Pickering supports Ontario’s economy, report says

04 April 2018

The Ontario Chamber of Commerce (OCC) says the continued operation of the Pickering nuclear power plant until 2024 would be a benefit to Ontario's economy, its local communities, its climate change goals and the stability of its energy system. The OCC made its comment in a report released yesterday in partnership with the Canadian Centre for Economic Analysis (CANCEA).

Pickering (Image: OPG)

There are three nuclear generating stations within the province's borders - Bruce, Darlington and Pickering. In 2016, these three stations generated 91.7 TWh of electricity, constituting 61% of the total electricity produced in the province. In January 2016, the province announced that it had endorsed Ontario Power Generation's (OPG's) plan to pursue the continued operations of Pickering until 2024. Any plan to extend Pickering's life would require approval from the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC).

Ten Candu nuclear power units are to be refurbished between 2016 and 2033 - four at Darlington and six at Bruce. In continuing to operate until 2024, the Pickering plant will provide baseload electricity during the refurbishment of the Darlington and Bruce nuclear power units.

Minister of Energy, Glenn Thibeault, provided comment on the OCC and CANCEA analysis: "The OCC and the CANCEA have confirmed the overwhelming benefits to Ontarians from the continued operation of Ontario Power Generation's Pickering Nuclear Generating Station. Operating the Pickering station to 2024 would ensure that Ontario families and businesses have an affordable and reliable source of emissions-free power during the Darlington and initial Bruce refurbishments, generate billions of dollars in economic activity and support thousands of jobs per year. This is part of our government's plan to support care and opportunity, while producing affordable, reliable and clean energy for the people of Ontario."

The Pickering Station, which is owned and operated by OPG, accounts for 14% of Ontario's electricity supply and directly employs over 4,000 Ontarians.

The report - Pickering Continued Operations: An Impact Analysis on Ontario’s Economy - finds that continued operation of the Pickering plant would have a positive economic impact not merely on Durham Region, but on the province as a whole; and not merely to the utilities sector, but to nearly all sectors operating across Ontario.

To date, Pickering has been positively assessed twice over and has been recognised for safety and performance by the World Association of Nuclear Operators, the report notes. In 2016, the CNSC issued Pickering the highest possible rating, 'fully satisfactory' in its Regulatory Oversight Report, it adds.

CANCEA's analysis points to three major benefits to continued operations until 2024: CAD1.54 billion to Ontario's GDP per year; 7590 full-time equivalent jobs per year; and CAD290 million in government taxation revenues (CAD155 million to federal and CAD135 million to provincial).

Fundamental shift


The report notes that, since the turn of the century, Ontario's electricity system has undergone a fundamental shift. Between 2005 and 2015, more than 6GWe of installed coal-fired capacity was shut down.

"This radical transformation of Ontario's electricity system would not have been possible without the presence of Ontario's nuclear generating stations. To eliminate its dependence on burning coal for generating electricity, the province's reliance on nuclear power increased significantly," it says.

The share of power generated from nuclear steam turbines increased from 42% in 2003 to 62% in 2014. Despite accounting for only one-third of Ontario's installed capacity, nuclear power produces about two-thirds of Ontario's electricity.

"Low-cost, clean and reliable nuclear power has become the backbone of Ontario's electricity system," the report says.

The analysis, based on detailed operational and capital expenses provided by OPG, show that Pickering supplies enough power for 1.5 million homes each day and its continued operation to 2024 is expected to contribute more than CAD12.3 billion to Ontario's GDP.

Researched and written by World Nuclear News