The Pickering Nuclear Generating Station will be around for a few more years.
The province is supporting a plan by Ontario Power Generation (OPG) to safely extend the life of the Pickering station.
The updated schedule will “provide electricity consumers with emission-free, low-cost energy and allow 4,500 high-quality jobs to remain in Durham Region,” according to a press release from the province.
OPG employs approximately 4,500 staff to support ongoing operating at the Pickering site, with a total of 7,500 jobs across the province related to the nuclear generating station.
Under the proposed plan, OPG will keep units 1 and 4 at the Pickering location operating until the end of 2024, and units 5 to 8 operating until the end of 2025, “allowing for the safe, sequential shutdown of all units while maximizing the economic benefits of the generation station in the community,” the release continues.
“The safe operation of Ontario’s nuclear assets is our top priority,” says Greg Rickford, minister of energy, northern development and mines.
According to OPG, ongoing testing demonstrates the plant is safe to operate beyond its previously scheduled shutdown date of 2024 and the continued improved performance at the plant provides value in electricity to consumers.
In December 2019, Pickering was given an exemplary performance rating from the World Association of Nuclear Operators.
The Pickering station currently provides enough power to meet the needs of a city of 1.5 million people.
“Our extensive analysis has shown that we can safely and reliably operate Pickering until the end of 2025 and provide a solid benefit to the ratepayer,” says OPG President and CEO Ken Hartwick. “I want to recognize every one of the Pickering staff for their commitment to safety and for their role in improving performance year over year.”
He notes the stations’ performance is “better than ever” and electricity users will “continue to benefit from clean and stable baseload power for several more years.”
OPG still requires approval from the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) for its revised schedule. The final decision regarding the safe operating life of the Pickering site will be made by the CNSC, which employs a “rigorous and transparent process,” including public hearings for decisions on licensing of major nuclear facilities.