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Nuclear Projects and Costs: Jobs and Affordability

In the article Rising electricity prices have little to do with renewable energy (May 5), Weis makes several omissions and extrapolations in the areas of transparency, cost and the role of nuclear energy projects in Ontario.

Ontario Power Generation (OPG), which is owned by the people of Ontario, produces about 60 per cent of the electricity used in Ontario and half of that comes from its 10 operating nuclear units. The price for this electricity is 5.6 cents per kilowatt hour, up from 5.5 cents two years ago.  This information is publicly available and is set by the Ontario Energy Board during a public process.

While “full costs associated with refurbishing existing units or building new ones has never been made public,” that’s because OPG and the government have yet to determine a projected cost, Similarly, OPG has yet to determine precise costs to refurbish the four units at Darlington. Both projects will be the result of competitive bidding processes. Setting a price before the bids are complete would not result in the best deal for consumers.

Building two new nuclear units will be a major undertaking. It will require thousands of skilled tradespeople, enormous quantities of cement, steel and other metals. It would require thousands of specifically fabricated components which will create numerous spin off jobs in the manufacturing sector.

According to a report released in July 2010 by Canadian Manufacturers & Exporters, refurbishing nuclear facilities at Bruce and Darlington will create 25,000 jobs in the next decade and inject $5 billion into the Ontario economy annually.

For example, the contractor workforce for the Bruce Power refurbishment wrapping up this year, at its peak, included over 3,000 skilled tradespersons. The project has been employing thousands of people since 2006. In addition to this direct employment, there is also a significant amount of indirect employment in those firms that supply services and materials to the refurbishment projects. Ontario has an ambitious clean energy development targets and nuclear energy – an integral part of the province’s clean energy portfolio – is crucial to achieving those targets. Many people may not realize that nuclear’s clean, base load power is enabling the province of Ontario to be coal-free by 2014 and provides the stable base that is needed to bring renewables onto the grid.

Reaching these clean energy goals does have associated costs and to better understand the costs of Ontario’s energy mix, plain and accessible information can be found in the provincial Auditor General’s latest report, which cites what the Ontario Energy Board itself said in 2010:

“In April 2010, the OEB completed an analysis predicting that a typical household’s annual electricity bill will increase by about $570, or 46%, from about $1,250 in 2009 to more than $1,820 by 2014. More than half of this increase would be because of renewable energy contracts” (page 95).

Nuclear energy provides over half of the province’s electricity. It’s clean, reliable and affordable. The CNA invites Canadians to read the Auditor General’s report and make an informed decision on energy costs.

We also invite you to join the conversation on our TalkNUclear blog, Facebook and Twitter and ask us about the topics that are important to you. Our NU microsite NUnuclear.ca is an excellent tool that illustrates the role nuclear technology plays in our daily lives beyond power generation. From life-saving nuclear medicine to enabling materials safety, we depend on nuclear for much more than just keeping the lights on.

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NRC Approves New Nuclear Build at Vogtle Site in Georgia

Big news for our nuclear neighbors south of the border.  It was announced today by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission in the United States that Southern Nuclear Operating Company’s (SNC) application for two Combined Licenses (COL) at the Vogtle site in Georgia was approved!

Read all about it: NRC News Release (PDF)

Congratulations to all the stakeholders:  the companies that build and design nuclear technology, the regulators who work with them to ensure its safety, and above all the families and businesses in Georgia who want reliable, affordable electric power.

These stakeholders, and others like them around the world, are building on decades of learning and continuous improvement, which is a strong part of our industry’s culture.

This is just one more step toward renewed growth for our industry.  Nuclear technology has a great role to play in a balanced and sustainable energy future for North America.

SNC will build and operate two Westinghouse AP1000 reactors at the Vogtle site.

Ask Westinghouse SVP and Chief Technical Officer, Dr. Kate Jackson, all about it at the 2012 Canadian Nuclear Association Conference and Trade Show – Feb 22-23, in Ottawa. Registration closes Feb 17. #cnagm2012