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Nuclear Deferral Shortsighted

In a recent letter to the Minister of Energy, the Hon. Bob Chiarelli, the Greater Oshawa Chamber of Commerce (GOCC) expressed its disappointment in the announced deferral of new reactors for Darlington.

The Chamber compared the announcement to that of the cancellation of the “Avro Arrow” five decades ago in Canada, identifying it as an example of the lack of political will to recognize and support Canada’s potential for greatness. “It will be so much more shameful if we allow another anchor industry to simply slip away because decisions on such files as energy appear to be based on political decisions made at the cabinet table and not on economic sense,” stated the Chamber.

The letter went on to stress that if the government was serious about creating a business climate that attracts investment, growth and creates jobs, the government must move forward with the refurbishment of the 10 units in order to optimize the value of these excellent generating assets and, before finalizing the long-term energy plan, rethink the position that “new nuclear will not be part of the long-term energy plan” and include it in the Long Term Energy Plan to be released before the year end.

The letter criticized the government for giving the business community and global investors the impression of giving up on getting Ontario’s manufacturing sector back on its feet by suggesting that “Ontario is in a comfortable surplus position at this point in time, and it’s not advisable to make major investments in new nuclear”. Ontario’s energy supply decisions are closely linked to the health of Ontario’s beleaguered manufacturing sector. The Government of Ontario must treat Nuclear Energy as a strategic asset and an economic development driver and not just as a piece of infrastructure. Investment in our nuclear reactor fleet creates high value jobs in Ontario by exploiting unique and well established capabilities in our existing nuclear industry and enables Ontario to market this technology world wide and retain and attract industry and manufacturing jobs to Ontario and increase household disposable income and spending in our economy.

Since 2005 the GOCC has supported Councils’ of the Regional Municipality of Durham and the Municipality of Clarington’s resolutions in support of Nuclear New Build at the Darlington Nuclear Generation Station and continues to support that position.

The Ontario and Canadian Chamber of Commerce network is on record supporting the GOCC resolution urging the Government of Ontario and Canada to make as a priority, a Nuclear Energy Strategy that will continue to provide jobs, investment and economic strength for Ontario and Canada.

At the current time the Nuclear Energy Industry employs some 10,000 workers in Durham Region and with New Nuclear will create additional employment in the Region both during and after construction. Durham Strategic Energy Alliance (DSEA) is using the strong presence of the nuclear industry in Durham, supportive municipalities and the Nuclear Engineering program at UOIT to create an Energy Capital in Durham Region for Canada. Nuclear New Build will not only enhance their efforts but also create additional spin-off employment.

Ontario has very few industries that offer the potential for ongoing long-term job and wealth creation. Global investors know that Ontario is very well placed and manufacturers have access to some of the largest markets in North America and an infrastructure that helps get the products to market. This alone, if we get back to pre-recession levels, would drive up demand for electricity.