The Government of Ontario and Bruce Power announced the start of pre-development work for the first large-scale nuclear build in the province since 1993.

Bruce Power will start community consultations and conduct the environmental assessment for federal approval to determine the feasibility of siting up to 4,800 megawatts (MW) of new nuclear generation on its current site.

“Our government’s open for business approach has led to unprecedented investments across the province, from electric vehicles and battery manufacturing to critical minerals to green steel,” said Todd Smith, Minister of Energy. “With our plan already in place to meet demand this decade, we are starting the pre-development work to identify future generation options, including reliable, affordable and clean nuclear energy, that will power our province into the future.”

For the first time since 2005, Ontario’s electricity demand is rising. While the government has implemented its plan to meet rising demand this decade, experts at Ontario’s Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO) have recommended the province begin planning, siting and environmental assessment work for long-lead assets, including nuclear power, to meet increasing electricity demand in the 2030s and beyond driven by strong economic growth, electrification and population growth.

Federal approval is the first step in a comprehensive process for approving and building new nuclear power generation projects, which could take a decade or longer. Recognizing new nuclear generation will be critical to making the province’s electricity grid even cleaner, Ontario will continue to work with the federal government to identify and highlight opportunities to reduce inefficiencies and minimize duplication when it comes to federal major project reviews to reduce emissions by getting clean energy projects built quicker.

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Initiating this early planning will ensure the province has a reliable, low-cost and clean option available to power the next major international investment, the new homes being built in the province, and industries and sectors across the province as they grow and electrify.

“Nuclear power has been the stable backbone of Ontario’s clean electricity system for decades and Bruce Power is ready to play an integral role in addressing the province’s future needs, while supporting good jobs and economic prosperity for the future,” said Mike Rencheck, President and CEO of Bruce Power. “We are starting the federal Impact Assessment process to look at new nuclear generation on our site now, to maximize the future optionality for clean electricity in the province.”

This pre-development work will help evaluate the suitability of the site by examining the impacts of a new facility on the environment, the public and Indigenous communities. It will take several years to complete, involving significant public input and consultations with Indigenous communities, and is a pre-requisite for the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission’s multi-stage licensing process for new large-scale nuclear stations.

Ontario and Bruce Power are also committed to continuing cooperation and engagement with both Saugeen First Nation and Chippewas of Nawash Unceded First Nation communities (collectively the Saugeen Ojibway Nation) when it comes to energy planning and future projects on their traditional territory.

Featured image: (Government of Ontario)

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