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On January 1, 2017, Ontario’s new cap and trade program came into effect.
In a general sense, the program taxes operations that generate large volumes of greenhouse gases (GHGs). It then redirects the tax revenue to new investments meant to reduce GHGs. In its broadest sense, it places a value on carbon. Since this program has taken effect, we’ve been getting a lot of questions about what it means for Bruce Power and nuclear in general.
Vice President Corporate Affairs
As a clean electricity producer, Bruce Power will not receive any of the proceeds from this program. We receive a fixed price for our electricity and will not financially benefit from this program. However, what cap and trade does do is further re-enforce the value of clean sources of generation, with the largest in Ontario being nuclear – about 60% of our electricity in 2016.
Bruce Power’s continued role in the supply mix will avoid costs to ratepayers as the only possible replacement to nuclear output would be from fossil fuels such as coal or natural gas. We avoid millions of tonnes of greenhouse gases annually by generating 30% of Ontario’s electricity at 30% less than the average price of power.
Avoiding millions of tonnes of greenhouse gases from Bruce Power nuclear means avoided costs for ratepayers under cap and trade.
In fact, according to a report released by the Asthma Society, between 2017 and 2064, the end-of-life of the Bruce Power units, clean nuclear, when compared to alternatives, will avoid between $12 billion and $63 billion in carbon costs that ratepayers would have to fund if this output was replaced by fossil fuels. This is based on a range of carbon pricing options as there is consensus by experts the cost of carbon will only increase.
Putting this into perspective, Bruce Power is spending $13 billion through our Life-Extension Program that will see our site operate through 2064.
While cap and trade is a widely debated issue, what is clear is that the clean nature of nuclear power will continue to have long-term value as a critical source of electricity that provides low-cost, stable prices first and foremost, and also keeps clean the air we breathe.
Sometimes we think of environmental issues in the abstract around cost and GHG figures, like I just did above. However, let’s never forget that thousands of Ontarians suffer from asthma and other respiratory conditions. Clean electricity from Bruce Power means fewer smog days, cleaner air and healthier communities. I met a young name named Matthew during our work with the Asthma Society who shared his story in one of our TV ads about what clean air means to him – that’s more meaningful than any of these numbers, as he can now go outside in the summer and breathe.
This is something you can’t put a price on, and something every Bruce Power employee is proud of.
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Friday, February 24, 2017