Bruce Power refurbishment to start 2020

Agreement will mean thousands of new jobs

By Barb McKay


An agreement with the Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO) to refurbish six nuclear reactor units will keep Bruce Power generating electricity for four more decades.



Bruce Power president and CEO Duncan Hawthorne last week. (Barb McKay photo)



Bruce Power president and CEO Duncan Hawthorne made the announcement to his workforce on Thursday calling the agreement “a massive deal” that has been a long time in the making.


“This deal encompasses the entire lifecycle of this plant until 2064. No one has ever seen a power deal this big over this duration.”


Bruce Power will invest $13 billion into the refurbishment of Units 3-8. Of that, $8 billion will be spent on the refurbishments themselves and $5 billion will be invested in life-extension measures until 2035. Work will begin almost immediately with a 102-day outage on Unit 8 beginning in January, but the actual refurbishment is scheduled to commence in 2020.


As part of the agreement, Bruce Power will condense Units A and B into a single unit due to a single price for output for all the units. The company secured a rate of $65.73 per megawatt hour, 30 per cent below the average residential price of $98 per megawatt hour. The price is highly competitive, Hawthorne noted, as Bruce Power is responsible for all costs associated with operation, waste and decommissioning.


Hawthorne said the agreement will mean long-term employment opportunities and provide stability for contractors in the skilled trades who are needed for this project. The deal promises that roughly 18,000 jobs will be secured directly and indirectly for operations and another 3,000 to 5,000 jobs will be added annually through the investment program. Hawthorne said a memorandum of understanding signed earlier this year with the building trades meant Bruce Power was planning for the workforce that would be needed.


“That was our way of saying, ‘This is coming – plan for it, get ready.’”


This refurbishment will differ greatly from the Bruce A Restart project.


“The difference this time is that all the units are running, so it’s a very different scope of work. Units 1 and 2 had been out of service for 17 years,” Hawthorne said. “There was a lot of catch-up regulatory requirements, there was a lot of equipment maintenance that had to be done for a long time and as a consequence of that there was a much bigger scope."


This time, he added, Bruce Power is taking units that are running well and replacing major components to extend the life of the units.


A key component of the agreement has Bruce Power taking responsibility for any cost overruns that may occur.


“We have to be able to take the risk. The reality is, it is our plan. We’ve had the opportunity to do these refurbishments before. There were indeed some lessons learned; some pretty expensive lessons…This time, we’ve done it all before, we’ve seen it all before and we have confidence on how long things will take.”