Bruce Power kills plans for Bruce C

Section: 
News

By Kristen Shane

 

Bruce Power has scrapped plans to build Bruce C. Instead of adding up to four new nuclear reactors to its Bruce site, it will focus on refurbishing its existing Bruce A and B generating stations, the company announced last week.

 

It told national nuclear regulatory agencies that it was withdrawing its site license applications and shelving its environmental assessments for the Bruce build and its other proposed new nuclear site in Nanticoke, on the north shore of Lake Erie.

 

“(This decision) really has been in the making for a little while as we looked at electricity demand in Ontario decline,” said Murray Elston, Bruce Power vice-president of corporate affairs, in a phone interview.

 

In June, electricity use in Ontario was down almost 11 per cent from the same month last year, according to Independent Electricity System Operator, which measures Ontario’s power usage.

 

Unit 5 of the Bruce B generating station was taken offline for three days in June because electricity supply in Ontario exceeded demand. Another unit has been out of service since July 14.

 

The recession is causing energy-hungry auto plants and other manufacturing giants to permanently shut down or sleep away the summer months on extended closures, so the need for more power plants just isn’t there, Elston said.

 

The cool summer weather has also contributed to the death of Bruce C.

 

“When we have hot, humid days and hot, humid nights people usually turn on the air conditioning,” said Elston.

 

No heat wave means no need for added electricity to keep Ontarians cool.

 

Bruce Power isn’t the only one backing away from building more nuclear reactors in Ontario. The provincial government announced last month it would stop the bidding process between companies vying to build the province’s next nuclear reactor, in Darlington. Energy Minister George Smitherman said the best offer received was too expensive.

 

Money may be tight in Ontario, but Bruce Power still has its feet firmly planted out west where funds are flowing.

 

The company is sticking with plans to bring nuclear power to Alberta and Saskatchewan. It is currently preparing an environmental assessment of its Peace River, Alta. site and choosing a site in Saskatchewan.

Kincardine mayor Larry Kraemer said Bruce Power’s decision to pull back from Ontario is disappointing, but not unexpected.

 

“I think you can’t be surprised that the expansion plans are curtailed until the demand shows long-term promise,” he said.

 

But, he added, “They are going to continue with the refurbishment of the other units…so we can wish them all the best on that.”

 

When the Tiverton plant lost out to Darlington as the site of Ontario’s next nuclear reactor last June, Bruce Power’s consolation was a provincial government commitment to using 6,300 megawatts of electricity from the Bruce site. That’s the total amount of power all eight units at the Bruce site could produce when at full power.

 

The company could meet that target by building new reactors, refurbishing its existing fleet or a combination of both.

 

By deciding against a new build, “It’s just taking one of these options off the table,” says Doug Mullaly, the president of the Bruce Power Pensioners Association and co-chair of the Citizens for Bruce C campaign.

 

The best option now, Elston says, is to meet with investors and provincial electricity regulators to discuss refurbishing units 3 and 4 of its Bruce A site and units 5, 6, 7 and 8 of its Bruce B site. That would follow the current refit of Bruce A’s units 1 and 2, which is scheduled to finish next year.

 

Refurbishment would employ fewer workers than a new build. But, Mullaly said, “It’s still a $15 billion investment by Bruce Power. And all of that for a small community like Bruce County. It’s all good news.”