The Ontario government wants to extend the life of the Pickering Nuclear Generating Station until at least 2026, over fears of a looming electricity shortage in the country.
The province’s Energy Minister Todd Smith is requesting the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission extend the operating time of the aging Pickering power plant past the 2025 closure date amid higher demand for energy. “We’re in a supply crunch,” said an individual familiar with the internal discussions. The extension request has been in the works for some time, in face of increased EV charging and home heating, and pressure on fossil fuel burners to cut back CO2 emissions.
The Pickering plant accounted for about 14% of Ontario’s energy generation in 2021, and will likely cause a shortfall should it get shutdown at the same time the province’s other nuclear power plants undergo maintenance. The Darlington and the Bruce facilities are both getting refurbished in stages, leaving the province’s power grid depleted for the time being.
The government’s extension request comes after Ontario’s Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO) created six new electricity generation contracts aimed at replacing the energy lost should the Pickering plant shut down. Four contracts were granted to natural gas-burning plants, while the remaining two contracts were allocated to wind power and electricity storage. However, the IESO’s move came under scrutiny given the forthcoming heavy reliance on natural gas, which is expected to send greenhouse gas emissions substantially higher over the next 20 years.
Nuclear power, meanwhile, doesn’t emit any emissions, but does face backlash over being too expensive and very dangerous should an accident occur. Critics have blamed Ontario Premier Doug Ford for cancelling 750 green energy contracts during his firm term in office which would have otherwise prevented the current electricity shortcomings. The conservative government instead argued the province didn’t need the additional power, and that the contracts were going to push prices higher for taxpayers.
Information for this briefing was found via the Toronto Star. The author has no securities or affiliations related to this organization. Not a recommendation to buy or sell. Always do additional research and consult a professional before purchasing a security. The author holds no licenses.