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Ontario Says New Study Confirms Benefits of Replacing Coal-Fired Plants

An independent study released Wednesday shows that replacing Ontario's coal-fired electricity generation will reduce health and environmental costs for the province, Ontario Energy Minister Dwight Duncan said.

According to the province's energy ministry, the study found a relationship between increased air pollution due to coal-fired electricity generation and up to 668 premature deaths, 928 hospital admissions, 1,100 emergency room visits and 333,660 minor illnesses such as headaches, coughing and other respiratory symptoms, per year.

The study compared the financial, health and environmental costs of four different scenarios of electricity generation in Ontario. With an annual cost of C$4.4 billion, coal-fired electricity generation is significantly more expensive than the other options considered, the study found.

"Determining the health damages from existing coal-fired generation is a complex task, because air pollution comes from many other sources, such as vehicle emissions and trans-boundary sources," said Peter Victor, one of the authors of the study. "But our rigorous analysis of health and environmental impacts makes a strong case for replacing coal-fired generation in the province, spelling out the high costs of staying with the status quo."

The study concludes that the lowest cost scenario for Ontario's electricity future is a combination of refurbished nuclear and new natural gas generation. Including health and environmental impacts, this option would cost C$1.9 billion annually, which is less than half the annual cost of existing coal generation.

The study was undertaken by DSS Management Consultants Inc., RWDI Air Inc. and Peter Victor, professor and the former dean in the faculty of environmental studies at York University, experts in emissions modeling and cost benefit analysis.

The complete study is available on the Ministry of Energy's website at www.energy.gov.on.ca

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