Pickering nuclear power plant gets a new lease on life

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Published September 30, 2022 at 12:53 am

The Pickering nuclear plant will keep producing after all in a reversal of plans to shut the energy-producing hub down next year.

The Ontario Government has requested Ontario Power Generation (OPG)  review its operational plans. After this review, they concluded they could continue to safely operate the power plant.

“Keeping Pickering safely operating will provide clean, low-cost, and reliable electricity to support the incredible economic growth and new jobs we’re seeing while building a healthier Ontario for everyone,” said Todd Smith, Minister of Energy.

He stressed that nuclear energy has long been safe and the “backbone of Ontario’s electricity system” since the 1970s and that his government is working to secure that legacy for the future. “Our leadership on Small Modular Reactors and consideration of a refurbishment of Pickering Nuclear Generating Station are critical steps on that path.”

The move to continue operations protects roughly 4,500 jobs at the plant and 7,500 total jobs across the province. However, continued operations past 2026 would require a complete refurbishment of the plant and the province has asked Ontario Power Generation to do a refurbishment feasibility assessment.

A refurbishment would allow another 30 years of service from the plant, which will be greatly needed  as Durham Region and Pickering itself are set to grow in population dramatically over the coming decades.

Regional projections indicate Durham will double in population up to 1.7 million people over that period.

The nearby Darlington Nuclear plant in Clarington is currently midway through a $12 billion refurbishment which will extend the life of the plant until 2055 and take the equivalent of two million cars off Ontario’s roads per year by avoiding significant greenhouse gas emissions.

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