By Duncan Hawthorne
Bruce Power President and Chief Executive Officer
This week, Bruce Power was pleased to announce the completion of our investment program that returned Units 1 and 2 to operation, after they had been out of service since the mid-1990s. With these two reactors now in service, combined with our ongoing revitalization program, the Bruce Power site has achieved its full operating potential for the first time in 20 years, doubling the number of operating units from four to eight since Bruce Power took over the site in 2001.
Achieving this milestone is also good news for Ontario ratepayers. Bruce Power is a reliable source of low-cost electricity for over a quarter of our homes, schools, hospitals and businesses. Our economy relies on stable, low-cost power every day and that is the role we play in the province today – and plan to for decades to come. That’s why many leaders throughout the province welcomed the news of more low-cost power from our site, including the Canadian Manufacturers and Exporters.
This milestone is also good news for our environment. Ontario plans to phase-out all of our electricity generated from coal by the end of 2014 – an ambitious goal, considering just over 10 years ago the province relied on coal for over a quarter of its electricity.
Bruce Power has been a key component to phasing-out coal in Ontario and the numbers speak for themselves. Following the removal of all four Bruce A units in the mid- to late-1990s, fossil generation dramatically increased in Ontario, jumping from 12 per cent of electricity in 1995 to 29 per cent in 2000.
Fifteen years later, Bruce Units 1 and 2 are producing low-cost, clean electricity, while Bruce A Units 3 and 4 have demonstrated safe, reliable operations since we returned them to service in 2003/04. The revitalization of Bruce A provides Ontario with 3,000 megawatts of clean electricity, easing the need to burn coal.
In the last 10 years, Ontario has reduced its use of coal by 90 per cent, and it accounted for just three per cent of the electricity in 2011. This has contributed to a 93 per cent reduction in sulphur emissions in Ontario and the number of smog days in the Greater Toronto Area has dropped from 45 to 12.
Bruce Power is pleased to have played a key role in supporting coal phase-out, in a low-cost way for ratepayers. Other sources of generation will also be essential to getting off coal such as renewables and that’s why, in 2002, through our investment in Huron Wind, we built the first commercial wind farm in the province.
One of the other untold stories of what we have achieved is how we have built a strong public-private partnership. The assets we safely operate every day remain owned by the Province of Ontario. We have invested over $7 billion of private funds into public assets that we lease from the province, funding not only renewal of these assets, but also all long-term liabilities for the nuclear site, including spent fuel and the full cost of site decommissioning at the end of operational life. We safely operate these facilities under the oversight of the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission and, from Day 1, we have always believed safety is central to the success of our business. That’s why we have arguably the best industrial safety records in the North American energy sector.
All of this success is only possible through our people. We have transformed our workforce by becoming one of Canada’s Top Employers for Young People. Over the last 10 years, the percentage of our employees under the age of 35 has gone from eight per cent to 25, which is key to the long-term success of our business.
Our workforce of more than 4,000 full-time employees consists of strong technical competency in every discipline, from engineering to skilled trades people. They have made our success possible and a majority of them, in addition to the Trade Unions which represent them, are investors in our business because we’re all in this together.
Our Restart Project also drew upon the skills of the Ontario Building Trades as we worked together to complete the largest infrastructure project of the past decade in North America.
I’m proud to share how far we’ve come in revitalizing the Bruce Power site to keep electricity rates low for ratepayers, while helping us get off coal, investing in public infrastructure and delivering strong safety performance.
For more information, visit our website at www.brucepower.com.