Ontario’s Financial Accountability Office (FAO) is drawing fire for questionable assumptions behind its conclusion yesterday that refurbishing 10 nuclear reactors will cost the province C$25 billion in current dollars, but eventually deliver below-average costs to power consumers.
Rebuilding the Bruce, Darlington, and Pickering nuclear stations—a project begun last year and expected to run until 2033—will mean that the “Nuclear Price [sic] will be higher than the average price of $80.7/MWh during the majority of the time that the reactors are being refurbished,” the FAO concludes. Thereafter, however, “ratepayers will benefit from a lower than average Nuclear Price.”
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Overall, the agency asserts, the refurbished plants will “provide ratepayers with a long-term supply of relatively low-cost, low-emissions electricity.”
The Ontario Clean Air Alliance, which opposes the plan to extend the nuclear stations’ lives, promptly challenged several of the assumptions on which the FAO based its conclusions.
“The FAO assumes the price of nuclear power will peak at 9.5 cents per kilowatt-hour,” the group wrote in an email statement, “despite the fact that Ontario Power Generation [which owns the Pickering and Darlington plants] is seeking to raise its price of nuclear power to 16.5 cents per kWh.”
The Accountability Office also “assumes that the cost of importing [hydroelectric] power from Quebec would be 12 to 16 cents per kWh, despite the fact that last year Ontario and Quebec signed a seven-year electricity supply contract for two billion kWh per year at a price of five cents per kWh,” which Hydro-Québec offered to extend to 20 years at the same price.
The Alliance mocks the FAO’s assumption that the final cost of the rebuilding program will escalate by no more than 50% above the current estimate, pointing out that “every nuclear project in Ontario’s history has gone massively over budget—on average by 2.5 times.”
OCAA also accuses the Accountability Office of exaggerating the cost of increasing interprovincial transmission capacity to take advantage of Quebec’s cheaper hydro. The FAO claimed a figure of $2 billion for what another report estimated could done for $1.6 billion, and would in either case be “a fraction of the cost of rebuilding reactors.”
The Alliance previously reported that 82% of Ontarians would rather buy hydro from Quebec than extend the life of their province’s nuclear stations.