Sudbury Star
November 23, 2016
Jack Gibbons

Sudbury letter: Drop nuclear, get power from Quebec 

Contrary to Energy Minister’s Thibeault’s assertions, nuclear power is unreliable and high-cost (Ontario needs nuclear power, Oct. 31).

In 1998, seven of our nuclear reactors were unexpectedly shut down for safety reasons. All of these reactors were shut down for at least five years. Two are still shut down. As a result, we had to increase the output of our dirty coal plants by 120 per cent to keep our lights on.

Now that the coal plants have been shut down, our nuclear reactors are backed-up by gas plants. Since it commenced operation in the 1990s, the Darlington Nuclear Station has been out of service for repairs or maintenance during one hour out of every six. When Darlington is out of service, Ontario cranks up its greenhouse gas spewing gas plants to keep our lights on. So much for nuclear as a climate change saviour.

Ontario Power Generation (OPG) is now seeking permission from the Ontario Energy Board to increase the price of its nuclear electricity by 180 per cent to pay for the continued operation of its money-losing Pickering Nuclear Station and to rebuild the aging and outdated Darlington Nuclear Station.

Specifically, OPG is seeking to raise the price of its nuclear electricity from 5.9 to 16.8 cents per kWh. This is what the minister refers to as “a price that can’t be beat” — which makes you wonder how hard he has looked at alternatives, such as water power imports from Quebec (even Ontario wind power is cheaper).

Ontario just signed a modest deal with Quebec to import up to two terawatt hours of electricity per year from Quebec at a cost of 5 cents per kWh. This is barely 10 per cent of what we could be importing using our existing transmission infrastructure. This is power at a price that truly can’t be beat. Why is the minister handing out billions to bloated nuclear projects instead of making the smart choice that will lower our power bills — making an expanded deal with Quebec?

Jack Gibbons
Chair, Ontario Clean Air Alliance