TIVERTON – A series of announcements last week made clear the province’s long-term commitment to nuclear energy, and Bruce County will play a key role in that commitment.

Todd Smith, Ontario’s minister of energy, announced the government is starting the planning and consultation process for the first new large-scale nuclear development in the province in three decades. 

He stated, “Where better… than in Bruce County?”

Smith made the announcement during a press conference Wednesday, July 5 at Bruce Power.

Smith said the project would supply 4,800 megawatts – enough to power 4.8 million homes, and will bring with it thousands of new jobs. He noted pre-development work for a new nuclear project takes at least a decade, although his government will “try to get this work done quickly and efficiently.”

Mike Rencheck, president and CEO of Bruce Power, said, “This is a great day for the province, and for Bruce Power.”

Rencheck noted the province’s “stable energy policy” has made it possible for Bruce Power’s advances in recent years, not only through the life extension program, but in the production of medical isotopes. “It enables us to plan for the future” for a “made in Canada, made in Ontario solution” to supply growing energy needs. 

In a press release following the announcement, Rencheck was quoted as saying, “Nuclear power has been the stable backbone of Ontario’s clean
electricity system for decades and Bruce Power is ready to play an integral role in addressing the province’s clean energy needs, while supporting good jobs and economic prosperity for the future.”

Bruce Power produces 30 per cent of Ontario’s electricity.

“This Bruce site is the logical site” for new nuclear development, said Kincardine Mayor Kenneth Craig. He further stated that this is the opportunity for both the province and mayors of local municipalities to say, “We are ready.”

Craig also spoke about nuclear energy being key “to the path forward to help the province reach its energy goals.”

MPP Lisa Thompson addressed those in attendance at the conference from outside the area, saying, “Welcome to the Bruce; this is where it’s at!”

Thompson commented that “we are absolutely making sure, for years to come, that Ontario benefits from clean, reliable energy.”

Thompson stressed the environmental payoff from using nuclear – the clear, sunny day. She recalled a time in Kincardine when “we knew the air was clear if you could see Douglas Point.” There was no problem doing that the day of the announcement.

The province is growing, and with it, energy needs. Todd said that for the first time since 2005, the demand for electricity in Ontario is increasing.

Said Todd, “With our plan already in place to meet demand this decade, we are… looking to the future,” to ensure the province has the clean, affordable, reliable power it needs to meet energy needs into the 2030s and ‘40s.

“This is just phase one,” he said.

The province’s commitment to nuclear energy was made even more clear with an announcement July 7 that it’s planning three more small modular reactors at the Darlington site.

This is in addition to the one already being built.

The path to net zero

Earlier this year, the Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO) stated in its Pathways to Decarbonization report the need to double capacity while meeting emission reduction targets. The report focused on the province’s need to take action and begin the planning process now for expanded nuclear generation.

The province’s energy minister struck an Electrification and Energy Transition Panel to advise the government on opportunities to meet the growing need for non-emission electricity.

Bruce County responded with a motion at the April 6 meeting by Luke Charbonneau, mayor of Saugeen Shores, calling on the county to suggest Bruce County as “ideally suited to advise the Minister’s Panel and the government on public consultation and other considerations when it comes to siting new nuclear facilities in Ontario.”

“This is a great opportunity for Bruce County to position itself in a rapidly changing nuclear world,” commented Craig, who seconded the motion.

Charbonneau further called on the province to prioritize existing nuclear sites for consideration as potential locations for building new nuclear facilities – in particular, Bruce County, host to the world’s largest nuclear power generating station.

Said Charbonneau, “The key thing here is it’s clearly been identified… the need for new nuclear generation to support the increasing electrification of our province and it creates… a really good opportunity for communities like ours to renew our goal for new-built nuclear at the Bruce site and potentially for other nuclear host communities across Ontario… I think there’s great opportunity now not only for small modular reactors but also for… new CANDU reactors in Ontario.”

The July 5 announcement elicited a brief, measured speech by Craig at the July 6 meeting of Bruce County council.

He spoke about the pre-development and consultation work for the new build, and the province’s investment in energy capacity. Craig also commented on the financial realities of the new nuclear development at the Bruce site. 

“Kincardine can’t deal with this on our own,” he said. 

Craig stressed the need for affected municipalities to work closely with the county, as the project moves forward.

County Coun. Milt McIver, Northern Bruce Peninsula, commented, “This is an exciting announcement, for sure.”

By Pauline Kerr, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Original Published on Jul 14, 2023 at 07:20

This item reprinted with permission from   The Herald-Times   Walkerton, Ontario
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