Alliance has a plan in place that the seemingly clueless Ford PC govt. can easily follow if hey need a road map to renewable energy instead of gas power plants. Stop the insanity now Ford, you are already on very shaky ground with your Greenbelt plans.

OCAA is one of the main reason Ontario has so many gas plants: they got their start supporting natural gas for "clean air" vs coal. There "plans", like shutting down nuclear, will increase natural gas generation.

Solar. PV and wind turbines combined with batteries are now the cheapest option.
Agrivoltaics can benefit the farmers and soil restoration as well.
The fossil fuel lobby and the nuclear lobby that are now influencing Ford’s decisions will lock us in to high energy prices for decades and increase climate disasters.
Sam Clemann

Boot the PC Bums (welfare) out of office before they throw us into the trash heap of gigantic government malfeasance. and culpable manslaughter.

As someone who put electricity onto the grid for 32 years, folks still don't understand the relationship between natural gas and intermittent sources of production like wind and solar. Without storage for intermittent sources, natural gas is used to synchronize the output to the grid. The grid is not a battery; energy generation much match demand or the grid collapses. Wind and solar output cannot be controlled unless it is stored first to be released as required. Demanding more wind and solar without a way to store that energy is the same as demanding more natural gas turbines.

Hydro power from Quebec can be the battery that is required to balance the grid when using wind and solar as the main energy source. As Michael Luce comments above, the Ontario Clean Air Alliance has a plan for a sustainable clean and cheaper electrical power system and it includes more hydro power from Quebec. Eventually a massive build out of wind and solar will enable us to get rid of nuclear, the most expensive and dangerous source of power. There is absolutely no doubt that we have to end using fossil fuels. This includes changing all heating systems to electric cold weather (-30C) air source heat pumps (which luckily just recently have been invented and come on the market) or geothermal heat pumps.

I agree with much of this, but taking hydro out of its main role as baseload supply is crazy. Using Quebec hydropower to fill, in the supply shortages with and solar in Ontario is also nuts.
First, the role of any Quebec surplus in getting coal offline is far more important and valuable.
Second, renewables are costly at the system level. At peak wing and sun times, they are fairly cheap, but the wasting reliable baseload to fill in the 75-80% of the time they are not producing does not make sense. You have to include the cost of that amount of baseload at full cost. It is true that that is one of the cheapest ways to get variable power, but it isn't really cheap for the system.
Third, nuclear is a better solution, Where wind and solar struggle with providing enough power when it is needed, nuclear struggles with providing too much power when it is not needed. The economics are very different.
The surplus nuclear power can be used to produce hydrogen, helping to replace fossil fuels in other parts of the system and reducing the real cost of electric power. Power storage is not a cost for nuclear, as it is for renewables, it is a benefit that will soon be exploited.
The other cost of nuclear that can be converted to a benefit is the excess heat generated (as with fossil fuel generation). So far society has been happy sending the surplus heat in the steam up the chimney. It becomes an enormous asset in an energy-constrained society. And it has now begun to be used for industrial heat in the chemical industry.
Finally, nuclear power is far less materials-, energy-, and land-intensive than renewables. It is a superior environmental choice when we are faced with severe materials shortages and have to try to use less land.
Bad economics leads to bad environmental policy

Nobody said they would take out Hydro.
The exchange with Quebec could be energy neutral.
Quebec has no coal fired power generation. Quebec’s electric power comes from 94% Hydro, 5% wind, .7% biofuels and a fraction of a percent from ff for remote regions. (Note that the price per kWh in Quebec is only halve of what it is in Ontario. Clue: they have no Nuclear power stations.)
Wind, solar and batteries are now the cheapest source of energy.
2 to 3 times cheaper than nuclear.
Three separate and comprehensive studies have come to the same conclusion and all agree that new Nuclear is not required.
1. Tesla Master Plan Part 3
2. RethinkX
3. Mark Z. Jacobson: 100% clean energy and storage for everything.

The ff interest loves promoters of nuclear power, because not being able to compete with renewables and electrification of everything they are faced with trillions of $’s in stranded assets. They know new nuclear takes 10 to 15 years to complete and come on line, getting people to believe that nuclear will be the answer will help them slow down the transition to EV’s, electric heat pumps, solar wind and batteries.
Some HVDC transmission lines will be require among many different kind of storage systems including pumped Hydro.

The idea of using people's car batteries to supply the grid at peak (afternoons) means people will not have a charge to drive home and who is going to replace those batteries as they get cycled out? The customer?

Whatever happened to conservation?

No it can't. 1. They have contracts with the states. 2. It will move the grid's virtual centre and create instability. The OCAA is aware of this but keep repeating the nonsense anyway

The notion that renewables will be sufficient to eliminate hydrocarbons is wrong. It will take nuclear power on a large scale. As someone who has. been a Green candidate multiple times I think it is time that we come to terms with the realities that we face. I suggest the author start looking at sources like
Dr. David Robinson, Economist and Green