The apparent collapse of a deal for Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd. makes it more important for Ottawa to assure the future of Canada’s nuclear industry, Ontario Energy Minister Brad Duguid says.
But Duguid ruled out the idea of Ontario stepping in to take an ownership position in AECL.
The province, which wants to build two new nuclear generating units for its Darlington station, had hoped to strike a deal with AECL.
Before Ottawa put it up for sale, AECL did submit a proposal to build one of its next-generation reactors at Darlington. Ontario rejected it as “billions” too expensive.
Now AECL’s future is cloudy. The original potential bidders — Bruce Power and SNC-Lavalin — have backed away from the table. None of the parties is commenting.
Duguid told the Star that the province won’t become part of a new ownership group: “That’s a lot to ask of a provincial government, and to date we haven’t really given that any consideration.”
“I think really we should focus on the federal government doing what most national governments do — and that’s providing some backstop to their nuclear industry.”
Duguid said Ontario still plans to build two new reactors.
“We will be moving forward with the purchase of these two new units, and the refurbishment of our (existing) units. That’s not in question,” he said. “Our preference is to do it domestically and to do as much as we can to grow the nuclear industry in Ontario and Canada.
“We wish the federal government had a similar vision for nuclear.”
Duguid said the nuclear industry is important for the province.
“Our expectation is the federal government will ultimately realize that the 70,000 people working in the nuclear industry are worth fighting for and this is an industry that has some very significant economic development potential for Canada,” Duguid said.
Peter Tabuns, energy critic for the New Democratic Party, said AECL’s murky future undermines Ontario’s $87 billion long-term energy plan, unveiled in November.
“You’ve got a province whose whole energy plan is based on an AECL that’s going to provide back-up for the cost of their nuclear power plants,” said Tabuns (Toronto-Danforth).
“If they were smart they’d go back, they’d say, ‘let’s look at all the cost-effective alternatives and rewrite this plan,’” he said.
“Let’s face it, They are basing almost half their investment, or more, on a company that may not exist in the next year or so. That’s an awful lot of risk . . . for a province to be taking with its energy system.”