Ontario’s Energy Minister Todd Smith will make an announcement at Pickering Nuclear Power Station on Tuesday morning as the government looks to its future.
The nuclear power plant — which originally opened in 1971 — has become an increasingly key part of Ontario’s energy plans as the province faces a supply shortage in the 2020s and early 2030s.
In 2022, the government announced it would extend Pickering past its initially planned closure date to 2026 and said it was weighing plans for a long-term refurbishment that could add decades to its operations.
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While the province submitted the required documents to nuclear regulators to extend the plant’s short-term life, it has not yet formally announced its refurbishment plans.
By the Ford government’s own admission, Ontario will become a power-hungry province over the course of this decade as new electric vehicle battery manufacturing plants, electrification of transportation networks and increased population growth contribute to the demand.
“We’re going to need a lot more electricity,” Smith said at a news conference on May 25, 2023.
At the same time, the province has been facing an impending cliff with the scheduled decommissioning of the Pickering site at the end of 2024 and the refurbishment of the Darlington nuclear power station.
Pickering alone is responsible for 14 per cent of Ontario’s electricity.
To fill the gap, the Ford government approved a mix of electricity generation to stabilize the provincial grid including a small modular nuclear reactor, new battery storage facilities and more natural gas facilities.
Officials recently also announced they were returning to plans for renewable energy options after scrapping similar contracts in 2018.
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