Nuclear plant decision near; Bruce Power CEO Says We Could Hear Within Three Months
Submitted by OCAA on Wed, 03/12/2008 - 04:30.
The president and CEO of Bruce Power says the construction of a nuclear generating station in the Nanticoke Industrial Park is very much within the realm of possibility.
Yesterday, Duncan Hawthorne said Norfolk and Haldimand will learn shortly whether this part of Ontario is in the running for a nuclear reactor.
"If there's a shot for Nanticoke, it's going to happen in 2008," Hawthorne told a gathering of the Simcoe & District Probus Club. "It's going to happen soon because nuclear plants take so long to plan. If you haven't heard within three months that Nanticoke has a shot, I don't think it's going to happen."
Nuclear reactors produce half of Ontario's electricity. The provincial government will keep their share of production at this level into the future. This will require upgrades to existing reactors and construction of new ones.
When the McGuinty government announced the $40-billion, long-range plan last year, the Ministry of Energy said new capacity would be built at the site of existing reactors.
However, Hawthorne isn't convinced this can be done. He told Probus members
Hawthorne also confirmed that the Ontario power grid needs a large producer of electricity in Nanticoke to balance power flows throughout the system. The Bruce nuclear facility in the west, the Darlington nuclear station in the east and the Nanticoke Generating Station in the centre were situated geographically for this purpose. The millions invested in transmission infrastructure in the area of the Nanticoke Generating Station also makes the industrial park an attractive location for new investment.
"This province's power infrastructure cannot stand the loss of a power source as important as Nanticoke's," Hawthorne said.
Hawthorne added that decisions on the location of new reactors are imminent. The Ministry of Energy invited proposals for the construction of new stations on Friday. Bruce Power is one of the agencies advising the province on the way forward.
Bruce Power will help the province select the provider of new reactors. Companies invited to file proposals include AREVA NP, which is based in France, Atomic Energy of Canada, GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy and Westinghouse Electric Company, both of which are based in the United States.
"Our priority is a fair, transparent, competitive process that will assure Ontarians we will get the best deal on clean, affordable and reliable electricity to light their homes and power the economy for decades to come," Minister of Energy Gerry Phillips said in a release. "Building replacement nuclear facilities will bring economic benefits to Ontario. It will help Ontario meet its future energy needs, keep prices stable, cut our carbon footprint and reduce greenhouse gas emissions."
Hawthorne said decisions affecting Ontario's nuclear future will be finalized by the end of December. Even then, it will take at least three years to obtain all regulatory approvals.
While the province would prefer to invest at the site of existing reactors, Hawthorne noted that the Ministry of Energy is prepared to consider locations where there is "a willing host." Last year, Norfolk and Haldimand councils approved resolutions asking the province to consider this part of Ontario as a possible location for a nuclear station.
Following Hawthorne's presentation, Probus treasurer Jay McKiee said Haldimand and Norfolk councils should reiterate their support for the nuclear option. Something needs to happen in Nanticoke, McKiee said, given the huge investment in electrical infrastructure already there.
"That transmission line would be millions to replace," he said. "Come on -- let's use some common sense here."
Due to environmental concerns, the McGuinty government plans to close the coal-fired Nanticoke Generating Station by 2014. At 4,000 megawatts, the plant is a key supplier of electricity in Ontario, especially during peak periods in summer and winter.