OPG announces $12.8B refurbishment of Darlington nuclear reactors

TORONTO -- Ontario Power Generation announced plans Monday to start a $12.8 billion refurbishment of the Darlington nuclear power station this fall and to squeeze four more years out of the aging reactors at its Pickering generating station.

See Full Article

Nuclear reactors at both generating stations -- situated east of Toronto on Lake Ontario -- were originally scheduled to be decommissioned in 2020, but the Liberal cabinet decided to keep operating two units at Pickering until 2022, and the other four until 2024. The decision still needs approval from the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission.

Energy Minister Bob Chiarelli said extending the life of the Pickering nuclear units will save the province about $600 million, which will help keep increases in electricity rates to a "modest, acceptable" level.

"Prices will not go down in absolute terms in most, if not all, jurisdictions in North America, if not the world," he said.

The Darlington project will extend the life of its four reactors by another 30 years.

Cabinet approved the refurbishment of one reactor starting this fall, but OPG will have to get approval for each of the three other units as they too are rebuilt.

Those cabinet approvals give the government options, or "off ramps," to halt the refurbishment project if it doesn't like the way things are progressing or if innovations produce cheaper, more efficient ways of generating electricity, added Chiarelli.

"The province has the discretion automatically for off ramps, and there are a number of occasions when they are for cause, which means they're not on time, they're not on budget and we don't have confidence moving forward," he said.

The Darlington budget includes a $1.7 billion contingency fund in case of cost-overruns on the $4.5 billion portion of the project done inside the reactor itself -- the nuclear science work deemed as "subject to execution risk" -- versus the fixed contracts for the majority of the supporting infrastructure.

OPG president and CEO Jeff Lyash said the government-owned utility has been preparing for the Darlington refurbishment since 2009.

"We are ready to go, and we'll deliver the job safely, at the highest level of quality, on time and on budget," said Lyash.

OPG estimates it would need between 7.2-to-8.1-cents-per-kilowatt-hour to recover the total cost of the refurbishment, below current averages of 9.2 cents-per-kwh, but more than the 6.57-to-7.7-cents-a-kwh privately owned Bruce Power will be paid.

Bruce announced plans last month for a $13 billion refurbishment of six reactors at the generating station it operates under contract in Kincardine, starting in 2020 -- four years later than originally planned -- but the company assumed all risks of overruns.

Ontario's Progressive Conservatives said it makes sense to extend the life of the Pickering while Darlington is being rebuilt, but they want the government to keep a close eye on costs so ratepayers aren't on the hook for overruns.

"The responsibility is incumbent upon the province to ensure that there are checks and balances and proper oversight to ensure that the refurbishments do come in on budget," said PC energy critic John Yakabuski.

The New Democrats want an independent review of the Darlington refurbishment.

"This government has not provided a proper business case that clearly and transparently examines the costs, benefits and risks of this project," said NDP energy critic Peter Tabuns.

Green Party of Ontario Leader Mike Schreiner called it "outrageously irresponsible" for the Liberals to commit to rebuilding nuclear plants without an independent public review on costs and alternatives such as importing more power from Quebec.

Premier Kathleen Wynne said Ontario is looking at importing more electricity from Quebec and Manitoba, but made it clear she wants to keep generating about half of the province's electricity from nuclear power.

"We don't have any plans to move away from nuclear as our baseload at this point," she said. "It's always between 40 and 50 per cent."

Chiarelli said it's not economically feasible for Ontario to replace the power generated by Darlington with electricity imported from Quebec because it would require billions of dollars in upgrades to transmission lines and transformer stations.

"It's not affordable because the amount of infrastructure required makes it absolutely prohibitive to move forward with it," he said.


Latest Tech & Science News

  • Tesla, Mozilla take a Facebook pause

    Tech & Science CTV News
    Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla Motors Inc., talks about the Model X car at the company's headquarters, in Fremont, Calif. on Sept. 29, 2015. (AP photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez) Source
  • 2 Americans, 1 Russian dock with International Space Station

    Tech & Science CTV News
    Photos Source
  • Cyprus' British base police say 'huge' drop in bird trapping

    Tech & Science CTV News
    DHEKELIA, Cyprus -- Authorities at British military bases in Cyprus say a yearlong crackdown on illegal bird poaching has resulted in a "huge" drop in the number of poachers operating inside the bases' territory. They also point to a 70 per cent reduction in the trapping of blackcaps over the same period. Source
  • Conservation group concerned about decline in capelin abundance in N.L

    Tech & Science CTV News
    ST. JOHN'S, N.L. - A national conservation organization is expressing concerns about what it says is a 70 per cent decline in capelin abundance over the last two years in Newfoundland and Labrador. A news release from WWF Canada says that while environmental factors are driving the decline, it cannot rule out fishing as another factor. Source
  • NASA's Mars rover Curiosity marks 2,000th day on red planet

    Tech & Science CTV News
    CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. -- NASA's Mars rover Curiosity has now marked 2,000 days on the red planet. That's 2,000 days by Martian standards. A Martian sol, or solar day, is equivalent to 24 hours, 39 minutes and 35 seconds. Source
  • Asia could run out of fish by 2048, UN reports

    Tech & Science CBC News
    Earth is losing plants, animals and clean water at a dramatic rate, according to four new United Nations scientific reports on biodiversity. Scientists meeting in Colombia issued four regional reports Friday on how well animal and plants are doing in the Americas; Europe and Central Asia; Africa; and the Asia-Pacific area. Source
  • Biggest pterosaur ever found was as tall as a giraffe

    Tech & Science CBC News
    A remarkable flying reptile that was as tall as a giraffe, weighed half a tonne and had a longer wingspan than a Cessna Skyhawk plane has been put on display at a museum in Germany. The bones of the powerful pterosaur, an ancient flying reptile closely related to dinosaurs, are now on display at the Altmuehltal Dinosaur Museum in Germany as part of its Emperors of the Skies exhibit. Source
  • U.S. government charges Iranians for international cyber theft

    Tech & Science CBC News
    The Trump administration in the United States on Friday charged nine Iranians and an Iranian company with attempting to hack into hundreds of U.S. and international universities, dozens of companies and parts of the U.S. government on behalf of the Iranian government. Source
  • Israeli firm says it can turn garbage into bio-based plastic

    Tech & Science CTV News
    KIBBUTZ ZEELIM, Israel -- Hawks, vultures and storks circle overhead as Christopher Sveen points at the heap of refuse rotting in the desert heat. "This is the mine of the future," he beams. Sveen is chief sustainability officer at UBQ, an Israeli company that has patented a process to convert household trash, diverting waste from landfills into reusable bio-based plastic. Source
  • Scientists unravel mystery of Chilean 'alien mummy'

    Tech & Science CTV News
    It was like nothing anyone had ever seen: a tiny, desiccated creature found behind a church in an abandoned desert town in Chile. With a huge, misshapen skull that ended in a point and slanted eye sockets, it looked like an alien. Source