Ontario should explore affordable alternatives to nuclear

Originally posted online at http://www.durhamregion.com/opinion-story/4958044-ontario-should-explore-affordable-alternatives-to-nuclear/ on Wednesday, November 5, 2014.

“No nuclear project in Ontario’s history has ever been delivered on time or on budget. We are still paying for the $20 billion of stranded debt dumped on us from past nuclear cost overruns.
 
No private company will insure a nuclear station because the risks are too high. Residents of Durham living within 10 kilometres of Darlington will soon receive potassium iodine pills to protect them from radiation from a nuclear disaster. And there is still no solution for dealing with nuclear waste.
 
Is this the legacy we want to leave our children and grandchildren? You don’t need an economics degree to understand that nuclear in Ontario is a bad deal.
 
According to the Ontario Clean Air Alliance, Ontario has the transmission capacity in place with Quebec to replace over 90 per cent of the power produced by Darlington. Quebec can do it at a lower cost: 6 cents/kWh for Quebec hydro versus 8.9 to 16.6 cents/kWh for electricity from the Darlington rebuild.
 
Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard has said, “We have power available, we have surpluses … we also want to sell it to our neighbours.”
 
Status quo politicians ignore this better deal in the name of protecting jobs. But studies show that investments in energy efficiency and renewable energy create three to seven times more jobs than nuclear projects.
 
By any measure the Darlington rebuild is a bad investment. At $12.9 billion it is the equivalent of 12 cancelled gas plants. Factor in the inevitable cost overruns and the price could balloon to $32 billion. These are expensive subsidies at $5.8 to $14.4 million per job!
 
We can create better jobs for Ontario’s nuclear workers by transitioning their expertise into jobs as the global experts in decommissioning nuclear plants. Decommissioning will only grow with the number of nuclear facilities reaching their end of life.
 
Making smart decisions about our long-term energy systems is critical as Ontario prepares for the new clean economy. The government should stop rebuilding Darlington until they conduct an independent, public review of nuclear costs and alternatives.
 
— Mike Schreiner is leader of the Green Party of Ontario”