Provincial energy minister Dwight Duncan has directed the Ontario Power Authority (OPA) to proceed with its recommended 20-year electricity supply mix plan, which includes a significant increase in nuclear generation and renewables with a corresponding shift away from coal.

Under the terms of the plan, nuclear generation will be limited to 14,000 MW although the government has directed Ontario Power Generation (OPG) to begin a federal approvals process, including feasibility studies for refurbishing four units at the Pickering and Darlington sites. OPG has also been directed to begin the work needed for an environmental assessment for the construction of new units at an existing nuclear facility.

The plan also sets targets that aim to double energy efficiency to reduce electricity demand by 6,300 MW by 2025 and to double the amount of energy from renewables by 2025 to 15,700 MW.

Nonetheless, a recent Independent Electricity System Operator report indicates 2,500 – 3,000 MW of additional capacity is required to maintain system reliability, a situation which has forced the government to postpone plans to phase out coal-fired capacity and replace it with cleaner sources of energy. Adding to the difficulties of phasing out coal is the assumption that natural gas should only be used to meet peak demand in high efficiency applications.

Meanwhile, Canadian power utility Hydro Quebec has released details of its latest five-year plan which includes proposals to develop some 4,500MW of new hydro capacity in the province and boost wind capacity by some 4,000 MW.

Hydro Quebec further intends to boost its cross-border transmission capacity with an interconnection with the Ontario grid. In addition to hydro projects already under construction, the company said it will develop additional capacity on the Romaine and Petit Mecatina rivers.