By Josh Howald
You could call it an electric announcement.
Carol Mitchell revealed plans to refurbish six more units at Bruce Power last Tuesday in front of a cheering, standing-room only crowd at the site.
Bruce Power CEO Duncan Hawthorne, left, shares a laugh with Huron-Bruce MPP Carol Mitchell last Tuesday at Bruce Power. The two were in good spirits, for good reason - six more units at Bruce Power at set for refurbishment. (Josh Howald photo)
The announcement, which came as part of Ontario’s Long Term Energy Plan, is big news for the plant and the community.
“It’s great news, not just for the local economy, but for all of Ontario,” said Mitchell, Huron-Bruce MPP. “The lights will be shining a little brighter when we know it’s coming from Bruce Power.”
The refurbishment of the six remaining units should bring 3,000 new construction jobs over 12 years, and ensure the long-term employment for the 4,000 people who currently run the site. There are two units currently undergoing refurbishment, and once all eight are completed the site will be capable of producing 6,300 megawatts of nuclear power. That’s 25 per cent of the province’s total power.
“It definitely gives come certainty to our employees,” said CEO Duncan Hawthorne following the announcement. “Right now, our focus is on completing Units 1 and 2. What this allows us to do is to look ahead and start structuring ourselves to be able to complete the refurbishments on time and on budget.”
It also allows Bruce Power to begin commercial discussions with the Ontario Power Authority, and extends the life of the site to 2040 and beyond.
Hawthorne said that a $12 billion cost - $2 billion per unit – is a fair number for the work. That money isn’t coming from government coffers, but from Bruce Power’s private investors. The announcement is great news for them, as well, as Bruce Power will be a major player in the province’s energy plan for decades to come.
“I’ve been fighting for this because it means clean, secure, power for Ontario and good, stable jobs for the people of Huron-Bruce,” said Mitchell. “The Ministry of Energy has made it clear our government is committed to refurbishment and that Bruce Power will play a key role in our energy system for years to come.”
The province’s long-term energy plan, which is updated every four years, also included the closure or conversion of all coal-fired units by 2014, transmission projects and a boost for renewable energy like solar and wind. It also includes a jump in electricity prices. Residential and small business rates will increase by 3.5 per cent annually for the next 20 years, factoring in the 10 per cent Ontario Clean Energy Benefit, while industrial rates will rise by 2.7 per cent annually for the next 20 years.
Bruce Power will receive $57.37 per megawatt hour for power produced by Units 1 and 2 once refurbished and back online. Hawthorne said it is “very competitively priced against other options.
We still think when we get this deal thrashed out; it will in fact show that this is very competitively priced power.”
“I’m very proud of the work done on this site,” said Mitchell. “They are doing things that have never been done before. I remember the late 90s and what the mood was like here. We want to restore this site to its full potential – it really is a better tomorrow for Huron and Bruce.”
“Over time, what’s good for Bruce Power is good for the community,” said Hawthorne. “For example, I was asked to cut the ribbon at the opening of the new (Holiday Inn Express) hotel. People want to know our plans before they make their own. We cast a shadow far larger than we sometimes realize, and this (announcement) is good for all of us.”