[ RadSafe ] Article: Ontario Revives Nuclear Power Plan

John Jacobus crispy_bird at yahoo.com
Wed Jun 14 13:48:01 CDT 2006

>From the New York Times at

June 14, 2006
Ontario Revives Nuclear Power Plan 

OTTAWA, June 13 — In an effort to revive a nuclear
energy program that has been marred by billions of
dollars in debt, cost overruns and disappointing
performance, the province of Ontario on Tuesday
announced a plan to spend about 20 billion Canadian
dollars ($18 billion) to build reactors and refurbish
some current units.

The plan also includes about 20 billion Canadian
dollars for renewable energy projects and 6 billion
Canadian dollars ($5.3 billion) for power

"We have had a very bad financial history with nuclear
power," the province's energy minister, Dwight Duncan,
said in an interview after announcing the plan, which
will take about 20 years to complete. "The challenge
now is that we must manage these projects properly and
share the risk with potential suppliers."

Some reactor makers saw the plan as a major step
toward revitalizing their industry in North America. A
decade has passed since the last new reactor was
switched on.

"This is extremely important for the nuclear
industry," said Patrick Lamarre, the chief executive
of SNC-Lavalin Nuclear. "This is something we've been
waiting for for many years."

Vaughan Gilbert, a spokesman for Westinghouse Nuclear,
which is based in Monroeville, Pa., and owned by BNFL
of Britain, said, "We've been gearing up for this even
though the market for new plants in North America had
dried up." 

If completed as envisioned, the plan will maintain the
current level of nuclear-generated power, which
provides about half of Ontario's electricity. The
other half is provided mainly by hydro-electric dams
and coal. 

Ontario already encounters electrical shortages,
particularly during hot summer days. Cost overruns and
time delays that occurred during previous attempts to
refurbish reactors have made the government shy about
pursuing that route again. As a result, 3 of Ontario's
19 reactors are not in use.

A Conservative government that preceded Mr. Duncan and
the Liberals restructured the province's
government-owned electrical system as a prelude to
privatization. But a variety of problems, including a
political scandal tied to utility executives'
salaries, meant that the province never saw a major
influx of privately owned power-generating companies. 

Those issues recently forced Mr. Duncan to back away
from a campaign pledge to close by 2009 the coal-fired
generating stations.

Exactly how many reactors the province will build is
unclear. The project will initially involve at least
two units at a cost of about 2 billion Canadian
dollars each. But that number is expected to rise
after an analysis by the government-owned Ontario
Power Generation on the feasibility and cost
effectiveness of renewing current stations. 

In the past, Ontario always bought reactors from
Atomic Energy of Canada, or A.E.C.L., which is owned
by the Canadian government and based in Mississauga,
Ontario. That may not be the case this time.

"Our preference is to use Canadian technology," Mr.
Duncan said. "But the important thing is to get the
right deal."

Westinghouse has already expressed interest in
bidding, and Susan Hess, the manager of strategic
marketing for Areva NP — which is owned by Areva of
France and Siemens of Germany — said her company was
interested in both building and refitting plants.

In anticipation of making a bid, A.E.C.L. has created
a joint venture with SNC-Lavalin Nuclear and the
Canadian branches of General Electric, Babcock and
Wilcox and Hitachi. Mr. Lamarre said the group would
propose to build the reactors at a fixed price and
with penalties for late delivery.

Mark Winfield, the director of environmental
governance at the Pembina Institute for Appropriate
Development, predicted that the province would only
experience further financial grief by recommitting to
nuclear generation. "It's a very strange approach and
a very high-risk one as well," he said.

Mr. Winfield said he was skeptical that nuclear power
generation would succeed financially this time around,
and said the government was underestimating the full
potential of energy conservation. 

Copyright 2006 The New York Times Company 

"You get a lot more authority when the workforce doesn't think it's amateur hour on the top floor."
GEN. MICHAEL V. HAYDEN, President Bush's nominee for C.I.A. director.

-- John
John Jacobus, MS
Certified Health Physicist
e-mail:  crispy_bird at yahoo.com

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