Ontario continues its commitment to nuclear power in newly-released 2017 Long-Term Energy Plan

On October 26, Ontario’s Minister of Energy  released the 2017 Long-Term Energy Plan – Delivering Fairness and Choice, an update of previous versions in 2010 and 2013.   Clean Energy Canada states “Ontario’s long-term energy plan provides more direction than details, but it stays the course in building a modern, affordable and flexible energy system.”  Others, such as the Ontario Clean Air Coalition,  have concerns that the continuing commitment to nuclear power generation comes at the expense of development of renewables.  While the policy seems to focus on the political task of making energy more affordable and giving consumers more energy options, some noteworthy goals relate to “ enhancing net metering by allowing more people the opportunity to produce clean energy and use it to power their homes and lower their electricity bills. ” … “Allowing utilities to intelligently and cost-effectively integrate electric vehicles into their grids, including smart charging in homes”   … and increased oversight of fees charged by private providers “strengthening protection for vulnerable consumers in condominiums and apartments to protect them from energy disconnection in winter.”  Key reading from the LTEP: Chapter 6 Responding to the challenge of climate change  . The next step is for the Ontario Energy Board and the Independent Electricity System Operator to submit implementation plans to the Minister of Energy for approval.

The LTEP summarizes Ontario’s energy policies to date and forecasts demand for the future. For more detail and analysis on those aspects, see the CBC,  or  “Hydro Prices to keep rising just a bit more slowly” in the Ottawa Citizen (Oct. 26) which points out that the province is forecasting almost flat demand for electricity for the next 20 years, as conservation and efficiency savings are traded for  increased demand for electric vehicles and transit. (the report assumes  2.4 million electric vehicles will be on the roads by 2035).

Controversy surrounds the role of nuclear power in the plan.  The Power Workers Union,  which continues to lobby for nuclear power , calls the new LTEP “good news for the environment and the economy”  in their press release , stating:    “Today’s latest provincial Long-Term Energy Plan (LTEP) confirms the pivotal role nuclear energy will play in Ontario’s clean energy future.  Recognizing the significant environmental and economic benefits that this safe, reliable generation delivers, the provincial government remains committed to refurbishing all of Ontario’s publicly-owned nuclear reactors and to the four-year extension of the operations of the Pickering Nuclear Generating Station to 2024”.  In contrast, the Ontario Clean Air Coalition reacted with “Ontario doubles down on obsolete nuclear – and you’re paying for it” , which states: “Ontario’s fixation with obsolete nuclear energy is to say the least puzzling, but what is clear is that this fixation is going to cost us dearly. Please sign our petition calling on Premier Wynne to make a deal with Quebec to lower our electricity costs and to open the way for a modern renewable energy system. ”  In a similar vein, the David Suzuki Foundation press release states:  “Ontario’s new Long-Term Energy Plan is both encouraging and worrisome. The former because it recognizes the importance of clean air and addressing climate change; the latter because of its embrace of nuclear power and its lack of a road map to expand renewable energy.” … “ the province’s continued reliance on nuclear for about half its power is troubling. In addition to concerns around uranium mining and waste disposal, nuclear has not proven to be cost-effective.”



$13 Billion Darlington Nuclear Plant refurbishment is reportedly over budget

Ontario’s energy landscape is changing: with access to Quebec hydro power, a consultation to update its Long Term Energy Plan, and beginning of the massive Darlington Nuclear Plant Refurbishment

Ontario and Quebec announced the conclusion of 7 agreements on October 21, including  one will allow the two provinces to trade electricity, energy capacity and energy storage, and another to build more than 200 new high-speed charging stations for electric vehicles along the Highway 401 corridor by the end of March 2017. Ontario will be able to purchase  electricity from Hydro Quebec from 2017 – 2023  – thus reducing costs to consumers and GhG emissions. See the CBC summary here.

On October 13, Ontario announced that it is seeking public input to help develop the province’s next Long-Term Energy Plan (LTEP) .  The Environmental Registry notice includes most information, including  the Discussion Guide, Planning Ontario’s Energy Future . The Registry also acts as a portal to receive written submissions until December 16, 2016 .  Other technical documents and the 2013  version of the Long-Term Energy Plan are posted here ; detailed information about the public meetings throughout the province in October and November is here .  Also related to the energy file:  the announcement  on October 19  of the Ontario Rebate for Electricity Consumers Act, 2016, which promises to  reduce electricity bills by 8 per cent (more for rural consumers) as of January 2017.

And the October 14 announcement that the Darlington Nuclear Power Plant Refurbishment project has begun, at a projected cost of $12.8 billion, to be completed by 2026. (The decision  had been announced in January 2016) .  Ontario Power Generation (OPG) commissioned and funded an analysis of the economic impact of the continued operation of Darlington, from 2017 to 2055 ; the report, conducted by the Conference Board of Canada,  is available here .  Regarding job creation, the report estimates  “The combined impact of the refurbishment and continued operation of Darlington Station is projected to increase employment by 704,000 person-years between 2010 and 2055.” See the OPG website  dedicated to the Darlington Refubishment here. 




Nuclear Shutdown in California includes Transition provisions for Workers

Pacific Gas and Electric company of California announced  on June 21, 2016  that it will not renew licenses for its two nuclear reactors at Diablo Canyon, about halfway between Los Angeles and San Francisco, set to expire by 2025. This is being hailed as a landmark because, unlike other U.S. closures which reverted to more polluting sources of energy, the Diablo Canyon agreement will replace the nuclear energy with renewable sources and energy efficiency.  Further, the agreement, which included the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 1245   and the Coalition of California Utility Employees,  pledges  incentives to retain employees until 2025, retraining of employees for the decommissioning process, and severance payments when their employment ends.  See the IBEW Letter to Members here   . But James Hansen, amongst other greens and scientists, have lobbied to keep the plant open; see “If Diablo Canyon does close, America will have lost 14 reactors since 2013, but is it a good idea?”  in Vox.