The Society of United Professionals is extremely pleased by today’s announcement of the government’s plan to pursue the refurbishment of the Pickering Nuclear Generating Station (PNGS). The Society has, for over ten years, been making the case for the lifecycle extension of the Pickering plant in order to meet Ontario’s net-zero emission goals. PNGS, and the high-quality union jobs that the plant supports, are a vital piece of the province’s economy and our clean energy strategy.
Society OPG Local Vice-President Joe Fierro said, “This is excellent news for the Society members who operate the Pickering facility. The Society has long been making the business case for safely extending the life of PNGS. At the end of the day, refurbishing PNGS is in the best interests of our members, Ontario’s energy consumers, and the climate.”
The Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO) estimates that in order to meet its net-zero targets by 2050, Ontario will need to triple the installed capacity of nuclear power. Currently, approximately 93% of Ontario’s energy output comes from nuclear, hydro, and renewables. The end of operations at the PNGS would have reduced the province’s baseload energy capacity by 3,100 megawatts, a deficit that would have had to be replaced by natural gas. Demand projections show that if the province is forced to rely on natural gas for baseload generation, Ontario’s carbon emissions from electricity generation will nearly triple over the next two decades, returning to levels equivalent to when the Nanticoke coal plant was still in operation.
The Society has been pleased to see the recent announcements regarding the expansion of Ontario’s nuclear fleet. With the planned expansions of the Bruce Power and Darlington nuclear sites, extending the life of the PNGS brings us significantly closer to reaching our net-zero goals as a province.
When planning for the expansion of Ontario’s nuclear fleet, it is imperative that the government recognize and consider the value to the provincial and national economy of the existing CANDU supply chain, which is 95% Canadian. Any nuclear expansion should seek to leverage the existing supply chain to create as many Canadian, and Ontarian, clean energy jobs as possible.
In order to tackle climate change, provincially, nationally, and globally, we need to take bold action to avert catastrophic consequences. Today’s announcement of the refurbishment of the PNGS is a big step in the right direction.