Friday, May 10, 2013

Now and then: Jose Etcheverry Opines on Nuclear Power in Ontario

Yesterday's Toronto Star included an opinion/commentary from Jose Etcheverry [1]Cancellation of Ontario gas plants pales in comparison to nuclear repair costs.  That the article appeared on a particular day is probably relevant to some campaign being run through The Star, but the article isn't timely.  Etcheverry has been saying the same thing for a decade; which allows for a review of his statements today to include his public work from years past.
The bill for the Darlington nuclear plant rose from the original estimate of $3.95 billion to a final cost of $14.4 billion. Despite the cost, Darlington — like every nuclear plant built in Canada — failed to perform as planned and now demands costly repairs. - Now
Source of graph explained here 
Failing to perform as Etcheverry planned a decade ago is true, because Etcheverry expected very poor performance.

In 2004 The David Suzuki Foundation published Smart Generation: Powering Ontario with Renewable Energy; Jose Etcheverry is listed at the top of the authors list (just above Paul Gipe).  Table 2 of that document predicts 51.2 TWh of production from nuclear generation in 2010 (it was 82.9), dropping to only 22.8TWh in 2015 - when the most recent figure I've seen from an Ontario Power Authority expert, is 93TWh.

Not that the now discredited figures in that David Suzuki Foundation report originated with Etcheverry.

The footnotes lead back to a Pembina Foundation report from earlier in 2004; the lead author of Pembina's Power for the Future: Towards a Sustainable Electricity System for Ontario was Mark S. Winfield [2]... and that study notes 2003's Phasing Out Nuclear Power in Canada: Toward Sustainable Electricity Futures as a source of some figures (the first graphic in this post is built on a graphic in that report).

As dishonest as Etcheverry is with faking a poor performance record, using the term "repairs" competes with that tale for a fiction prize.  Table 6 of the Pembina report Etcheverry, and others, referenced in 2004 shows "Estimated Refurbishement Costs" - not "repair" costs, but a scheduled mid-life refurbishment.
Ontario’s largest nuclear plant, Bruce, was built in stages between 1970 and 1987 and repairs were started in 2005. The estimate for the repairs was $2.75 billion but it ended up costing $4.8 billion by the time the final bill was presented in 2012. - now
Clearly Etcheverry was familiar with Pembina's "Power for the Future", and it's estimated cost of the refurbishment work at Bruce 1 and 2 he refers to in this sentence; the final cost was at the high end of that projected range.  The result is the cheapest contracted electricity supply in Ontario (the public generator's rates are primarily regulated at prices far below even this).

The 4 units at Darlington produce more than twice the 2 refurbished units at Bruce A - so a $10 billion figure would still likely provide significantly cheaper supply than any other supply contracted by the OPA.
The Ontario government is allowing Ontario Power Generation to spend $1 billion so SNC-Lavalin Group and Alstom Power & Transport can develop a plan simply to estimate what it will take to repair Darlington.
Instead of saddling the public with high nuclear bills, the people and the government of Ontario should pause and consider what other civic tasks could be achieved with our money.
Here is a brief list of safer investments to create local jobs: Ontario community wind power at 11 cents per kilowatt-hour; local solar power (made in Ontario) for 35 cents per kWh; a network of combined heat and power plants (with district energy) for about 15 cents per kWh.
Let's look at the cost of Etcheverry's deception in 2012's terms, where we've seen the difference between his gang's 2004 prediction for nuclear production, and actual output, was about 45TWh.  Assuming those options for alternative generation average out to $135/MWh (which is the amount in the majority of contracts awarded for industrial wind generation in the province), and estimating the cost of nuclear output at around $60/MWh in 2012 (OPG $55/MWh, Bruce A $68.23, B $51.62), the chosen nuclear path resulted in a savings of ~$3.4 billion in 2012 alone - compared to the path Etcheverry and friends were steering the province towards in 2004.[3]

$3.4 billion is a big number, but it's just for one year - it would have grown every year since 2005, and will likely grow annually still, through at least 2018.

[1] The article notes Etcheverry as "an associate professor in the Faculty of Environmental Studies [FES] at York University"
[2] Winfield is also an Associate Professor at York; the university notes:
 "FES [faculty of environmental studies] Professors Mark Winfield and José Etcheverry lead new initiative that solidifies FES as the preeminent place in Ontario for research and education on renewable energy."
[3] 45 million megawatt-hours at $75/MWh less than the alternatives provided by Etcheverry


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