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Ontario to indefinitely defer new Darlington nuclear reactors: energy plan

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Ontario to indefinitely defer new Darlington nuclear reactors: energy plan

Highlights

Ontario will indefinitely defer construction of two new nuclear power reactors at Ontario Power Generation's Darlington site; back away from firm plans to refurbish operating units at Darlington and Bruce Power's Bruce A site; and may order the shutdown of OPG's six-unit Pickering plant prior to the units' scheduled 2020 closing date, the provincial government said in a long-term energy plan issued late Monday.

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The province, which owns OPG, said that advances in energy conservation, enhanced efficiency and a slowdown in electricity demand growth have prompted it to revise a 2010 long-term energy plan that called for building two new reactors at Darlington, as well as refurbishment of 10 units combined at that station and at Bruce A.

In late June, Candu Energy and Westinghouse submitted competing bids to OPG to build two reactors at Darlington, a year after the utility requested these companies bid on the project.

"This represents up to $15 billion in capital investments that are not currently required," the plan said.


"The decision to defer new nuclear capacity helps manage electricity costs by making large investments only when they are needed," it said. The plan did not say when a decision would be made on refurbishment of three other Darlington units and four Bruce A units. The plan projected nuclear's share of Ontario's electricity production would decline from about 60% this year to around 40% in 2032. During the same period, the plan projects that electricity production by wind, solar and bioenergy would increase from 5% to 13% and that electricity conservation measures would equate to 5% of electricity production this year and 16% in 2032.

"Ontario continues to have the option to build new nuclear reactors in the future," the plan said.

The plan specified that Darlington 2 and Bruce A unit 4 refurbishment would begin in 2016, and did not say when a decision would be made on refurbishment of three other Darlington units and five other Bruce A units.

"Final commitments on subsequent refurbishments will take into account the performance of the initial refurbishments with respect to budget and schedule by establishing appropriate off-ramps" that would permit the government to cancel additional refurbishments, it said.

CANDU ENERGY UPBEAT ON FUTURE FOR NUCLEAR IN PROVINCE

"Candu Energy remains confident that new nuclear power remains a viable, clean energy option and that Ontario will invest in new CANDU reactors when the energy demand increases," the company said in a Monday statement.

"Refurbishing the 10 CANDU units at both Bruce Power and Darlington will enable Ontarians to have clean, reliable, carbon-free, base-load power for another 25 to 30 years," Ala Alizadeh, Candu Energy's senior vice president of marketing and business development, said in the statement.

Shawn-Patrick Stencil, a campaigner with the anti-nuclear Greenpeace Canada, said in an interview late Monday that the plan "acknowledges that nuclear power units [at Pickering] will be shut down early and for the first time said there could be additional shutdowns if a decision is made not to do more refurbishments at Darlington and Bruce A" beyond the two set to begin in 2016.

--Jim Ostroff, james.ostroff@platts.com
--Edited by Lisa Miller, lisa.miller@platts.com