Natural Resources Canada (NRCan) has announced funds of up to CAD50m ($36.8m) to support Ontario’s plan to maintain a clean energy grid while continuing to drive economic development and support Indigenous and community consultation. The funds will support pre-development work to study the feasibility new nuclear build at the Bruce Power site. This is in line with the federal government’s Powering Canada Forward plan.

“The federal government is acting on our commitment to build a net-zero economy that provides clean electricity, economic growth, and good jobs for all Canadians,” Minister of Energy & Natural Resources Jonathan Wilkinson told the Canadian Nuclear Association (CNA) annual conference. “To help us get there, we are working with the Government of Ontario to ensure Ontario is positioned to achieve a clean, reliable and affordable electricity grid with the expectation that it will comply with the forthcoming federal clean electricity regulations.” He added: “Bruce Power has experienced years of success with nuclear energy in Ontario, and this announcement will enable that success to continue, and grow, in the future. This means more reliable and affordable electricity for Canadians, and good jobs and economic opportunities for communities across Ontario.”

At the province’s request, Bruce Power is currently undergoing a federal Impact Assessment (IA) process as a planning tool to evaluate the potential for an additional 4,800 MWe at the Bruce Power site – a project referred to as Bruce C. This multi-year process includes Indigenous and public engagement, environmental and socio-economic studies, and permitting activities. Although no decision has yet been made to advance a new build, Bruce Power says this "no-regret" action is an important step to support future electricity planning and allow faster execution should a decision to proceed be made.

Ontario’s Minister of Energy, Todd Smith, noted: “New nuclear generation, like the first large-scale nuclear build in a generation at Bruce Power, supported by this investment by the federal government, will ensure we have the reliable, affordable and clean electricity we need to support the next major international investment, the new homes we are building, and industries – like our steel producers – as they grow and electrify.”

Bruce Power continues to operate its existing eight-unit fleet while progressing the on-time and on-budget completion of its Life-Extension Program and Major Component Replacement (MCR) projects to renew units 3-8 at its Bruce A and B stations. Units 1&2 have already been refurbished. Mike Rencheck, Bruce Power’s President & CEO said: “This pre-development funding for new nuclear at the Bruce site is a great example of how the federal and provincial governments are working together with the private sector, supporting early Indigenous and community engagement, planning and support for pre-development activities for clean-energy projects that will allow us to meet climate goals to benefit Ontario and all Canadians for the long term.”

Bruce Power said support for expanding role of the Bruce Power site would be based on the following five principles:

  • Extending the operation of the eight Bruce Power operating units to continue producing clean energy and isotopes until 2064 and beyond.
  • Through the Life-Extension Program and Project 2030 investments, increasing net peak output of the existing units to 7,000 MWe for the 2030s – equivalent to adding a large-scale reactor using current infrastructure.
  • Pursuing an Impact Assessment (IA) as a planning tool to evaluate the potential for an additional 4,800 MWe at the Bruce Power site and committing to open and transparent engagement with Indigenous communities, the local tri-county region and the public prior to any decision-making.
  • Undertaking a robust technology review process to provide sound guidance for potential future decisions and milestones.
  • Positioning economic development/partnerships, localisation, supply chain and workforce development as key priorities especially in rural communities.

NRCan said Bruce Power will use the federal funding to support important project pre-development work, including the completion of an Impact Assessment and Licence to Prepare Site application; early engagement activities with local municipalities and Indigenous communities; and technical, environmental and engineering studies and evaluations.

It added: “This investment comes as the Governments of Canada and Ontario are working together on the Canada-Ontario Regional Table collaboration framework, with priorities that include advancing the nuclear industry in Ontario, along with joint actions on electrification, critical minerals, hydrogen, and the forest sector, as well an improved permitting process and increased regulatory effectiveness and efficiency to get clean energy projects online in time to meet rising demand.”

Canada and Ontario are also continuing to work collaboratively on the draft Clean Electricity Regulations with the goal of ensuring the final regulation will maintain Ontarians’ access to a reliable, affordable and clean electricity system.

These actions build on steps already taken by both governments to meet emerging energy needs, including the following initiatives from the Government of Canada:

  • A CAD970m investment from the Canada Infrastructure Bank to advance Canada’s first grid-scale small modular reactor (SMR) at Ontario Power Generation’s (OPG) Darlington site;
  • NRCan’s Electricity Predevelopment Programme – which is a CAD250m programme to support pre-development activities of clean electricity projects.
  • CAD4.5bn of investments under the Smart Renewables and Electrification Pathways Program (SREPs;
  • Regulatory tools such as the Clean Electricity Regulations, on which the Government of Canada and Ontario continue to collaborate to support the development of a clean, reliable and affordable grid;
  • A 15% refundable Investment Tax Credit for Clean Electricity for eligible investments in nuclear generation for new builds and refurbishment.

This also includes the following initiatives from the Government of Ontario:

  • Procuring 4,000 MWe of new electricity generation and storage resources.
  • Rolling out
    CAD342m in new and enhanced energy efficiency programmes.
  • Supporting OPG’s refurbishment of the Pickering Nuclear Generating Station.
  • Building four grid-scale SMRs, including at OPG’s Darlington site.
  • Establishing an Electrification & Energy Transition Panel to advise the government on how it can continue to leverage Ontario’s clean grid and innovative energy sector to power Ontario’s growing economy.

NRCan noted: “Through their strategic investments and initiatives, the Governments of Canada and Ontario will continue to work together to position Ontario and Canada as a global supplier of clean energy and new technologies, while creating new opportunities, good jobs and a clean, reliable, and affordable electrical grid for all.”


Image: Jonathan Wilkinson, Canada's Minister of Energy & Natural Resources (left), accompanied by Todd Smith, Ontario's Minister of Energy, and Mike Rencheck, President & CEO of Bruce Power, announces the funding (courtesy of Bruce Power)