Open letter to Premier Wynne re: Bruce Power deal

Categories: News
Published on: January 15, 2015

Ontario Clean Air Alliance / 13 January 2015

Dear Premier Wynne:

Since December 2013 the Ontario Power Authority (OPA) and Bruce Power have been secretly negotiating a long-term electricity supply contract to finance the re-building of the aging Bruce B Nuclear Station reactors.

If this deal is signed it will be largest private sector contract ever signed by the Government of Ontario. According to our estimates, it would cost the province’s electricity consumers between $60 billion and $111 billion over thirty years and it would ensure that Ontario remains dependent on higher cost nuclear energy until 2050 and beyond.

The Bruce B Nuclear Station is owned by the Ontario Municipal Employees Retirement System (61.38%), TransCanada Corporation (31.6%), the Power Workers’ Union (5.26%) and the Society of Energy Professionals (1.75%).

The OPA’s employees are members of the Society of Energy Professionals.

It is our submission that the proposed Bruce B Re-Build contract should be publicly reviewed by the Ontario Energy Board (OEB) to determine if it is in the best interests of Ontario’s electricity consumers. In particular, an OEB review is necessary to answer the following questions:

  • Is the project needed given Ontario’s falling demand for electricity? Since 2005 Ontario’s total annual electricity demand has fallen by 10%, despite the fact that our GDP has grown by 8.5%, and it appears likely that our electricity demand will continue to fall as our electricity productivity continues to rise, in part thanks to your government’s Conservation First commitment.
  • Is the project needed given Ontario’s forecast rising supply of renewable and gas-fired generation, including the TransCanada gas-fired power plant in Napanee?
  • Will the project exacerbate Ontario’s surplus base load supply problem? Will it entail increased electricity sales to the U.S. at a financial loss?
  • Will the contract allow Bruce Power to pass some or all of its cost overruns on to consumers and/or taxpayers? If yes, what percentage of the cost overruns will be passed on? Every nuclear project in Ontario’s history has gone massively over budget – on average by 2.5 times. According to your Government’s Long-Term Energy Plan, the Bruce B contract must minimize “commercial risk on the part of ratepayers and government.” However, we have yet to see concrete steps taken to enforce this condition for the similar Darlington Re-Build Project. More than 90% of the Darlington project is being pursued outside of fixed cost contracts.
  • Could some or all of our electricity needs be met at a lower cost by additional investments in energy conservation and efficiency? According to your Government’s Conservation First policy, Ontario will pursue all cost-effective energy conservation and efficiency resources before investing in new supply.
  • Could some or all of our electricity needs be met at a lower cost by water power imports from Quebec? According to your Government’s Long-Term Energy Plan, Ontario will “pursue contractual arrangements for firm imports where cost effective and well matched to Ontario’s electricity needs.” Significant transmission capacity could be enabled to allow for such imports at a relatively modest cost compared to the cost of reactor re-builds.
  • According to the Long-Term Energy Plan, the existing Bruce B reactors will not come to the end of their lives until 2022 and beyond. Is it reasonable to assume that wind and/or solar may be lower cost electricity supply options by 2022? Could Quebec’s existing hydro-electric storage capacity be used to transform wind and solar from intermittent to “firm” base-load electricity resources?
  • Would the Bruce B contract cause our electricity rates to rise? If yes, by how much and when?

These very important questions need to be clearly and publicly answered before we enter into any deal with Bruce Power. The Bruce Nuclear Generating Station is an asset owned by the people of Ontario and liability for waste produced and accidents at the plant remains with Ontario citizens. It is only appropriate that the future of these aging reactors be subject to a full public review.

Yours sincerely,

Jack Gibbons

Angela Bischoff
Outreach Director