Community Matters: Reliability of electricity counts

Living in one of the nicest places in the world (more so in the summer months!), we often look forward to days of warm weather so we can enjoy the outdoors, take some time off with our families and enjoy the amazing Great Lakes we are so lucky to live close to.

However, when we get into longer runs of warm weather in the summer, just as we get into long runs of cold weather in the winter, we really value the reliability of the electricity needs we have. We need electricity to be there when demand is at its peak, and that’s a fair expectation.

I am writing this column on the anniversary of Ontario’s 2003 blackout. When we look back at that day, we remember what it did to our lives without electricity – hospitals, transit, businesses, communications and our way of life grinded to a halt.  I am also looking at a morning report on our electricity supply for what is going to be a hot summer day. The data is live from Ontario’s market operator, the IESO, and they have nuclear generating 12,000 megawatts (MWs), hydro 3,000 MWs, gas 900 MWs, wind 360 MWs and solar 30 MWs to meet about 17,000 MWs of demand.

Where does Ontario get its reliability from? The facts speak for themselves.

To that end, we celebrated an important milestone at Bruce Power in August with Unit 1 achieving a full year of generating low-cost, clean electricity, just four days after setting a new record run of 361 days of continuous operation. The unit, which was returned to service in 2012 after the Bruce A station was shut down by the former Ontario Hydro in the 1990s, continues to set a new record daily through safe, reliable operation.

Unit 1’s previous record run of 360 days was from May 19, 1985 to May 14, 1986. This latest run shows that the commitment the Government of Ontario and Bruce Power to extend the life of its units through refurbishment will provide safe, low-cost, reliable electricity to the people of Ontario for decades to come.

In simple terms, this unit ran continuously for more than a year, generating enough power for about 800,000 Ontario homes. That’s just one of our eight units.

Reliability counts and it’s something we rely on.

As we continue with our investment program, there will be many special interest groups who will continue to attack nuclear. While everyone is entitled to their own opinion and a debate is healthy, we must always keep in mind that reliability counts and the investments we are making today are contributing to a stable electricity system for decades to come.