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Bruce Power confident of nuclear role in 20-year plan

Shoreline Beacon: TROY PATTERSON - September 12, 2007

Bruce Power is looking at the Ontario Power Authority's 20-year plan as an assurance of nuclear energy's role in providing Ontario with a reliable source of electricity.

The OPA released its plan to the Ontario Energy Board on Aug. 29, with nuclear, natural gas and renewable energy listed as the "cornerstones" of the province's electricity future.

The "milestone" plan, which will be revised every three years to ensure priorities are addressed, is "designed to ensure a reliable, adequate and sustainable long-term electricity supply for the province".

This gives credence to the 14,000 megawatts of projected nuclear capacity at Bruce Nuclear, said Bruce Power president and CEO Duncan Hawthorne.

"We want to see all of Ontario's existing reactors either refurbished or replaced in the next 20 years," he said. "It continues to be a pretty aggressive construction schedule."

With Kincardine coined as the "Powerhouse of Ontario", nuclear plays the most major role, along with the recent influx of the 181-megawatt Enbridge Ontario Wind Power project and Suncor's 76-megawatt wind project near Ripley.

Hawthorne said the Bruce A Unit 1 and 2 restart, the refurbishment of Unit 3 and the complete refurbishment of Unit 4, announced at the end of August, are all "consistent with the plan."

The company also plans to refurbish to Bruce B when necessary, he said, provided it can be done on-time and on-budget. New nuclear generators are also on the agenda, but questions of how much capacity, where they will be built and how they will be funded, are currently being researched.

"The question for us is how much will be passed to the private sector," Hawthorne said. "The opportunities are there for us."

The recent injection of another $1 billion into the $4.25 billion project is a sign the company's private sector investors have faith in the plant's success.

The full refurbishment gives the OPA an additional year to complete the expansion of its Bruce to Milton transmission corridor, Hawthorne said, when all the units at the Bruce A will be on-line.

The Oct. 10 provincial election will play a factor in the plan, Hawthorne said. Each political party has its priorities, with both the Liberals and Conservatives looking favourably on nuclear.

The OPA still plans to phase out coal plants by 2014.