The Chronicle Journal
April 9, 2012
Carl Clutchey

Water power way to go: alliance 

A call for the phase-out of nuclear power in Ontario would bolster proven hydroelectric sources of electricity, which are a lot cheaper, says a Toronto-based advocacy group.

“We need to look carefully at other (power) options instead of simply leaping to repeat the mistakes of our past,” says the Ontario Clean Air Alliance.

Though putting more emphasis on water power could presumably mean tapping into existing and future hydroelectric sources in Northwestern Ontario, the alliance recommends that in the short term, the province should look at importing water power from Quebec.

The flow of low-cost, Quebec-generated electricity into Ontario could grow substantially using existing transmission lines between the two provinces, the alliance says.

Alliance research shows that the cost per kilowatt hour of doing that is 5.8 cents, compared to 8-37 cents for refurbishing existing nuclear plants or building new ones in Ontario.

The alliance pegs the cost of wind power at 11.5 cents.

“There is no reason that (Ontario’s) electricity system should be exempt from the kind of value-for-money efficiency (system) recommended in the Drummond report for all public services,” says the alliance.

“In fact, there are tremendous savings to be had by focusing on lower-cost, lower-risk supply options instead of continuing to artificially support the nuclear and coal industries.”

New wind and hydroelectric power projects are planned between Thunder Bay and Marathon, providing that a 230,000-volt transmission line is built between Thunder Bay and Wawa.

Some projects, like a 100-megawatt wind farm near Marathon, have been put on hold because of a lack of transmission capacity on the Thunder Bay-Wawa corridor.

“Ontario has paid a steep price for its fixation with costly and under-performing nuclear energy, including racking up more than $20 billion in debt — and we’ve still got the waste and decommissioning to deal with,” says the alliance.

The current volume of spent fuel bundles from Canada’ nuclear reactors could fill six hockey rinks up to the boards, says the Nuclear Waste Management Organization.

The NWMO is looking for a community to host an underground storage site for the bundles, each about the size of a fire log.

In Northwestern Ontario, Ear Falls, Ignace, Nipigon, Schreiber and Wawa have expressed interest in being considered a host site, which would bring hundreds of permanent jobs.