NB Power has asked the province of New Brunswick to approve a proposed C$845 million ($530 million) plan to refurbish the Point Lepreau nuclear plant. The provincially owned energy company expects the proposed project, which is planned to take place from April 2006 to September 2007, to extend the operating lifetime of the reactor by 25 years (see links below).

Ken Little, NB Power vice president of regulatory affairs, said: “Point Lepreau is our main baseload generator with fuel costs that are a fraction of any thermal power plant.” The company said the refurbishment is a key element of its carbon dioxide emission mitigation strategy, enabling the province to meet emissions targets in the Kyoto accord. Although other options are available to meet these targets, NB Power said the refurbishment plan is the lowest cost option that will still allow the company to meet New Brunswick’s growing electricity demand.

Since it began commercial operation in 1983, the 635MWe reactor has provided 30% of the electricity used in New Brunswick.