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CAE Alliance

Electricity plays a vital role in our day-to-day lives. It powers our homes, industries, hospitals and,in fact, our entire economy. The modern electricity industry began in the 1880s. It evolved from gas and electric commercial and street lighting systems. Thomas Edison's Pearl Street electricity generating station, which opened Sept. 4, 1882, in New York City, was the first to introduce the modern electric utility system to the world. Within a decade, commercial coal and steam-generated electricity stations were supplying power for domestic and public lighting in communities across Canada.

Now, the electricity sector in Canada is a $27 billion business, based on revenue, directly employing more than 80,000 people and representing approximately 3 per cent of our gross domestic product. Total assets for the sector are estimated at $135 billion.

In 1997, Canada's total electricity production ranked fifth in the world (behind the US, Japan, China and Russia), with a total production of 537 Terawatt hours or 4.1 per cent of the world's total. Canada's per capita electricity consumption ranked third in the world in 1995 at 17,047 kilowatt hour.

The electricity industry is comprised of three key components: generation (making electricity), transmission (moving electricity across high-voltage lines from generating plants to local communities), and distribution (moving power to individual customers).

Most Canadian electricity generation is hydroelectric; electricity produced from the energy of flowing water. Almost half of Canada's hydroelectric capacity is found in the province of Quebec.

Nuclear power is generated in Ontario, Quebec and New Brunswick, with the vast majority (90 per cent) in Ontario.  

Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Manitoba also produce electricity with coal. Most oil-fired generation is found in the Maritimes with the majority of natural gas-fired generation to be found in Ontario.

The electrical transmission network in Canada has evolved from a simple system designed to serve local customers to a highly complex interconnected system. There are more than 160,000 kilometres of transmission wire in Canada.

The electricity distribution system is the last major component of the system and perhaps the most visible to the average consumer. The distribution system is the network of wires that takes power from the substation (part of the transmission system) and delivers it to our homes and businesses. These are the wires we see on our streets.

The Canadian Clean Power Coalition is an association of responsible, leading Canadian coal and coal-fired electricity producers. Our aim is to secure a future for coal-fired electricity generation, within the context of Canada's multi-fuelled electricity industry, by proactively addressing environmental issues with governments and our stakeholders.

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