Bruce Power to prepare Alberta site

14 March 2008

Bruce Power Alberta announced that it has completed its deal to buy the assets of Energy Alberta relating to nuclear power plant development. In addition, the company has filed an application with the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) to prepare a site for the potential construction of western Canada's first nuclear power plant.

Bruce Power signed a letter of intent in November 2007 to purchase certain assets of Energy Alberta, which has already begun preliminary work on a proposal to construct a nuclear power plant in the Canadian province of Alberta.

In August 2007, Energy Alberta announced that it had selected Peace River as the potential site for its nuclear power plant and had filed an application for a site preparation licence with the CNSC. The application was for the siting of up to two of twin-unit plants, using AECL's ACR-1000 Advanced Candu reactors. Energy Alberta said that it planned initially to build one 2200 MWe twin-unit plant, with a start-up target of 2017.

As part of the purchase agreement, Bruce Power has acquired exclusive rights to use Candu technology in Alberta and, as a qualified proponent, will advance the licensing process for the ACR-1000 design.

Bruce Power Alberta said it is now considering up to four reactors that could produce 4000 MWe. The first unit could be ready as early as 2017, pending the successful completion of a full environmental assessment (EA) and consultations with the local communities. Over the next several months, Bruce Power Alberta will also establish an office in the Peace Country to coordinate its consultation, technical studies, site evaluation and planning activities. The company said that the decision-making process could take up to three years to complete.

Bruce Power Alberta's president and CEO, Duncan Hawthorne, said: "We recognize this is just one of many steps in a multi-year process of extensive community consultation and technical study, but we're excited to officially get underway." He added, "Our first, and most important, order of business will be getting to know the people in the Peace Country, sharing our plans, answering their questions and understanding their concerns."

The company said it has not yet chosen a specific reactor design for the site. "Assessing several reactor designs is the best way to compare and contrast what the market has to offer," said Hawthorne. "However, we are an all-Canadian company and the impact on Canadian jobs will be a big part of our decision-making process."

No buyer for the electricity from any future plant has yet been announced, but it would be expected to be an oil company needing large volumes of power to extract oil from oil sands. Alberta's electricity capacity is currently some 9000 MWe, but increased demand, particularly within the oil sands sector, is expected to push demand up to around 14,000 MWe by 2016.

Bruce Power owns and operates the Bruce nuclear power plant in Ontario and is itself owned by a group of partners including TransCanada and Cameco.