Ontario Supporting Plan to Refurbish Pickering Nuclear Generating Station

Pickering would supply reliable, low-cost and emissions-free power for an additional 30 years

January 30, 2024


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PICKERING – The Ontario government is supporting Ontario Power Generation’s (OPG) plan to proceed with the next steps toward refurbishing Pickering Nuclear Generating Station’s “B” units (units 5-8). Once refurbished, Pickering would produce a total of 2,000 megawatts (MW) of electricity, equivalent to powering two million homes, helping to meet increasing demand from electrification and fuelling the province’s economic growth.

“With global business looking to expand in jurisdictions with reliable, affordable and clean electricity, a refurbished Pickering Nuclear Generating Station would help Ontario compete for and land more game-changing investments,” said Todd Smith, Minister of Energy. “The refurbishment of Pickering would create thousands of new jobs and help produce at least another 30 years of safe, reliable and clean electricity to power the next major international investment, the new homes we are building and industries as they grow and electrify.”

OPG will now proceed with the Project Initiation Phase of refurbishment which will last through the end of 2024. The government is supporting OPG’s $2 billion budget for this phase which includes engineering and design work as well as securing long-lead components that can require years for manufacturing. By placing orders in advance with key suppliers, OPG will ensure materials are available when Ontario needs them and help keep costs down. OPG and its business partners will also identify potential Indigenous engagement opportunities in contracting, employment and other economic benefits related to the project.

“With new investments and jobs coming to Ontario and the population growing rapidly, our province needs clean and affordable energy that all communities can rely on,” said Peter Bethlenfalvy, MPP for Pickering-Uxbridge. “To meet this growing electricity demand, we are expanding Ontario’s generation capacity, conducting Canada’s largest clean energy storage procurement, and expanding energy efficiency programs.”

Based on OPG’s preliminary schedule, the refurbishment of Pickering Nuclear Generation Station is anticipated to be completed by the mid-2030s. According to independent preliminary analysis by the Conference Board of Canada, the refurbishment of Pickering is expected to increase Ontario’s GDP by $19.4 billion over the 11-year project period. The project is also expected to create about 11,000 jobs per year, supporting a growing labour force across the province through existing and new good-paying jobs in the nuclear and supporting industries. Post-refurbishment operation of the facility would also create and sustain about 6,410 Ontario jobs per year for decades to come.

“Today’s announcement is a testament to the highly skilled Pickering Nuclear team, whose focus on safety and performance allows the station to reliably power the equivalent of more than two million Ontario homes,” said Ken Hartwick, OPG President and CEO. “Our experience refurbishing Darlington, a highly complex project that remains on time and on budget, will be invaluable as we begin the work necessary so Pickering can continue to help meet the growing electricity demands of this thriving province for another three-plus decades.”

The Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO) concluded that the Pickering refurbishment would provide better overall ratepayer value in terms of costs and risks, when compared against non-emitting generation alternatives. This, combined with Pickering’s outstanding operational performance and Ontario’s thriving economy driving electricity demand, factored into the government’s decision to support OPG’s work toward extending the life of this long-time clean energy workhorse.

The refurbishment of the Pickering Nuclear Generating Station is just one part of Powering Ontario’s Growth, the government’s pragmatic plan which outlines the actions the province is taking to meet electricity demand and reduce emissions by supporting the electrification of the province’s overall economy over the long-term, including:

  • Nuclear Energy – Advancing reliable, affordable and clean nuclear power through pre-development work at Bruce Power and three additional small modular reactors at Darlington
  • Competitive Procurements – Acquiring 4,000 MW of storage and natural gas generation and launching more competitive procurements for non-emitting electricity resources including wind, solar, hydroelectric, batteries and biogas.
  • New Transmission Infrastructure – Designating and prioritizing transmissions lines in Southwestern and Northeastern Ontario that will power job creators including EV and EV battery manufacturing and clean steel production.
  • Keeping Costs Down – Reducing demand through the expansion of Ontario’s energy efficiency programs.
  • Planning for Future Transmission – Directing IESO to report back to the Minister with transmission options to address system bottlenecks between Toronto and northern Ontario, and into downtown Toronto, to enable growth. Working with Hydro Québec to explore new transmission connections to support the export of additional excess electricity to Québec.

Ontario will follow a multi-phase approvals process to ensure the Pickering refurbishment project only proceeds if it is in the best interests of Ontario and its ratepayers.

The refurbishment of Pickering Nuclear Generating Station’s “B” units is also subject to regulatory approval by the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC), following a rigorous and transparent process. The CNSC is the federal nuclear regulator responsible for licensing nuclear power plants and overseeing their safe operation in Canada.

Quick Facts

  • Ontario’s electricity system is among the world’s cleanest with about 90 per cent of the province’s electricity generation coming from non-emitting sources in 2022.
  • Nuclear power has been a safe and reliable part of Ontario’s electricity system since the 1960s and provides affordable baseload power with zero greenhouse gas emissions.
  • In September 2022, Ontario announced that OPG would continue to safely operate the Pickering Nuclear Generating Station through September 2026, pending CNSC approval. Further operation of Pickering Nuclear Generating Station beyond September 2026 would require a complete refurbishment.
  • In 2023 the Pickering Nuclear Generating Station recorded its highest generation output since 2019 and its second-highest output ever as a six-unit station.

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Environment and Energy

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