The controversial power plant, which is expected to create 150 jobs during construction and is scheduled to be in service by the end of 2011, will be used during periods when electricity demand in the region is high and to support intermittent energy sources such as wind and solar.
A joint venture called York Energy Centre LP will build the plant on Dufferin St. in the Township of King, and at 393 megawatts the facility will be slightly larger than the community expected enough to power 50,000 homes.
"This simple-cycle, natural gas plant addresses the urgent need for clean, reliable and secure power in one of the fastest-growing regions in Ontario," said the Ontario Power Authority in a statement. "It will help Ontario close down coal-fired generation by 2014."
The province will purchase electricity from the plant through a 20-year power purchase contract with York Energy Centre, which was the winning bidder out of six proposals.
The Ontario Clean Air Alliance and some local groups opposed the plant, arguing that a much smaller facility could be built if more emphasis in the area was placed on conservation, energy efficiency and the deployment of renewable-energy projects.
Ongoing operation of the plant after construction will require seven full-time employees.