OPG in the Community – March, 2020

   Fred Kuntz

Nuclear “front and centre”: Advocates for clean energy were pleased to hear a ringing endorsement of nuclear power from federal Natural Resources Minister Seamus O’Regan at last week’s annual conference of the Canadian Nuclear Association. Noting that no credible plan has come forward to achieve carbon “net zero” without nuclear energy in the mix, O’Regan said: “As the world tackles a changing climate, nuclear power is poised to provide the next wave of clean, affordable, safe and reliable power.”

Bruce-area businesses and governments were well-represented at the sold-out Ottawa conference, with delegates from Ontario Power Generation (OPG), Bruce Power, Kincardine, Saugeen Shores, Huron-Kinloss, Brockton and Bruce County, as well as many supplier companies. Other inspiring moments from the conference:

Ontario Energy Minister Greg Rickford, and his counterparts from Saskatchewan and New Brunswick, reiterated their commitment to work together in developing Small Modular Reactors (SMRs) in Ontario, Canada and globally: “Together with our partners, we’re working to ensure that Canada remains at the forefront of nuclear innovation.”

Top executives of electrical utilities agreed that Ontario is a good model for creating a cleaner electricity grid. Attendees at the panel on “Getting to Net Zero” were told that, thanks to Ontario’s significant reliance on nuclear and hydro (and no coal since 2014), Ontario’s carbon per megawatt-hour is only about 45 grams (versus, for example, about 500 grams in California and 245 grams in Germany), while Ontario’s price is only about 12.5 cents per megawatt-hour (versus 30 cents and 24 cents in those other jurisdictions, respectively) – with nuclear in Ontario, at only 8 cents, helping to mitigate the relatively higher costs of wind and solar.

Co-founder of the Indigenous Professional Association, Gabrielle Scrimshaw, of the Dene Nation, told the story of her journey from a hard childhood in northern Saskatchewan to becoming a successful Indigenous entrepreneur, with support from a few key people whose “small, everyday actions” – such as simply stating a belief in her potential – were “life-changing.” She spoke about the need for nation-to-nation reconciliation, requiring “hard work” across multiple generations, including through meaningful consultation, equitable employment and employee training.

Answering questions:  OPG continues with its current round of delegations to municipal councils, to brief elected officials on its regular operations at the Western Waste Management Facility, and other company activities. Check your local municipal websites for council meeting locations and times. Next up are Arran-Elderslie and Saugeen Shores on March 9th, Brockton on March 10th, and Huron-Kinloss on March 16th.

Around Ontario and beyond:

·         On track, on budget: Refurbishment of Unit 2 at Darlington Nuclear Generating Station is 95 per cent complete, and the reactor is on track to once again start producing carbon-free, reliable power for Ontario in the second quarter of 2020. Work on Unit 3 at Darlington Nuclear Generating Station is set to begin early in the second quarter. “We’ve taken note of more than 3,500 lessons learned from the first unit’s refurbishment and have been incorporating them into our plans for Unit 3 and subsequent units – all toward ensuring the project remains on course,” said Jeff Richardson, Senior Vice President, Nuclear Projects.

·         System improvements: An investigation confirmed that human error at Ontario’s Emergency Management System caused a false emergency alert regarding the Pickering Nuclear Generating Station on January 12.  The province said it has already undertaken “significant corrective action in key areas, including planning, procedures, operations, communications and staff training” in its emergency system. OPG’s Pickering station, scheduled to end operations in the mid-2020s, has experienced its best year ever for performance, earning the highest safety rating in an international peer review.

·         Northern development: Several companies including OPG are working together on community-based infrastructure projects with Indigenous communities in northern Ontario. “We’re excited to be working with Matawa First Nations on developing community-based projects that benefit and explore economic development in their region,” said Heather Ferguson, OPG’s Senior Vice-President of Corporate Affairs. The formal collaboration with MDC, a wholly owned corporation of the Matawa First Nations member communities, will support growth in the region 450 kilometres north of Thunder Bay.