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Pickering Nuclear Extension Key to Net-Zero Future

September 29, 2022

Extension to 2026 will allow for studying refurbishment of four Pickering reactors 

The Society of United Professionals is celebrating the Ontario government’s decision to seek regulatory approval for a life extension of Pickering Nuclear Generating Station to 2026. The life extension will prevent 2.1 megatons of carbon emissions, preserve more than 3,000 good jobs, and give Ontario Power Generation time to conduct a feasibility study on refurbishing four Pickering reactors.

As experts in provincial energy policy, the Society of United Professionals has repeatedly called for the life extension and refurbishment feasibility studies that were announced today.

“One of the most cost-effective government policies for preventing carbon emissions has been granting life extensions to Pickering Nuclear,” said Michelle Johnston, President of the Society of United Professionals, the union for 8,000 Ontario energy sector workers. “The Society of United Professionals proudly campaigned to extend Pickering’s life to 2020 and again to 2024. Those extensions alone prevented 50 megatons of carbon emissions and this next extension will continue that legacy.”

When Pickering Nuclear was slated to begin decommissioning in 2024, the province planned to make up for the electricity shortfall by heavily increasing Ontario’s reliance on carbon-intensive natural gas. But as an asset the people of Ontario have already paid for, the Society of United Professionals has advocated for the government to get every safe megawatt hour of operation out of Pickering so that it can continue to keep carbon emissions and hydro bills as low as possible. Refurbishing the four units in Pickering’s Station B offers a similar value proposition.

“Almost everything has changed since the province last ran the business case for a Pickering refurbishment,” said Johnston. “The price of gas has skyrocketed, the rapid shift from fossil fuels to electricity means Ontario now projects an energy deficit rather than surplus by the 2030s, and there is now a broad consensus on the moral and economic case for climate action.”

“I am confident that a feasibility study will show that our climate, the economy, and Ontarians’ hydro bills will all benefit from refurbishing Pickering Nuclear.”

A report issued by RBC last week entitled The Price of Power: How to cut Canada’s Net Zero electricity bill, found that maintaining and expanding nuclear’s role in the Canadian energy supply mix could help save almost $3.5 billion on the path to net zero carbon emissions versus a model that seeks to exclusively add non-hydro renewable energy along with battery storage.

Founded more than 70 years ago, the Society of United Professionals is the union of choice for engineers, scientists, supervisors and other professionals at Ontario Power Generation, Independent Electricity System Operator, Ontario Energy Board, Bruce Power, and other public sector, private sector, and regulatory agencies in and beyond the provincial energy sector.

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