Bruce Power confident;

The Owen Sound Sun Times: MARIA CANTON - June 30 2009

Officials at Bruce Power say they remain confident in the Ontario government's commitment to nuclear energy, despite yesterday's decision to indefinitely suspend the process to build two new reactors at the Darlington plant east of Toronto.

Spokesman Steve Cannon said yesterday the announcement instead brings into focus the strength and importance of Bruce Power's contribution to Ontario's energy needs.

"If there are not going to be new Darlington units coming online as early as expected, it really puts the focus on us to continue to have a strong performance here and to make sure the province does get the emissions-free nuclear energy they're looking for because obviously this is a government that's looking to find ways of generating electricity without adding to greenhouse gases," said Cannon.

"We feel some responsibility and we've always been focused on that and we will continue to make sure we do our part."

Bruce Power is the country's first private nuclear generating company and produces more than 20% of Ontario's electricity.

The facility had hoped to be tagged as the site for the new reactors when the work was announced last June, but instead the McGuinty government chose Darlington, in part because there isn't sufficient transmission line capacity from Bruce Power to southern Ontario. Hydro One is seeking to enhance the Bruce to Milton transmission line.

Bruce Power has been exploring the possibility of building new reactors in Alberta, Saskatchewan and more recently in the Nanticoke area on Lake Erie, but according to Cannon it's too soon to say if the decision to suspend the Darlington reactors will benefit their case.

"We will continue on with our preparation and business planning to see what does make sense for us and what does help with the strength of our own," said Cannon.

"I don't want to say (the Darlington decision) is completely separate from us because obviously it's the same industry, but that was a process they were following and we're following our own and I don't think that changes ours."

The government's decision came as a surprise to many, but Energy and Infrastructure Minister George Smitherman said the government remains committed to "the modernization of Ontario's nuclear fleet."

"Emission-free nuclear power remains a crucial aspect of Ontario's supply mix," Smitherman said in a statement.

"Unfortunately, the competitive bidding process has not provided Ontario with a suitable option at this time."

The province received three submissions to a request for proposals (RFP) for the Darlington reactors, but only one, from Atomic Energy of Canada, complied with the terms of the RFP and the government's objectives, according to a news release from the province.

Concerns about pricing and the uncertainty regarding the company's future prevented the province from continuing at this time, according to the release.

Bruce Power is working to restart two reactors late next year that are being refurbished, an initiative that will cost upward of $3 billion. After that the company will look at refurbishing more, or, once again at the possibility of building new reactors.

The news came on the same day the Toronto Star published a story about a safety incident at Bruce Power in which close to half a tonne of steel fell 20 metres after the brakes gave out on a crane.

The incident was logged in a plant safety briefing on May 12 and said, "the fact that this was a near-miss in human terms was mere luck."

While CEO Duncan Hawthorne called it a "significant failure," he said it did not create any danger to the public.

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