Toronto Star
December 18, 2013
John Spears

Petition aims at OPG rate increase
The Ontario Clean Air Alliance objects to application to raise base rate for nuclear output. 

A clean air lobby group has launched a petition against Ontario Power Generation’s application for a rate increase.
The application to the Ontario Energy Board, filed earlier this fall, would increase the base rate OPG is paid for its nuclear output by 30 per cent as of Jan. 1
That’s excessive, the Ontario Clean Air Alliance argues in an online petition.
The petition, addressed to the leaders of all political parties at Queen’s Park, argues that Ontario should be importing surplus hydro power from Quebec instead of pouring more money into its nuclear fleet.
OPG’s application covers the rates it is paid for output from its nuclear reactors and big hydro stations, which are regulated by the Ontario Energy Board (OEB).
Privately owned generators don’t face OEB scrutiny. They negotiate contracts with the Ontario Power Authority, or sell into the wholesale market, instead of going before the energy board.
OPG argues that its rates have not changed since 2008.
“If OPG was granted our full request, it would mean a four per cent increase on the total consumer bill,” the company says. That’s an increase of $5.36 a month.
The increased rate would still hold OPG’s rates below the average received by other generators, the company says.
It says the money is needed for several reasons:
  • Recovering the $1.6 billion cost of the Niagara Tunnel, completed this year, which increases the output of the Sir Adam Beck generating station at Queenston;
  • Paying for management of nuclear waste and de-commissioning nuclear stations.
  • Paying for the refurbishment of the Darlington nuclear station, which is due to get under way in 2016. That’s a multi-year project that will reduce output from the plant.
OPG says it needs higher rates during the construction period because “our costs need to be borne over a smaller amount of production while we accomplish this work.”
The Darlington re-fit is the target of the petition.
“The government should negotiate a long-term contract for safer and cleaner water power from Quebec that will cost less than half of what power from OPG’s re-built Darlington reactors will cost,” it states.
Jack Gibbons of the clean air alliance said in an interview that power from the refurbished Darlington plant will cost 8.6 cents a kilowatt hour. Meanwhile, Quebec Hydro has exported power for 4.1 cents a kilowatt hour, he said.
Gibbons said the petition is being launched because the government, as OPG’s shareholder, is the key to blocking the Darlington project.
“It’s a decision that can only be made by Premier Wynne,” he said. “We have to go to the political level to win this.”
“By cancelling the project and importing low-cost power from Quebec she can dramatically lower our energy bill.”
Neal Kelly, a spokesman for OPG, said the energy board is the forum to argue the merits of the application.
The clean air alliance is just one intervener that will present “a wide variety of views” at the board, he said.
The hearing will allow the public to hear “the full picture versus one perspective by this one advocate,” he said.
OPG was harshly criticized last week by the province’s auditor-general for letting its executive ranks swell, and for operating a pension plan that’s far more costly than pensions in the public service.