Get ready for a major dustup over energy in Southern Ontario. The central issue is how to replace the giant Nanticoke coal-fired generating plant, which is slated to be shut down by 2014. What will pick up the 4,000 megawatt slack, nuclear or gas? This dilemma is the Ontario version of a choice that operators of power systems across the western world are facing. Normally the question would be whether to replace an ageing coal plant with new coal or nuclear or gas. But to prove that it is just as politically correct as California, Ontario in 2003 removed coal from the question.
It has been an open secret that Bruce Power wants to build nuclear reactors at Nanticoke, and now its desire has become official (according to the Toronto Star). The Ontario Clean Air Alliance (OCAA), a gas–industry funded lobby group, has long been clamoring to replace Nanticoke’s coal generators with gas-fired ones; see article.
The Ontario government has a momentous decision to make. Bruce Power’s plan would push the contribution of nuclear power to a politically incorrect level: to please mainstream greens, the Ontario government agreed to keep nuclear’s proportion where it is today. On the other hand, while in 2003 the Ontario Liberals regurgitated the OCAA’s pro-gas PR almost verbatim, they were, to their credit, always cool to the idea of converting Nanticoke to gas.
This is the Ontario front in the Generator Wars. Anyone involved in anything similar, in North America and Europe, should watch how it develops.