Winter blackouts possible: Energy Probe

Richard Brennan
Toronto Star
October 25, 2002

“I think Ontario has now got a risk of blackout, possibly as early as this winter,” said Tom Adams, executive director of the industry watchdog group, “but next summer looks very dicey as well.”

Adams was reacting in part to news the start-up of the first of four Pickering A nuclear reactor units, expected by year’s end, will be delayed by as much as eight months. The four units, out of service since 1997 because of safety and reliability concerns, are considered a key part of Ontario’s power system.

“The electricity system is in a crisis . . . because we bet heavily on the restart of Pickering A . . . and now with Pickering A missing we’ve got nothing there to fill the gap,” he said.

Liberal MPP Sean Conway (Renfrew Nipissing Pembroke) told the Legislature yesterday a “very reliable source” within Ontario Power Generation informed him of the delays, which he says will lead to huge increases in electricity costs.

“I have been told . . . that we can expect only one of the four units at Pickering A available in the calendar year 2003,” Conway said. “The three remaining units at Pickering A . . . are not likely to be available . . . until at least 2004 and perhaps, in some cases, as late as 2005.”

OPG is to detail the return to service in its third quarter report expected next week, a spokesperson said yesterday.

Conway said the project is as much as $2 billion over budget.

Energy Minister John Baird told the Legislature he is “not happy” the project is behind schedule and over budget.

Meanwhile, the Canadian Institute for Environmental Law and Policy filed a complaint under the federal Competition Act yesterday, saying Ontario is unfairly subsidizing traditional power sources at the expense of green power. The group says it’s tough for wind power to get on the grid when it costs at least 50 per cent more than other sources of electricity.

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