Community Matters: Considering new nuclear an exciting opportunity

John Peevers, Director, Community and Media Relations

The Ontario government made waves on the shores of Lake Huron last month with the announcement that it supports the advancement of the long-term planning and consultation work required to explore nuclear expansion options on the Bruce Power site.

While Energy Minister Todd Smith’s announcement certainly caught the attention of people across the province and throughout our region, it’s clear there’s no way to support the province’s electrification without the current baseload energy the industry provides and there will be no way to keep up with future clean energy needs unless it expands.

On the heels of the announcement, the government released its Powering Ontario’s Growth plan, which outlines how, for the first time since 2005, Ontario’s electricity demand is rising and will continue to rise for decades to come.

According to the Independent Electricity System Operator’s (IESO) Pathways to Decarbonization report, Ontario may need to more than double its electricity generating capacity, from 42,000 megawatts (MW) today to 88,000 MW in 2050. Up to 20,000 MW in capacity may be needed just to replace generation that will come to the end of its life or be phased out over the next three decades.

The growth plan outlines the need for diverse electricity system to be able to meet Ontario’s clean-energy goals going forward, including nuclear, hydroelectric (including pumped storage), natural gas, solar, wind and bioenergy.

With more than 20 years of experience as a nuclear operator, Bruce Power is uniquely positioned to play an integral role in addressing the province’s growing clean-energy needs. The Bruce site already provides 30 per cent of Ontario’s clean energy but also comes with a large body of environmental research, significant space for expansion, existing transmission corridors, strong community support and an experienced workforce.

Of course, the planning for a new nuclear build would include a great deal of time, effort and community input on the impacts this will have in our region, including meaningful involvement and consultation with the communities that surround the Bruce site and the Indigenous communities who have inhabited this territory since time immemorial.

And that’s what we’re going to do.

While in its infancy, planning for the possibility for a new nuclear build in the Clean Energy Frontier region of Bruce, Grey, and Huron counties has the potential to drive economic growth and prosperity, good jobs and lead the charge in supporting the province’s future clean-energy needs.

As the Hon. Lisa Thompson, Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, and MPP for Huron-Bruce said following our July 5 announcement, “the benefits of and belief in nuclear energy are truly generational in mid-western Ontario. These consultations are an integral step in facilitating further growth of our clean energy sector, creating good jobs close to home and ensuring Ontarians have an energy supply they can depend on.”