News / Edmonton

Coal plant closures will improve air quality in Edmonton

City air set for "huge impact" as nearby plants get mothballed.

Environment Minister Shannon Phillips and Health Minister Sarah Hoffman at a press conference Monday pushing the health benefits of phasing out coal.

Ryan Tumilty / Metro

Environment Minister Shannon Phillips and Health Minister Sarah Hoffman at a press conference Monday pushing the health benefits of phasing out coal.

Doctors say Alberta’s move to close coal-fired electricity plants by 2020 will help everyone breathe a little easier, especially in Edmonton.

Dr. Joe Vipond with the Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment, who works in a Calgary emergency room, said phasing out the coal plants will pay off for the capital's air quality.

“Twelve of them are directly east of Edmonton,” Vipond said of the plants. “We can really make a huge impact.”

Existing regulations would already have led to 12 of the province’s 18 coal plants closing by 2030, but the province's new rules will mothball the remaining six, four of which are near the city.

Keephills 3, a generation station about 75 kilometres from Edmonton, would have been the last to close in 2061.

Vipond said the plants account for one third of the province’s sulphur dioxide emissions and 10 per cent of the nitrous oxide in the air.

He said when one of the major generators was offline for technical reasons in 2013, the air got cleaner.

“We know there was a drop in some of the pollutants that were affecting Edmonton,” he said.

Health Minister Sarah Hoffman said along with the climate and health benefits, there’s a financial benefit to phasing out coal.

“It costs $300 million in healthcare costs each and every year. It cause 700 emergency room visits every year. It’s time for Albertans to move to cleaner sources of electricity,” she said.

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