Community Matters: Nuclear is powering Ontario’s growth

John Peevers, Director, Community and Media Relations

Last month, Bruce Power returned a refurbished Unit 6 to the Ontario electricity grid ahead of schedule and on budget to provide safe, reliable and clean power to the province for decades to come.

This huge accomplishment was made possible by the hard work and dedication of thousands of Bruce Power employees, skilled tradespeople and industry partners, many of whom call the Clean Energy Frontier region of Bruce, Grey and Huron counties their home.

The Unit 6 Major Component Replacement (MCR) outage began in January of 2020 and was completed early despite the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic. It is the first unit to be returned to service as part of Bruce Power’s Life-Extension Program, which will see Units 3-8 refurbished over the next decade, extending the units’ operation period to 2064 and beyond.

This is just the beginning for us and, as our CEO Mike Rencheck said when speaking with our employees recently, “When you start well, it really puts the wind in your sails and the wind at your back.”

Nuclear refurbishment in Ontario is off to a great start, with Ontario Power Generation bringing its renewed Darlington Unit 3 back online well ahead of schedule and on budget in July, with Unit 2 having been returned to service three years prior.

Ontario’s nuclear industry is proving that refurbishment is not only possible, but the responsible thing to do as the need for clean energy mounts. The Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO) Pathways to Decarbonization Report predicts that in less than 30 years, Ontario could need to more than double electricity generating capacity, from 42,000 megawatts (MW) today to 88,000 MW in 2050.

In its report, the IESO identified several ‘no-regret’ actions the government must take now to meet growing demand for clean energy. The World Bank defines ‘no-regret’ actions as measures that would be justified under all plausible future scenarios, including the absence of manmade climate change.

The IESO’s recommendations included beginning the planning, siting and environmental assessment work needed for new nuclear; collaboration amongst stakeholders and Indigenous communities; and ensuring that regulatory, approval and permitting processes are ready to manage future investment at scale.

The Ontario government responded with its Powering Ontario’s Growth plan, embracing its nuclear advantage through generational decisions in starting pre-development work for a new nuclear station at the Bruce Power site and advancing three additional small modular reactors at Darlington.

“Bringing (Unit 6) back online ahead of schedule is a great example of how we’re Powering Ontario’s Growth,” said Ontario Minister of Energy, Hon. Todd Smith. “We’re already a world leader in clean energy generation and (this) good news only proves that we have the experts and the Made-in-Ontario supply chain to meet increased electrification needs and power our economic growth.”