Community Matters: Looking back, and looking ahead

John Peevers, Director, Community and Media Relations

September represents a momentous time in the history of Bruce Power and this month will also be a harbinger of the bright future ahead for the Clean Energy Frontier.

In 1977, at the height of the disco era with The Emotions’ Best of My Love at the top of the charts, Bruce Power predecessor Ontario Hydro was in its groove, bringing the first Bruce A units online. Units 1 and 2 began producing power Sept. 1, 1977, with Units 3 and 4 following over the next two years.

This was still the infancy of the nuclear industry in Canada, building off the success of Douglas Point, which became the country’s first commercial nuclear reactor to send power to Ontario’s grid a decade earlier in 1967.

Plans for the Bruce A CANDU four-pack were announced in 1968 and construction began in 1969, changing the economic landscape in the Clean Energy Frontier region of Bruce, Grey and Huron counties.

That’s not to say there weren’t some dark times for the region, with the Bruce A units mothballed in the 1990s as Ontario faced its largest surplus capacity of electricity in its history. That was short-lived as Bruce Power was formed in 2001 and assumed operational control of the site, bringing the Bruce A units back online over the next decade and helping Ontario to get off coal and eliminate smog days in the province.

Forty-six years later, the Bruce site is one of the largest operating nuclear sites in the world (the Bruce B units coming online in the mid-1980s) and Bruce Power is set to continue the region’s legacy as it leads Ontario and Canada’s clean-energy future.

In 2015, the company signed an amended agreement with the Independent Electricity System Operator to extend the life of Units 3-8 over the next two decades, securing the long-term future of the site through 2064.

The first Bruce Power unit to undergo refurbishment as part of the company’s Major Component Replacement Project (MCR) and Life Extension was Unit 6.

After years of planning and preparation, that first MCR outage began in 2020 and despite the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, Unit 6 remains on track to be returned to service soon to provide clean, reliable power to the people, businesses and hospitals in Ontario for decades to come.

While we’ve proven that nuclear refurbishment is not only possible but the right thing to do, both with our Bruce A restart and our current MCR project, our federal and provincial governments are recognizing the need to expand our electricity grid exponentially to meet our electrification and clean energy needs for the future.

Fortunately, the Clean Energy Frontier is poised to lead this clean energy charge, beginning from a position of strength with a strong foundation of established infrastructure, community support, expertise and supply partners.