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New nuclear plants go to Darlington: Haldimand, Norfolk pushed Nanticoke

The Hamilton Spectator: Daniel Nolan - June 17, 2008

The Nanticoke Generating Station is out of the running for the location of Ontario's new nuclear reactors.

In a not surprising move, Energy Minister Gerry Phillips announced yesterday two new reactors will be built alongside the existing Darlington plant in Durham Region, east of Toronto.

Haldimand and Norfolk counties had been lobbying the Ontario government to consider Nanticoke as a site for nuclear reactors because the coal-fired power plant is set to close in 2014.

It is the largest coal-fired plant in North America and also one of the worst polluters.

But the province had indicated new reactors would likely be built in communities where nuclear plants and willing hosts already exist -- the Darlington plant near Bowmanville and the Bruce plant near Port Elgin.

Phillips reiterated that position in March in response to letters from Haldimand and Norfolk asking Premier Dalton McGuinty for permission to start an environmental assessment on locating a nuclear plant in Nanticoke.

Haldimand Mayor Marie Trainer declined to say how she feels about the decision.

The Nanticoke plant employs 600 people and pays $3 million in taxes.

She was coy last night that something else was in the works, but wouldn't elaborate. She was happy, however, for the Bowmanville area. "I know they were asking for it," she said.

Three firms-- Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd., American giant Westinghouse and Areva NP of France -- have been asked to submit bids by October. A final decision on which company -- and which technology -- will be made by the end of the year.

Phillips said he would not be able to put a price on the two units until after the bidding process is done.

"I think the public expects that we are going to, on their behalf, get the best possible deal. We're asking all three (bidders) to sharpen their pencils."

In Burlington last night, New Democrat energy critic Peter Tabuns said the new reactors are just too expensive. The Toronto-area MPP, and potential NDP leadership candidate, said people forget about the huge cost overruns faced in building the first reactors in Ontario.

"The experience in Ontario in investing in nuclear is that, until Darlington, every nuclear power plant we built came in at double the estimate," he told a meeting of the Burlington Provincial NDP Association.

"With Darlington, it came in at four times. We here in Ontario are about to throw the multibillion dollar dice to determine what our future is going to be, and our prosperity is going to be, and we're doing it with a technology that was the high point, maybe of the 20th century."

He said other countries, and U.S. states, are far ahead of Ontario in developing renewable energy that is considered the new energy for the 21st century. He said he was recently in Pennsylvania and learned it has one plant employing 1,400 to build wind turbines and another employing 3,000 to build solar panel components. He said if Ontario can design and build cars, it has the smarts to develop a green economy.

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