Mark Winfield is a professor of environmental and urban change at York University and co-chair of the faculty’s Sustainable Energy Initiative. He is also co-editor of Sustainable Energy Transitions in Canada (UBC Press, 2023).
The Ontario government’s announcement last week of its intention to pursue the refurbishment of the Pickering B nuclear power plant on the shore of Lake Ontario between Toronto and Pickering represents a strategic triumph for the provincially owned Ontario Power Generation utility. The project would significantly reinforce the utility’s already dominant position in the province’s electricity system.
How well the decision serves the interests of Ontario residents, taxpayers and electricity ratepayers, and advances the sustainable decarbonization of the province’s electricity system, is another question altogether.
A Pickering B refurbishment had been assessed as uneconomic in 2010 and the plant scheduled to close in 2018. The facility is located in what is now a densely populated urban area where approval of a new plant would be unlikely.
New plans for that refurbishment are part of larger nuclear expansion strategy being pursued by OPG and the province. The plans include the refurbishment of six reactors at the Bruce Nuclear facility (also owned by OPG) and four reactors at the OPG Darlington facility. There are also proposals for four large new reactors totalling 4,800 MW in capacity at Bruce and four new 300 MW reactors at Darlington.
For the rest of this column: https://www.theglobeandmail.com/business/commentary/article-ontario-pickering-nuclear-power-plant-refurbishment/