Bruce restart project on schedule, but costs rise

18 April 2008

Bruce Power has completed a review of the cost and schedule estimates for restarting units 1 and 2 of the Bruce nuclear power plant in Ontario, Canada. While still set to restart in 2009 and 2010, the cost of the project has increased.

Bruce A 

Bruce A (Image: Bruce Power)

Duncan Hawthorne, president and CEO of Bruce Power, said: "Having conducted a thorough assessment of costs incurred to date, together with a complete review of remaining work programs, it is our view that the total cost for the return to service of units 1 and 2 will be in the range of C$3.1 to C$3.4 billion ($3.06 to $3.36 billion)."
The cost of bringing two Candu reactors back into service was initially put at C$2.75 billion. Earlier in 2008, with $2 billion already spent, it was announced that the cost of unit 1 & 2 refurbishment would be about $3 billion. Steve Cannon, a spokesman at Bruce Power, told the Globe & Mail newspaper that the cost of completing the refurbishment of units 1 and 2 has increased due to rising costs of fuel and construction materials. "It's certainly not unique to our project," he said.

Ontario's minister of energy, Gerry Phillips, said, "Any overrun is a major concern for us." He emphasized that, under the government's contract with Bruce Power, all cost overruns are shared on the project. The province pays half for the first C$300 million in overruns, and above that only covers one-quarter of the added cost. Ultimately, electricity consumers in Ontario cover the province's share of cost overruns. Bruce Power's project partners - TransCanada and the Ontario Municipal Employees Retirement System - cover the remaining costs.

The project to restart units 1 and 2 is now about 60% complete. However, Hawthorne said, "While there is still much to be done, we remain confident the units can return to service close to the planned dates of 2009 and early 2010."

While generally pleased with the overall progress to date, Hawthorne said this midpoint analysis also confirms that many challenges still exist outside of the fuel channel and steam generator replacement programs. Sixteen new steam generators have successfully been manufactured and installed at units 1 and 2.

He said: "To focus on these two major project areas alone would be an understatement of the full scope of work. There are more than 20,000 other activities, both large and small, that have to be completed before these units return to service." Hawthorne added, "This work requires a high level of co-ordination and is being supported by more than 1500 skilled building tradesmen and nearly 800 support staff drawn from across the country."

The Bruce site hosts eight reactors built in two large blocks of four each. Bruce A contains units 1 to 4, Bruce B has units 5 to 8.

Units 1 and 2 started commercial operation in 1977 but unit 2 was shut down in 1995 due to a maintenance accident in which lead contaminated the core. Unit 1 was laid up with another six units at the end of 1997 to allow operational focus on newer plants.
However, facing an impending power shortage, the Ontario government in October 2005 agreed with Bruce Power to refurbish the Bruce A units, each 769 MWe, rather than the longer process of building new ones to replace them.

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