The government released its much-delayed Long-Term Energy Plan on October 26 – and it contained a lot of positive news for members. The Ontario government re-committed to the continued operation of the Pickering Nuclear Generating Station (NGS) and the refurbishments of Bruce and Darlington stations in the 2017 Long-Term Energy Plan (LTEP).
“Continued operation of Pickering NGS supports good jobs, emission-free energy, and Ontario’s economy,” said SEP President Scott Travers of the LTEP. “I’m glad to see that the government listened to the experts and made an evidence-based decision on this important issue.”
Society members put in a great deal of work to ensure that the government made an evidence-based decision on these issues. Thousands of Society members lobbied, signed petitions and wrote letters to their MPP and made sure that members’ collective voices were heard. Members refused to take for granted that politicians will simply make the right decisions – especially not when it comes to Society jobs – and all of that hard work is paying off.
Here are the highlights from the LTEP that affect Society members:
The government recommitted to OPG’s plan to continue operating Pickering NGS until 2024. This decision is good news for the 1,200 Society members working at and supporting Pickering, and supports the refurbishments of both Bruce and Darlington stations. It also means that Pickering will continue to provide low-cost, emission-free power for Ontarians.
“There were a lot of jobs on the line with this decision,” said Society OPG Local Vice-President Joe Fierro. “Pickering supports 4,500 workers in the Durham Region and pumps $1.3 billion into the local economy. This was the right decision for everyone.”
The final hurdles for Pickering include the results of OPG’s rate case presently before the Ontario Energy Board, which should confirm the economic benefit of continued Pickering operations; the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission license renewal that will confirm that Pickering will operate safely to 2024; and based on those two hearings a final confirmation by the cabinet of the Ontario government.
Bruce and Darlington refurbishments
The province made it clear that it will continue with the Bruce and Darlington refurbishment projects. This remains essentially unchanged from the 2013 LTEP. Nuclear power continues to be a leading reason that Ontario’s energy grid has one of the lowest carbon footprints in the world. The refurbishments will ensure that Ontario maintains that legacy well into the future while protecting more than 2,000 Society members’ jobs.
While the LTEP does not contemplate new transmission upgrades, it does confirm plans to go forward with a new hydro corridor in the western GTA, a build out of the East-West Tie and the Northwest Bulk transmission line. These are essential for making the most out of the clean energy Ontario generates.
“These transmission investments are good news,” said Travers. “Constraints in the current system limit Ontario’s ability to transfer clean power between regions even where capacity exists.”
Strengthening the distribution system for future demand
The LTEP expects that by the 2030s the number of electric vehicles in Ontario will grow from 15,000 today to 2.4 million and forecasts the electrification of much of the passenger rail system. This realistic estimate is positive news. However, there is still a long way to go in preparation for this switch to clean transportation technologies. Substantial policy development must be completed followed by significant investment in distribution infrastructure. The Society will be pressing the government for commitments on policy and infrastructure investments that flesh out the aspirational statements in the LTEP.
“We are glad to see a realistic forecast of electric vehicle and rail use,” said Travers. “But significant policy work is still to be done and significant investment is still to be made to ensure the local distribution systems are ready to harness the potential of clean technologies.”
So, all-in, The Society considers the LTEP to be a positive step forward. It also shows that when Society members organize the union has real power to persuade government.
The Society will be closely watching to ensure that the government follows through on all of its commitments. For now, though, members can take a lot of pride in the work that they’ve done.