The conversion is the first of its kind in the province. The project is expected to create new economic opportunities for Ontario's forestry sector, which will provide the biomass fuel to the plant.
Demand for biomass pellets from the plant is expected to create or support about 200 jobs.
Government officials are hopeful that the converted plant will be able to deliver more than 200 megawatts of clean, renewable power, and can take the province a step closer to eliminating coal-fired electricity generation by the end of 2014.
Building a clean energy system and a culture of conservation is part of the Ontario government's plan to create and support jobs for Ontario families while ensuring we have the electricity we need to power our homes, schools, hospitals and the economy.
The conversion of the plant will begin later this year and is expected to be complete in 2014.
Over its life, biomass from wood pellets emits about 90 percent less greenhouse gases and less smog-causing pollutants than coal. Eliminating coal-fired electricity in Ontario is the single largest greenhouse gas reduction measure in North America.
Since 2003, Ontario has brought more than 10,000 megawatts of new and refurbished clean energy online--enough to power both Ottawa and Toronto.
THEY SAID IT:
"Our plan to transform our electricity system and ensure a sustainable clean energy program is working. Together we are building a clean energy system in Ontario that is spurring new investment, creating jobs and providing Ontarians with cleaner air, healthier communities and a brighter future."
Chris Bentley, Minister of Energy
"The conversion of Atikokan from dirty coal to biomass means we are reducing harmful emissions and building a modern, clean, reliable energy system. We'll keep energy jobs in the Town of Atikokan and create forestry jobs in northern Ontario while ensuring a cleaner, healthier Ontario for families and future generations."
Bill Mauro, MPP Thunder Bay-Atikokan