Wednesday, April 23, 2008

The Rough and the Smooth in Canada

An editorial in the Ottawa Citizen offers some surprises.

Here's the rough:

The latest fiasco in the world of nuclear is that the rehabilitation of Bruce Power units 1 and 2 is running up to 24 per cent over cost estimates. That could mean extra costs of between $350 million and $650 million on the $2.75-billion project. Ontario taxpayers are on the hook for the first $300 million of overruns and then a quarter of the cost after that. Bruce Power is owned by TransCanada Corp. and the Ontario Municipal Employees Retirement System. Already the provincial auditor has said that Queen's Park didn't drive a tough enough deal on the Bruce plan.

Worth noting here is the differences between the U.S. and Canada, with government (and taxpayers) taking a heavier role in costs and cost overruns in the energy sector than would happen in the U.S. Add to this the difference between Canada's provinces and U.S. states, where provinces go their own way far more than states do.

Here's the smooth:

That said, it would be nice to have a large nuclear industry in Ontario based on a prosperous AECL [Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd.]. Nuclear is expected to be a huge economic generator in the future so it would be an enormous plus to the Ontario economy. And AECL has a revolutionary new ACR reactor designed to use less uranium and generate less spent fuel.

So what to do? The province needs to have a competitive, fair bidding process including as many worldwide companies as possible to ensure the best deal.

Hey! Wait a minute! Shouldn't the argument be that nuclear energy is too expensive, here's an unexpected expense, for pete's sake, so kill the whole project and right now, buddy, if not sooner. That's the argument that the enviro's keep hammering at and frankly, that's what the first part of the editorial leads one to expect.

But read this again:

Nuclear is expected to be huge economic generator in the future so it would be an enormous plus to the Ontario economy.

And there it is. The cost of a nuclear energy plant is, admittedly, not peanuts, but the benefits are the size of an elephant - not only in what it does itself - loads of clean energy at a reasonable price - but in the way its presence ripples through the economy in positive ways.

We posted a little while ago an NEI-produced economic benefits report about Virginia's North Anna Power Station. Take another look at it and you'll see arguments the industry has been making for years now taking root in editorials like this. Now, arguments that take root do not necessarily result in tall, healthy trees - we've seen a lot of mangled shrubs around the yard, often planted by our environmental friends ironically enough - but these arguments are good and they are rooted in truth. And the fruit is mighty tasty.

1 comment:

DV8 2XL said...

According to the Canadian Nuclear FAQ we seem to do a lot better overseas than at home on nuclear projects

1996 Cernavoda-1 Romania On budget, on schedule

1997 Wolsong-2 South Korea On budget, on schedule

1998 Wolsong-3 South Korea On budget, on schedule

1999 Wolsong-4 South Korea On budget, on schedule

2002 Qinshan-4 China On budget, 6 weeks ahead of schedule

2003 Qinshan-5 China On budget, 4 months ahead of schedule

2007 Cernavoda-2 Romania On budget, on schedule

Endless delays have hampered the Bruce Project as they did the Darlington mostly do to regulatory interference, apparently when these are minimized these builds can be done on time and on budget.