Ontario wants cheaper reactor deal

The Toronto Sun: JONATHAN JENKINS - July 15, 2009

Ontario is hopeful it can convince both the federal government and Atomic Energy Canada Ltd. to craft a deal for two new nuclear reactors at Darlington at a price the province's taxpayers can afford.

"There are real prospects," Premier Dalton McGuinty told reporters in Port Hope yesterday. "We've got some common ground on which we can work together."

Just two weeks ago, Energy and Infrastructure Minister George Smitherman announced Ontario was putting its nuclear refurbishment on hold because the price was "several billions" more than expected.

It had been estimated the province would spend about $26 billion over the next 20 years renewing its nuclear fleet so it could continue to provide about 36% of Ontario's electrical needs.

But there are now reports AECL -- the best of three bids for the Darlington work -- wanted $26 billion for those two reactors alone.

Both Smitherman and McGuinty refused to confirm those numbers.

But talks with both AECL and the federal government are continuing. As well, declining electrical demand due to the recession and conservation efforts mean the immediate need for action has lessened, the premier said.

Critics say the feds shouldn't subsidize Ontario's electricity with tax money from the rest of the country.

"The Harper government must say 'no' to Ontario's request for a $20-billion nuclear bailout and force the McGuinty government to invest in cost-effective green power options instead of wasting taxpayer dollars on expensive reactors," Greenpeace's Shawn Patrick-Stensil said in a press release.