Ontario Wants to Delay Pickering Nuclear Generating Station Shutdown

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Ontario wants to delay the closure of the Pickering nuclear power station

The nuclear power plant in Pickering, on the outskirts of Toronto, produces 14% of the province's energy. (Archives)

The Ontario government hopes to keep the Pickering Nuclear Generating Station in operation until 2026 and is considering a refurbishment that would extend its life by decades.

Energy Minister Todd Smith made the announcement Thursday morning.

Last year, the nuclear plant supplied 14% of the energy produced in Ontario. After nearly 55 years of service, the plant was scheduled to close in September 2025.

Worried about a potential power shortage, the provincial government intends to ask Ontario Power Generation (OPG), a Crown corporation, to keep the Pickering plant in operation for at least one more year. By 2020, OPG had pushed back the originally scheduled 2024 shutdown by a year.

The Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission has yet to approve the initiative for the initiative to proceed.

According to documents obtained by The Canadian Press, Ontario has also asked OPG to assess the cost-effectiveness of restoring the plant facilities. Refurbishment would keep it in service for another 30 years, according to the government.

Ontario says it wants to ensure its medium- and long-term electricity generation can meet the province's growing energy demand.

The Independent Energy Corporation x27;Electric System Operator (IESO) believes the province will depend on natural gas for years to come, even as the government says it wants to end its dependence on fossil fuels.

Due to the use of natural gas as a source of electricity, greenhouse gas emissions from power generation in Ontario are expected to continue to grow for the next two decades. Transportation Electrification Won't Offset Energy Sector Emissions Until 2038, Says IESO.

Nuclear energy does not produce greenhouse gases, but its cost and the risks of a devastating accident are regularly criticized. Nuclear power plants, like Pickering, also produce radioactive waste that must be stored away from the public for decades.

Ford government opponents say the province wouldn't need to keep Pickering Generating Station operating if the Progressive Conservatives hadn't canceled some 750 green power contracts in 2018.

Province had then spent more than $200 million to terminate these commitments. The Ford government argued that Ontario did not need these additional sources of energy that drove up taxpayers' bills.

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