A report by the Financial Accountability Office (FAO) of Ontario, Canada, has concluded that the Ontario government’s nuclear refurbishment plan is the most cost-efficient option to provide base electricity power for the foreseeable future. Energy Minister Glenn Thibeault said in a statement on 21 November that the report confirms that his government has carefully considered the nuclear projects proposed for by Bruce Power and Ontario Power Generation (OPG).
OPG began the CAD12.8bn ($10bn) refurbishment of its four-unit Darlington station in October 2016, which will enable the reactors to operate until 2055. Work on Darlington 2 is almost 40% complete, and the project remains on time and budget, according to OPG. Bruce Power's Life Extension Programme began in January 2016 and will see the investment of CAD$13bn into six of Bruce Power’s eight reactors, allowing the plant to operate until 2064.
The FAO estimates that the CAD25bn ($19.6bn) plan would provide long-term electricity from 2016 to 2064 at an average price of CAD80.70 per MWh at 2017 prices. The cost is higher than the current rate for nuclear power but still cheaper than the other options.
The FAO considered the financial risks to the refurbishment plan, including cost overruns, higher-than-anticipated operating costs, lower-than-expected electricity demand, and the potential for another lower-cost, low-emissions generation option to emerge. "There are currently no alternative generation portfolios that could provide the same supply of low-emissions baseload electricity generation at a comparable price to the Nuclear Refurbishment Plan," the report notes.
Bruce Power and OPG have welcomed the report. It also validates that refurbishing Bruce and Darlington is the "best generating option to keep costs low for electricity customers and to protect the environment," the companies said in a joint statement.