Greenpeace Canada

Greenpeace Canada

November 10, 2006 11:20 ET

Bruce Nuclear Deal Blocks Green Energy

Liberal deal could cost billions while blocking wind power and forcing transmission lines on communities

Attention: Environment Editor, Energy Editor, News Editor, Government/Political Affairs Editor TORONTO/ONTARIO--(CCNMatthews - Nov. 10, 2006) - According to documents acquired by Greenpeace under Freedom of Information legislation and reported in today's Toronto Star, the McGuinty government's decision to sign a $4 billion contract with Bruce Power to restart ageing nuclear reactors may cost Ontarians billions of dollars in penalty charges. These costs will come into effect if the government is unable to build transmission lines from the Bruce station to Toronto for the increased electricity generation. In order to build additional transmission lines in time, the McGuinty government will need to bypass community consultations and environmental approvals.

"The documents we obtained indicate that additional nuclear capacity will use almost all the existing transmission capacity, and wind power in the Bruce region will be capped at 1000 MW," said Shawn-Patrick Stensil, Energy Campaigner with Greenpeace Canada. "The McGuinty government knowingly signed a deal with Bruce Power that will block the development of the clean wind power Ontarians want and could cost them hundreds of millions of dollars a year. The Liberal government gives lip-service to green energy, but when you follow the money it's all about nuclear power."

On October 17 2005, the McGuinty government signed a long-term contract with Bruce Power obligating the province to buy nuclear electricity from the restart and refurbishment of 4 reactors at the Bruce A nuclear station. Documents obtained by Greenpeace Canada indicate that the McGuinty government was aware when signing the deal that there was insufficient transmission capacity for the electricity produced by Bruce Power and that the province (through Hydro-One) would have to fast-track construction of new transmission lines.

The documents outline two transmission options - either a new $600 million transmission line, or an upgrade of the existing one. It is admitted that "either options does not guarantee new transmission will be in place by the 2009/2012 requirement." The documents indicate that to meet the deadlines of the Bruce deal, the construction of transmission lines "will require streamlining of approvals." The documents also make clear the huge economic risk to Ontarians if electricity is 'stranded' at the Bruce nuclear site with insufficient transmission capacity to send it to market, stating that "Under contract with Bruce, cost to Ontario for stranding one nuclear unit is $460 million per year."

"It's clear that the McGuinty government had already decided to opt for nuclear and block the development of green power well before the sham consultations on its electricity plan earlier this year," added Stensil. "Not only will the province be wasting money on nuclear power that won't be spent on renewables, but now municipalities will likely face a sham consultation process on the issue of increased transmission capacity. If the Liberals were to walk their green energy talk, they would allow the expensive Bruce reactors to shut down as they age and let wind power expand in the Bruce region, while developing conservation and local supply sources in the Great Toronto Area."

Bruce is known to be one of the best regions for wind development in Ontario. Without multi-billion dollar repairs the 8 reactors at the Bruce nuclear station would shut down over the next 10 to 15 years, freeing up transmission space for the full development of wind power in the Bruce region.

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For more information:

Shawn-Patrick Stensil, Energy Campaigner Greenpeace Canada, 416-884-7053 (English, French)
Andrew Male, Communications Coordinator, 416-880-2757 (English, French) IN: ENERGY, ENVIRONMENT, POLITICS

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