April 3, 2006

High Cost Power

In its Supply Mix Advice Report, the Ontario Power Authority (OPA) asserts that nuclear power is an economical option to meet our electricity needs.  But when we asked the OPA to re-crunch the numbers using actual nuclear costs and performance rates rather than the highly optimistic assumptions used by the agency in its initial calculations, even we were shocked by the soaring cost of nuclear power.

For example, when we substituted the required rate of return on capital that CIBC World Markets stated would be required for Bruce Power’s nuclear restart project in place of the OPA’s unrealistically low estimates, the cost of nuclear power jumped to 9.7 to 11.9 cents per kWh, 39-70% higher than the OPA’s high-end estimate for the cost of power from a combined cycle natural gas generator.

But that’s just the tip of the iceberg.  When we assumed that the cost of a new nuclear unit would be more in line with the actual cost of constructing the Darlington Nuclear Station (the last nuclear plant built in Ontario); that its capacity utilization rate would match the most recent performance of Ontario’s nuclear fleet (65%); and CIBC’s required rate of return on capital estimates, new nuclear came out with a whopping cost of 20.9 cents per kWh.

You can buy a lot of wind turbines, efficiency increases and combined heat and power generation for 20.9 cents per kWh.  This is 3 times the cost for power from a combined cycle gas plant and 2.5 times the cost of power from the eight wind and one hydro projects contracted by the OPA in 2005.

It is direct evidence that investing in nuclear power will be so costly that there will be nothing but crumbs left for other more viable initiatives.  In essence, pouring billions into new nuclear power would be the equivalent of pouring billions into public transit while continuing to allow unchecked urban sprawl – it’s a recipe that simply doesn’t work.

For full details of our analysis, please see our new fact sheet, High Cost Energy: The economics of nuclear power, on our website at www.cleanairalliance.org.

Please pass this message on to your friends.

Thank you

Jessica Fracassi
Communications & Membership Manager
Ontario Clean Air Alliance
402-625 Church St, Toronto M4Y 2G1
Phone: 416-926-1907 ext. 245
Fax: 416-926-1601
Email: info@cleanair.web.ca
Website: www.cleanairalliance.org