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.



Advertisements

Latest Tech & Science News

  • New Hampshire seeks answers behind oyster outbreaks

    Tech & Science CTV News
    DURHAM, N.H. -- For the past 25 years, researcher Stephen Jones has tried to understand the threat that bacteria may pose to oysters in New Hampshire's Great Bay estuary. He often couldn't get funding to study the problem. Source
  • Oldest zoo gorilla doing well after biopsy before birthday

    Tech & Science CTV News
    POWELL, Ohio - The oldest known gorilla living in a zoo is doing well after a surgical biopsy ahead of her 60th birthday on Dec. 22. The Columbus Zoo and Aquarium said Saturday that veterinarians successfully removed a mass under the gorilla's arm that recently started causing her discomfort. Source
  • Friendly moose befriends 2 cows on Vermont farm

    Tech & Science CTV News
    SHELDON, Vt. -- A Vermont couple has chased off a moose that appeared to be bonding with their two cows on a Sheldon farm because they didn't want it to get injured, stuck in their barn or damage their fences. Source
  • Scientists gathering in Winnipeg to focus on 'complex' changing Arctic climate

    Tech & Science CBC News
    The largest single gathering of scientists focused on the rapidly changing Arctic gets underway in Winnipeg on Monday. ArcticNet 2016 will see 800 scientists from across the country gather at the RBC Convention Centre to present research on a wide array of subjects impacting the health of the biology and the physical systems of the Arctic. Source
  • Apple founder street name shakes Paris suburb to the core

    Tech & Science CTV News
    He changed technology and how the world communicates. Now, five years after he died, Apple founder Steve Jobs may be remembered in another way -- on a Paris street. "Rue Steve Jobs" is among names shortlisted for one of the new roads in the French capital's southeastern 13th arrondissement that will lead to a new incubator for hi-tech start-ups. Source
  • A sound investment for Lamborghini fans

    Tech & Science CTV News
    The Ixoost EsaVox Speaker system is inspired by a Lamborghini's quad exhaust and ventilation set up and comes with the automotive marque's seal of approval. Like the most exclusive and most extreme cars in production, the Ixoost EsaVox is hand crafted in Italy. Source
  • A planet's worth of human-made things has been weighed

    Tech & Science CBC News
    A new report has calculated the total mass of all the technology humans have produced, everything from buildings to cars and computers, and found it is an astounding 30 trillion tons. That is more than the total amount of living matter on Earth. Source
  • Is chocolate really good for you? UBC scientists make new tool to measure antioxidants

    Tech & Science CBC News
    Every chocolate lover wants the headlines about antioxidants in chocolate to be true. And, for better or for worse, determining just how much of the disease-fighting molecules are contained in this popular treat may be getting a little easier. Source
  • Canadian researchers are leading the way to Mars

    Tech & Science CBC News
    When humans one day set foot on Mars, Canadians will have contributed a lot of science to having made that happen. As Canadians, we're not known for bragging, but there are many Canadian scientists and engineers who have contributed greatly to our understanding of Mars and who are paving the way for humans to one day settle on its dusty surface. Source
  • Canadian scientists help prepare a path to Mars

    Tech & Science CBC News
    If humans one day set foot on Mars, Canadians will have contributed to the science that helped make it possible. As Canadians, we're not known for bragging, but there are many Canadian scientists and engineers who have contributed greatly to our understanding of Mars and who are preparing the path for humans to one day settle on its dusty surface. Source