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Nuclear power plant could boost economy

Dunnville Chronicle: KAREN BEST - October 17, 2007

An economic impact study is forecasting a $550 million boost in Haldimand and Norfolk County economies during construction of a nuclear power plant in the Lake Erie Industrial Park. After nine years of this impact, operation of two reactors can bring in up to $180 million every year.

"The economic impact would just be astronomical for Haldimand County and Norfolk County," said Haldimand County deputy mayor Buck Sloat. "It's not just the direct impact. The spin off is long lasting."

Several weeks ago, Haldimand County council agreed with Sloat's suggestion to undertake an economic impact study on a nuclear power plant. He is the chair of the Nanticoke area power generation committee established by council.

Sloat said the county needed to have a clear understanding of proposed advantages and disadvantages of a plant. The report is self-explanatory in exhibiting "tremendous advantages from the economic impact", he said.

During the nine-year construction period, about 470 people will be on the job and 470 others will be working in other sectors because of the project. On- site construction workers, with 50 per cent from the two counties, will earn $38 million over nine years and with off-site employment the grand total for wages will reach $91 million. Workers will earn $80,000, double Haldimand's average wage based on the 2001 census.

Once the plant is operating, Haldimand and Norfolk County economies will increase by four per cent, or between $150 and $180 million. The plant is expected to employ up to 1,400 with 70 per cent from the two counties. The average wage will be $87,000. With spin off jobs, $85 million more wages can be spent locally on groceries and goods and services in the two counties.

Based on 2005 dollars, the $2.1 million in property taxes will increase county tax revenue by 5.5 per cent and the $2.1 million in education taxes will generate 13 per cent more income for local school boards.

Study author Harry Kitchen, a Trent University economics professor, said Ontario's long term plan to build additional reliable power sources represents a significant opportunity to attract new forms of generation to this area. His report makes several references to Bruce Power data.

Kitchen also said this area has the potential to become "a centre of excellence for clean energy". Nuclear power generation may attract investment in hydrogen or solar power generation, he added.

"The impacts are no surprise to us," said James Scongack, executive assistant to Bruce Power president and chief executive officer Duncan Hawthorne. "The high level numbers are consistent with our experience."

A copy of the economic impact study arrived on Monday at Bruce Power offices located near Kincardine, Ontario.

Earlier this year, Hawthorne announced the company's interest in pursuing an environment assessment for a plant in Nanticoke. Spanning three years, the assessment will cost $20 million.

"We are interested in growing this business," said Scongack.

Both Haldimand and Norfolk Counties unanimously supported the assessment and passed on their positions to the Ontario government. Based on local government support, an environmental assessment should be considered in that area, he said.

An assessment is an opportunity to look further into the site and to explore what the potential plant means to the community, noted Scongack.

New or refurbished plants are required because only 3,000 of 14,000 megawatts of nuclear power will be operating in 2020, he said. The outstanding question is where, he added.

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