Bruce A1 has been off line since 1997, when its then owner Ontario Hydro decided to lay up all four Bruce A units to focus on other reactors in its fleet. By 2004, Bruce Power had taken over operations and brought units 3 and 4 back into operation. The government of Ontario is committed to phasing out coal-fired electricity generation in the province, and in 2005, faced with impending power shortages, it agreed with Bruce Power that Bruce A units 1 and 2 should be refurbished and brought back into service as a faster option than building new units.
Bruce A2 is undergoing a similar refurbishment and is on track to return to operations by the end of 2012.
According to Bruce Power, the refurbishment is vital to plans to phase out coal generation in Ontario by 2014. Sixteen of Canada’s commercial nuclear reactors are in Ontario, where coal generation has fallen by 90% per year over the last decade. Increased generation from Bruce Power has accounted for 40% of that, the company notes.
Despite Ontario’s commitment to nuclear, the government of Quebec has announced that the province’s only nuclear reactor will not undergo refurbishment as previously planned and will instead close.
Quebec Hydro’s Gentilly 2 had been earmarked for a major life-extending refurbishment, and in 2011 the CNSC approved a five-year licence extension for the 635 MWe Candu which would have lasted until the planned completion of the refurbishment by 2016. The licence extension stipulated that the unit must be shut down for repairs or put in a “guaranteed shutdown state” by 31 December 2012, and would need further regulatory approval before it could restart.
Earlier this year Hydro Quebec said that a government decision to abandon the refurbishment and close Gentilly 2 would have a major financial impact on the costs already capitalized. The company is understood to have already spent in excess of $800 million on modernising the plant.