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Ford to keep Pickering plant open but at what cost to consumers?

Last Updated Jun 21, 2018 at 6:35 pm EST

Doug Ford says he is delivering on his campaign promise to keep the Pickering Nuclear Generating Station open until 2024, but critics say he’s keeping the plant open at a cost to taxpayers and their safety.

In a news conference at the generating station this morning, the premier-designate said the move would protect 7,500 direct and indirect jobs.

The premier-designate said that the move would be a “win-win” for all of Ontario, but one senior energy analyst disagrees.

“We don’t need Pickering, the majority of its output is exported to the United States at a loss,” says Shawn-Patrick Stensil, senior energy analyst for Greenpeace Canada. “It’s bad for electricity consumers across the province.”

“The cost is about nine cents a kilowatt hour and what’s really bad is that we’re buying it from Ontario Power Generation at that price, and selling it at about two cents to Michigan,” he explains. “And it’s the consumers that pay that difference.”

Pickering is Ontario’s oldest nuclear station, designed in the 1960s.

“It’s costing more and more money just to keep it safe,” says Stensil. He adds that if the plant were to close, Ontario’s other power plants – such as the one at Niagara Falls – could pick up the slack.

The power plant east of Toronto became a hot button issue during the election campaign that propelled the Progressive Conservatives to a majority this spring. The New Democrats, who will form the official Opposition, came under fire after putting forward a plan to start decommissioning the plant this year.

The outgoing Liberals had planned to keep it operating until 2024, and suggested shutting it down this year would put Ontario’s energy supply and the production of medical isotopes at risk.