The Ontario Sustainable Energy Association (OSEA) has released a report titled “Nuclear Power: Where’s the Business Case?” that calls for the Ontario Minister of Energy to cease subsidies to nuclear projects, and adopt a “degression model” which phases out all premiums paid for new renewable energy projects during the next decade (German-style Feed-in tariffs use a ‘degression’ formula that decreases the premium paid for renewable power generation when certain targets of new installed generation are met. This incents new development, establishes predictability in the market for developers and ensures that ratepayers are protected from paying too much as the cost of the technology falls).
Currently, new green power purchases for hundreds of Feed-in Tariff program projects collectively will cost Ontarians $220 million per year — but pending repairs at the Darlington nuclear plant alone will cost $10 billion. Building new nuclear reactors at Darlington is calculated to add a minimum of $26 billion or more to public debt.
“Ontario’s green power sector is poised to provide the clean energy and manufacturing jobs our economy needs,” said Kristopher Stevens, OSEA’s Executive Director. “An apples to apples comparison is not only fair, it is the smart thing to do. Renewables can’t compete fairly against the billions in hidden subsidies that nuclear projects enjoy. No Ontarian should have to choose between nuclear plants with serious safety risks, or green power which poses few if any safety risks.”
OSEA’s report notes that existing and proposed CANDU reactors have a serious safety design flaw that prohibits any from being licensed to operate in the United States. OSEA has asked the Minister to reject any new nuclear plant builds that involve subsidies or the “positive void reactivity” flaw in safety design.
The OSEA report documents that no Ontario CANDU reactor was built on time or on budget, with average construction cost 150 per cent higher than originally projected. The last nuclear plant built, Darlington, was $11 billion over budget and took 15 years to complete.
If past history repeats, the planned new reactors at Darlington could cost Ontarians $36 billion. But no power would be delivered until 2020 at the earliest.
“It is common sense, that all new sources of electricity generation will be more expensive than those built four decades ago,” said Stevens. “But the cost curves for solar and wind projects are descending sharply, while nuclear costs are increasing. This should be the real focus of all political parties, and the public, when discussing energy costs.”
“We trust this report will motivate Ontarians to learn more about the options available and the big choices we have to make,” said Stevens. “Together we can plot a course where every Ontarian has the opportunity to be a green energy generator and lower their bills through conservation.”