Uncategorized

New Cabinet Includes Bob Chiarelli, Glenn Murray

By George Christidis
Director, Government Affairs
Canadian Nuclear Association

On June 24, 2014, the newly-elected Premier of Ontario, Kathleen Wynne, announced the post-election cabinet. It includes some key ministers staying in the same portfolios as well as some senior ministers moving to new roles.

Of significance to the Canadian nuclear industry is the reappointment of Bob Chiarelli as Minister of Energy and the appointment of Glenn Murray, the former transportation minister, to Environment and Climate Change.

Charles Sousa was reappointed to Finance while Minister Michael Gravelle remains at  Northern Development and Mines. Minister David Zimmer continues at Aboriginal Affairs.

Bill Mauro was appointed to Natural Resources. Minister Mitzie Hunter was appointed Associate Minister of Finance with responsibility for the new Ontario Retirement Pension Plan.

As well, former Health Minister Deb Matthews was named President of the Treasury Board.

The legislature will reconvene next Wednesday with a Throne Speech marking the beginning of Ontario’s 41st Parliament. The CNA will monitor and assess the new Throne Speech and will provide a broad blue print to where the government intends to focus its priorities. Given the recent election, the previously tabled budget, which was also the key election platform for premier Wynne, is expected to be the basis of the new Throne Speech.

The CNA will be seeking an opportunity to reconnected with the key ministers and their staff as part of its on going efforts in re-enforcing the message that nuclear plays an important role in Ontario’s economic and social well being.

Please feel free in contacting us if you have any questions.

Uncategorized

What a Liberal Majority Means for Ontario’s Nuclear Industry

By John Stewart
Director, Policy and Research
Canadian Nuclear Association

What will four years of Liberal majority government mean for Ontario’s electric power industry?

We could analyze this in several ways. Some would be more critical than my colleagues would probably want posted; so the following is as kind as I can be.

Electric power is a business of decades. The infrastructure is large and expensive. For good reasons of reliability and safety, it is designed, verified, tested and evaluated to very high standards. It stays in service for 30 to 70 years. It affects every single household and business. The system is fantastically complex to manage; it requires balance and synchronization that few of us can understand.

North America’s electric power grid has been called the world’s largest single machine. If there is a business for technocrats – engineers, accountants, and independent regulators – surely this is it.

Politics is a business of months or, at most, a few years. Power and leadership are tenuous (as two leaders found out last night). Attention is dispersed between campaigning, forming teams, fending off attacks from inside and outside one’s party, legislating, and trying to govern.

Yet few businesses in our society are run so directly from the Premier’s desk as electric power. Electric power is a technocrat’s 50-year game that absolutely must come out right. Yet we subject it to constant political meddling.

When I first studied this business as an economist 24 years ago, it was obvious to me that this was a serious problem. Sadly for Ontario, it still is. I thought rational governments would seek to put some distance between themselves and the governance of the electric power system, if not for the good of the province, then at least to give themselves some peace. We have not seen that happen.

So let’s accept that our electric power system is and will continue to be run by politicians whose time frame does not match the one required for successful results, and who will continue to do the kinds of things in the future that they have done in the past.

Paradoxically, then, last night’s election result may be the best we could have hoped for. Here’s why: It is probably the least disruptive.

Whatever else one thinks of the opposition parties, a win by the PCs or the NDP would have held high risks for further erratic policy changes in a sector that is already challenged by the unforeseen consequences of recent interference.

A minority Liberal government would have held smaller versions of those risks, which might have been imposed by one of the opposition parties in return for support in the legislature.

The Wynne government has a mandate to change things, but with little apparent focus on the electricity sector; it pertains mainly to areas like education, social services and pensions.  The government’s commitment to infrastructure investment will be constrained by finances, it seems to be focused on transportation, and anyway, it has a chance of being beneficial if done rationally.

The Wynne government also has an electric power policy, the Long-Term Energy Plan, released last fall. Whatever else one thinks of it, at least we know what it is. In fact, it’s not bad.

And last night’s result means there is little risk of an election or a transition in the Premier’s Office for four years.

Much can still go wrong, and history says there’s a good chance it will. But much can still go right. A colleague recently remarked to me that “Ontario used to be where people came to learn how to run an electric power system. Now it’s where they come to learn how not to do it.” That can still change. Our odds are a little better today than they were yesterday.

Nuclear Policy Uncategorized

EDC Talks Nuclear Export Opportunities

By John Stewart
Director, Policy and Research
Canadian Nuclear Association

OCI President Ron Oberth and CNA staff recently participated in a detailed and constructive conversation about export financing with knowledgeable experts.

On June 5, Export Development Canada, along with the CNA and OCI, hosted Successful Exporting for Canadian Nuclear Companies, an informative two-and-a-half hour presentation and luncheon discussing how companies can grow their business by exporting abroad.

About 20 guests took part in the event at EDC’s downtown Toronto office. It is part of the CNA’s efforts to promote members’ awareness of international opportunities.

The conversation covered EDC’s general mandate and role, client eligibility and the nuts-and-bolts of EDC’s services. To access EDC’s services, companies need not export directly. They only have to be part of an export supply chain.

EDC officers Line Charbonneau, Chris Evans and Richard Ross participated, as did Louie DiPalma of the Ontario Chamber of Commerce, who described services available from the provincial level.

The CNA hopes to host another event like this in the months to come.

Uncategorized

Carbon Crisis a Help for Nuclear, Not a Cure-All

By John Stewart
Director, Policy and Research
Canadian Nuclear Association

The climate challenge will likely prove a modest, not a dramatic, help to nuclear energy, according to experts who spoke at this year’s Nuclear Energy Assembly in Scottsdale, Arizona.

Broad-brush policies on carbon are not happening, they emphasized at the conference that was attended by representatives from the Canadian Nuclear Association.

Global treaties failed, U.S. cap-and-trade legislation failed, and Congress will not put an explicit price on carbon.

The experts also correctly predicted that U.S. President Barack Obama’s administration would use Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulations to set climate policy.

On June 2, 2014, the Obama administration unveiled a bold new Environmental Protection Agency rule that would reduce carbon emissions 30 per cent by 2030, compared to 2005 levels.

David Victor, a modeller with the University of California at San Diego, said the climate models call for modest, but not vast, new investment in nuclear.

As a way of decarbonizing the atmosphere, more nuclear power appears to be competitive with encouraging forest growth (as a carbon sink), and with generating power from biomass combined with carbon capture and storage (CCS).

There are many “paper technologies,” Victor said, for reducing atmospheric carbon, but they tend to be pushed by technology-boosters with little knowledge of real-world investing and regulatory conditions.

Victor’s advice to policymakers is to focus on adapting. Limiting global warming to two degrees is now impossible and that “huge adaptation” is not only needed, but inevitable.

His advice to the nuclear energy industry is:  Focus less on climate policies, more on “what your real competition is” for effective carbon mitigation.

Uncategorized

Outlook Bright for New Nuclear Worldwide

By John Stewart
Director, Policy and Research
Canadian Nuclear Association

The outlook is bright for the global nuclear energy picture, according to speakers and experts at this year’s Nuclear Energy Assembly (NEA) in Scottsdale, Arizona.

Seventy two reactors are currently under construction worldwide, and the World Nuclear Association base case predicts 55 per cent growth in nuclear generation by 2050.

Former U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk told the conference, which was attended by Canadian Nuclear Association President John Barrett and CNA policy director John Stewart, the global revival of nuclear energy is a unique opportunity for U.S. trade in both large and small reactor designs and advances critical U.S. interests.

Kirk, who is also co-chair of the Clean and Safe Energy Coalition, cited Commerce Department statistics that show the international nuclear export market will be worth up to $740 billion over next decade. He said most opportunity for new nuclear builds will come from emerging markets.

NuScale CEO John Hopkins told the NEA his company is focusing on attracting investment and that small reactors are now “going to happen.”

Hopkins said the focus now is on replacing coal. There are also small reactor applications in the oil and gas sector, and an active market opportunity in the UK.

Meanwhile, the conference was also warned about potential issues that may come with the globalization of nuclear energy.

U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) Chair Allison Macfarlane asked for industry’s engagement to help improve regulatory regimes in countries that are new to nuclear.

“I also believe that we each have a particularly important responsibility when it comes to countries considering new nuclear power programs,” she said.

“I would argue that the presence of an effective, independent, well-resourced nuclear regulator is a strength – but perhaps more importantly, the absence of such an organization should be viewed as a threat, both to a good investment and to nuclear safety.”

Uncategorized

Nuclear Outlook Weak in Market-Driven North America

By John Stewart
Director, Policy and Research
Canadian Nuclear Association

Liberalized North American energy markets and a shale gas boom have made the financing of new nuclear plants extremely difficult, according to experts and U.S. industry executives.

Leading U.S. nuclear CEOs told the Nuclear Energy Assembly in Scottsdale, Arizona, on May 20, current market conditions are also now causing the premature closure of existing nuclear power plants, accelerating a loss of baseload power and a loss of fuel diversity. Canadian Nuclear Association (CNA) President John Barrett and CNA policy director John Stewart were in attendance at the conference.

The closure of the Kewaunee Power Station in Wisconsin last year stunned the industry. Market forces, not reactor age or safety, was cited as the cause.

William Mohl, an executive with Entergy Corporation, predicted that more nuclear plants will close without reform to the electricity market structure.

U.S. electricity prices are chronically too low, partly due to a politically-driven push for renewable energy combined with cheap natural gas and the short-term focus of liberalized electric power markets.

NEA participating experts said U.S. decision-makers, both public and private, will be slow to recognize the threat from loss of energy diversity, just as they were slow to recognize the implications of the shale revolution in oil and gas.

Lawrence Makovich, vice president at IHS CERA, said the reliability of the diverse generation mix is being taken for granted in the energy policy debate and many policymakers do not understand the problems associated with the intermittency of renewables.

“When people get this notion that solar is a substitute for conventional generation, you can see a country like Germany, with the solar intensity of Anchorage, Alaska, closing nuclear plants and replacing them with solar (facilities),” he told the conference.

Gerald Anderson, CEO with DTE Energy, also said there was a problem with the structure of markets. High capital intensity and price volatility have to led to distress and instability in the electric sector. He also said there is trouble attracting capital to invest in new build.