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GOVERNMENT POWERS UP NUCLEAR AD CAMPAIGN

The Globe and Mail FREEDOM OF INFORMATION

MARTIN MITTELSTAEDT - ENVIRONMENT REPORTER - July 4, 2007

Ontario Power Generation spent nearly $1.2-million since 2004 on advertising the benefits of nuclear and other power sources - about eight times more than the government-owned utility spent extolling its conservation programs.

The figures, obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request made by a private citizen, also showed OPG spending $150,000 so far this year on advertising designed to promote its coal-fired generating stations, even though the Liberal government recently pledged to shut them down because they are such high-polluting sources of electricity.

The utility's advertising is controversial because Ontario is in the midst of a major debate over the future of its electricity sources. The Liberal government and Ontario Power Generation - which supplies 70 per cent of the province's electricity - want to start construction on new nuclear reactors.

It would be the first time since the 1980s that new nuclear stations have been

built, and the proposal has met vociferous opposition from many within the province's powerful environmental movement.

The FOI request was submitted by Michael Polanyi, a Toronto resident. "It was just rising frustration about the number of ads I've been seeing for nuclear energy and promoting it as a clean alternative," Mr. Polanyi said in an interview.

OPG has dramatically stepped up the advertising that promotes various electricity sources. In 2004, it spent only $25,000, almost entirely for its nuclear program. This year, up to May 16, the total had already reached $661,000, with $261,000 earmarked for promoting nuclear power, $250,000 for hydroelectric power and $150,000 for coal.