Angela Bischoff —
Ontario Power Generation (OPG) wants to increase the rate it receives for power from its nuclear units by a whopping 30% next year. OPG is basically asking to dig into electricity ratepayer pockets at the rate of $755 million a year to pre-pay for rebuilding its aging Darlington Nuclear Station.
OPG is also asking for a significant increase in the rate it receives for power from its heritage hydro projects—dams and power plants that were built many, many decades ago. Some of this money may be used to update these facilities, but it is just as likely to be used to subsidize the rebuilding of the Darlington plant given the rock bottom costs of operating 60- or 70-year-old water power plants.
According to OPG, its rate increases will raise the average residential customers’ electricity bill by $183 per year.
In other words, OPG is building up a war chest at the expense of ratepayers to pay for a project where costs are simply guesstimates and the chances that the final price tag will soar into the stratosphere are high. Already, OPG has spent almost a billion dollars to re-build Darlington and plans to spend another $1.5 billion over the next two years—and that’s just the start.
Ontario has many lower cost and safer options for meeting its electricity needs, everything from ramping up efficiency and conservation at a cost of about 3 cents a kilowatt-hour (kWh) to importing power from Quebec at a cost of 4 cents a kWh, less than half what even OPG is optimistically promising power from a re-built Darlington Station will cost.
With demand for electricity in Ontario falling—and projected to continue to fall for the foreseeable future—and new technologies rapidly improving both our energy efficiency and the economics of renewable power generation, nuclear is essentially obsolete. And just as you likely wouldn’t try to rebuild your 20-year-old car when you saw the greater reliability and lower operating costs of a new vehicle, we shouldn’t be wasting money re-building outdated reactors.