N.B. Power faces costs of aging plant

Kevin Bisset
Globe and Mail
July 29, 2005

Fredericton: The New Brunswick government is expected to announce today its plans for a $1.4-billion refurbishing of its aging Point Lepreau nuclear power plant near Saint John.

The question is: How will the province do it without jolting consumers and businesses with hefty rate increases.

Earlier this month, the federal government rejected the province’s request for a $400-million contribution to the project, saying such a grant would set an expensive precedent that would prompt other provinces to seek a similar deal.

Premier Bernard Lord said the federal government misled and betrayed the province.

With Ottawa out of the picture, the province will need a partner with deep pockets to get the job done. Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd. and Bruce Power of Ontario have said they could help.

In a deal with Bruce Power, the company would shoulder most of the refurbishment risk in exchange for a long-term contract to operate the plant and sell its electricity back to New Brunswick Power Corp.

With AECL, the province would take on most of the risk while the Crown corporation would be contracted to do the retrofit, extending the use of the plant 25 years beyond its projected lifespan.

Point Lepreau came on-line in 1983, and it generates one-third of the province’s power. It was to be pulled from service in 2008.

Tom Adams, executive director of Energy Probe, says if N.B. Power sticks to its business philosophy, it won’t take on a money-hungry project like the retrofit of Lepreau.

“The project is not economic. It doesn’t stand on its own, and can’t pay for itself. . . . New Brunswickers simply can’t afford it.”

 

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