Category Archives: CNA Responds

CNA Responds

Wind Attacks Nuclear, Gets Blown Away

By John Stewart
Director, Policy and Research
Canadian Nuclear Association

Chris Forrest is the vice-president of communications and public affairs at the Canadian Wind Energy Association. He wrote an op-ed that appeared in the Hamilton Spectator attacking nuclear on a variety of fronts. Here’s our response to the unnecessary and non-factual assault.

Chris Forrest’s attack on nuclear (“Wind Energy is a Better Deal for Ontario than New Nuclear,” Jan 4) is unnecessary and non-factual.

It’s unnecessary because Ontarians aren’t called upon to choose one energy source over another.   We use many diverse energy sources that support and complement each other.

It’s non-factual because Forrest says that “pricing on nuclear is very hard to find” but in the same breath that “it is broadly understood that electricity from new nuclear generation will be significantly more expensive” than the rate he claims for new wind.

If the data is so hard to find that he doesn’t cite any, what’s the basis for this alleged “broad understanding?”  Nuclear helped to build the affordable business environment that made Ontario so prosperous over the past half-century.

The 2011 Ontario Auditor General’s Report remarked that “Billions of dollars were committed to renewable energy without fully evaluating the impact, the trade-offs, and the alternatives through a compre¬hensive business-case analysis” (page 97). The report also cited Ministry of Energy and Ontario Energy Board projections that residential electricity bills will increase by 7.9% annually over the next five years primarily due to investments in renewable energy (page 89), resulting in a $570 increase in annual household electricity bills between 2009 and 2014 (page 95).

Nuclear power generation currently sells on average at around $.06 per kWh.  By providing this stable, affordable base, nuclear enables the grid to diversify into new sources like wind.

Advocates for wind energy are welcome to make their case without attacking other, good and proven options.

CNA Responds Nuclear Energy Nuclear Pride Nuclear Safety

CNA Endorses OPG’s Applications for Renewal of Darlington Facilities

The Canadian Nuclear Association (CNA) welcomes and endorses Ontario Power Generation’s (OPG) applications to renew its Darlington facilities. These applications cover refurbishment and ongoing operation of the Darlington nuclear generating facility, and renewal of the Darlington Waste Management Facility’s licence for a 10-year period.

“I’m delivering this message not just on behalf of at least 60,000 Canadians whose livelihoods are supported by our industry, but also for the 13.5 million Ontarians who deserve to enjoy the same affordable clean air energy in the future that they have in the past,” said Heather Kleb, CNA President and CEO.

“Darlington supplies electricity that is extremely reliable, reasonably priced, emits virtually no greenhouse gas from operations, and delivers high-wage, highly skilled jobs. The Darlington Nuclear Generating Station has been one of the largest contributors of electricity to Ontario’s power grid since 1990. We at CNA feel very strongly that the continued service of these facilities is vital for an ongoing stable supply of base load electricity to Ontario homes, workplaces and businesses.

“The Darlington station is an extremely valuable economic resource that has not yet reached the mid-way point of its functional service life. By renewing it, Ontario has a great opportunity to realize more value from this asset. The front-end cost of nuclear plants is spread over several decades of operating life, allowing them to produce electricity at low and predictable unit costs.

“Nuclear is one of the assets that has made Ontario so attractive in the past for investors and knowledge industries. Darlington is helping that to continue.”

A recently released study by Canadian Manufacturers and Exporters determined that nuclear is an integral part of Canada’s innovation, manufacturing and export capacity. Refurbishing ten nuclear reactors will support at least 10,000 jobs for the coming eleven years, plus ongoing long-term jobs in plant operations.

Ms. Kleb added that the safety of operations at Darlington has been demonstrated through 20 years of commercial power generation at this site, and over 40 years in the province.

Ms. Kleb spoke on December 5 at a Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) Public Hearing in Courtice, Ontario.

CNA Responds Nuclear Energy Nuclear Pride

NB Power Point Lepreau Generating Station Resumes Commercial Operations

The Canadian Nuclear Association (CNA) congratulates NB Power on the return to commercial service of its Point Lepreau Generating Station. The completion of this refurbishment project means an additional 25-30 years of continued safe, reliable, clean air energy for New Brunswick and surrounding export customers.

“The completed refurbishment and return to commercial operations of the Point Lepreau Generating Station is a great accomplishment,” says Heather Kleb, Interim President and CEO of the Canadian Nuclear Association. “Point Lepreau is an essential part of New Brunswick’s long-term energy policy and will help ensure the province achieves its goal of having 75 per cent of its electricity coming from clean, low-carbon sources by 2020.”

Point Lepreau is a foundational piece of NB Power’s domestic energy supply and export sales, and provides rate stability. The refurbishment of the Point Lepreau Generating Station positions NB Power once again as a utility with a world-class nuclear facility and the highly skilled work force required to operate it.

The Canadian nuclear industry supports the employment of 30,000 Canadians who are responsible for generating electricity, mining uranium, advancing nuclear medicine, and promoting Canada’s global leadership in science and technology innovation. Through these efforts, we also support 30,000 spin-off jobs and contribute to Canada’s supply of reliable, affordable power.

Background:

NB Power declares the Point Lepreau Generating Station commercially operational.

CNA Responds

Closure of Gentilly-2 Nuclear Generating Station

Hydro-Québec has confirmed the Gentilly-2 nuclear power plant which has been operating safely and reliably since 1983, will stop producing electricity on December 28, 2012. This follows the September 20 announcement by the Government of Québec on its decision to shut down Gentilly-2 rather than proceeding with a refurbishment.

“The Canadian Nuclear Association is disappointed with this decision. The Gentilly-2 Nuclear Generating Station employs roughly 800 people in stable, well trained, well-paid jobs, and powers the equivalent of 275,000 households in Québec,” said Association President and CEO, Denise Carpenter.

The increase in project costs, combined with falling market prices prompted Hydro-Québec to recommend to the Québec government that the generating station be closed. In light of the feedback it has obtained on the complete refurbishment cycle, the company has reassessed the cost of the project to $4.3 billion.

“Hydro-Québec made a decision based on their plant and their economics, for a plant that supplies three per cent of their demand,” continued Carpenter. “However, new project costs are subject to interpretation considering other refurbishment projects in Ontario, where nuclear supplies almost 60 per cent of demand, have lower estimated costs.”

Candu Energy Inc. President and General Manager, Kevin Wallace, has stated Candu Energy Inc. believes the government’s decision to close the Gentilly-2 nuclear facility was made before all options were considered. Candu also hopes that the government will reconsider its decision and engage in further dialogue on a possible lease agreement with a partner to refurbish, operate and potentially decommission the plant.

Despite this announcement, Canada’s nuclear industry is strong and moving forward. In Ontario, nuclear is an integral part of the electricity supply and is expected to continue to account for 50 per cent of the province’s energy supply as indicated in the Government’s Long-Term Energy Plan. For example, a decision to issue a licence to prepare for the new units at the Darlington station was announced in August 2012, and one of the most complex engineering challenges in Ontario’s history of infrastructure is coming to a successful conclusion as workers at Bruce Power prepare to return Units 1 and 2 to commercial service.

The Canadian nuclear industry provides a broad spectrum of products and services that benefit Canadians, generating approximately $6.6 billion per year and contributing $1.5 billion in tax revenue and $1.2 billion in export revenues, and supports over 71,000 direct and indirect jobs.

Background:

Candu Energy statement on decision to close Gentilly-2 nuclear facility in Quebec (October 3) 

Hydro-Québec Confirms Gentilly-2 Closure at the End of 2012 (October 3)

CNA Responds Nuclear Energy Nuclear News

Gentilly-2 Movie Makes Fiction Out of Fact

It was reported last week that the recently elected Parti Quebecois intends to shut down Quebec’s reactor, Gentilly-2. Nothing is official until the new government makes it so, but comments from PQ spokesperson, Éric Gamache, have caught some attention.

This has always been the PQ party’s position on Gentilly-2 (G2), so why the stir now?

Timing is everything. A movie called “Gentilly Or Not To Be,” based on a report by the Quebec government’s Agence de la santé et des services sociaux de la Mauricie et du Centre-du-Québec aired last night on Télé-Québec.

The G2 movie uses this report as the basis for their claim that ‘the rate of childhood cancers in the area around the plant is 27% higher than in the rest of Québec.’

To be clear, this is the film maker’s interpretation of the data.

The director of the public health agency that authored the report, physician Gilles W. Grenier, clearly acknowledges the limitations of the municipal data, the very small numbers involved, random variables, the difficulty in interpreting the statistics to determine significance, the need for more detailed study and so on — so the 27% claim is simply not credible.

In fact, according to the CNSC, the Regional Public Health Directorate confirms cancer rates are normal around Gentilly-2. The fluctuations recorded by the documentary filmmakers for the years 2000–2004 are normal, temporary and related to cases located in a relatively remote area from the plant. In fact, such fluctuations are regularly observed in the population and should not be interpreted blindly and recklessly.

To quote Dr. Grenier, when he spoke with the CBC on September 11,

“We’ve been monitoring cancer rates and birth-defect rates for 20 years in a 20-kilometre radius around the reactor, and in all that period, in the zone from five to 10 kilometres out, we’ve never seen a rise in cancer cases against the Quebec average.”

The film also references a German study that alleges increased leukemia risk for people living near nuclear power stations. This is false. The authors of the study and the German Commission on Radiological Protection have determined that the presence of clusters (or concentrations) of leukemia cases near some German nuclear power plants had nothing to do with the radioactive releases. In fact, some years clusters are observed in different regions of Germany whether they have nuclear power plants or not.

Also worth noting, recent British and French studies used the same methodology as the German childhood leukemia study and did not find any increase in risk in their populations.

To be or not to be

The film’s title is a clever play on the opening lines of Hamlet’s soliloquy and clearly signals the intention of the movie, which is to ask the question: do we need nuclear energy?

…Whether ’tis Nobler in the mind to suffer
The Slings and Arrows of outrageous Fortune,
Or to take Arms against a Sea of troubles…

But who is Hamlet in this scenario, really? What outrageous fortune is it to have a reliable, clean energy source like nuclear? In 2012, nuclear power from G2 helped avoid almost 3.5 million tonnes CO2 emissions in Quebec. The province is fortunate to have immense hydro power but that’s not the case for all provinces or countries.

This is another issue the film failed to address. Nuclear power is a vital part of Canada’s clean energy mix. It accounts for 15% of all electricity generated across the country and almost 60% in Ontario alone. Nuclear is a strong reliable source of base load power that is enabling Ontario to quit coal by 2014 and get renewable sources like wind and solar on the grid. Nuclear power generation can enable Canada to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by reducing dependence on burning fossil fuels, like coal, oil and gas. An energy mix that includes nuclear means a cleaner, greener future.

The film makers feel they are taking arms against a sea of trouble. A sea filled with supposed increased childhood cancer rates and misunderstandings about the safety of this energy source.

People who work at nuclear facilities live near them too. They are knowledgeable about the technology and the science. They understand how safe it is, how responsibly power generation by-products and used-fuel are handled.

They are 800 strong at G2. Ask yourself, would 800 people collectively decide to put their health and their families’ health in harm’s way if there was indeed such a huge risk, as the film makers say?

We don’t think so either.

 

Additional Reading

The Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission sent a letter from President Dr. Michael Binder to the editor of Le Nouvelliste, a QC paper that has been covering the issue recently. They completely debunk the claims in the film. If you’re still worried, we recommend you read the letter and sleep better tonight.

More from the CNSC on this issue:  Similar to the letter above but with more myth busting facts!

Radiation and health is a complicated issue for us regular folks. AECL, one of the best sources for accurate information about nuclear, has compiled this information and list of resources.

CNA Responds Nuclear Energy

CNA Responds: Clearing the Air on Energy Exports

Today we responded to yet another opinion piece from the Clean Air Alliance’s Jack Gibbons. Our response submitted to the Toronto Star is below but here are a couple of extra points we’d like to make:

  • There is affordable, reliable clean air power in Ontario thanks to nuclear.
  • Without low-carbon nuclear power, we would be burning more polluting coal and natural gas.  Nuclear provides the reliable base load we need around the clock for cooling our homes, powering our freezers, etc.
  • The global adjustment (GA) is paid to all power producers – in proportion. Nuclear powers almost 60% of Ontario’s needs and receives only 45% of the provincial GA. That’s a good deal.
  • Many people may not realize that nuclear’s clean, base load power is enabling the province to be coal-free by 2014 and provides the stable base needed to bring more intermittent renewables onto the grid. Nuclear works when the wind isn’t blowing and the sun isn’t shining. Nuclear diverts millions of tonnes of CO2 emissions that would result from the same amount of electricity generated by fossil-based sources, like the natural gas Mr. Gibbons is advocating for.
  • According to a report from the OECD, Canadians pay the same or less for electricity from nuclear power compared to all other forms of electricity; and the overall cost to the consumer is similar to that of large-scale hydro, natural gas and coal, and much lower than wind and solar.  Readers might also be interested in the Ontario Auditor General’s examination of the cost of renewable energy initiatives.
  • Simply shelving the province’s Long-Term Energy Plan, as suggested by Mr. Gibbons, in favour of a less reliable, more financially and environmentally costly energy mix, is risking our ability to meet important emissions-reduction targets and the province’s future energy stability and economic competitiveness.

EDIT: The Toronto Star printed a couple of responses correcting Gibbons’ op-ed, including from Michael Ivanco, Society of Professional Engineers and Associates, Mississauga, and Francois Tardif, Trading Analyst, Market Operations, Ontario Power Generation, Woodbridge.

Read their comments here.

Photo credit: KEVIN FRAYER/CP (via thestar.com)

In response to: Why are we paying N.Y. to take our electricity? (Toronto Star, Aug 7)

Jack Gibbons’ argument contains many unsupported statements as well as many misunderstandings:  about the origins of Ontario’s power surplus, the difference between average and spot pricing, the safety and cost record of nuclear, the reliability of market forecasts, and the constraints of planning our long-term infrastructure.

The power surplus originated mainly in a change in the whole economic growth trajectory for North America, one that very few people foresaw.  The predictions (cited by Gibbons) that power demand will remain flat or falling for the next eight years may be no more reliable than the growth projections made in 2005-2007.  Most market projections more than a year or two out are extremely unreliable.

Meeting any large, long-term supply need is likely to involve arrangements that aren’t completely flexible.  These arrangements are usually entered into in order to obtain prices that are stable and low, close to long term average costs.  These are the kinds of prices that nuclear power has delivered to Ontario.  “Spot” market prices that look low are determined by hourly and daily market forces that can change dramatically.

Gibbons talks about wind and gas power that can be turned on and off instantly, but these sources have fixed installation costs.  Costs do not disappear at the moment that a source is disconnected from the grid.

Gibbons’ casual accusation that Pickering A is a “safety and financial hazard” is not supported, nor is his claim that “every nuclear project in Ontario’s history has gone dramatically over budget.”  Pickering, like other CANDU units in Ontario, has a terrific safety and performance record.  To learn about “financial hazards” to their energy bills, Ontarians could read the provincial Auditor General’s critique of the province’s renewable energy program.