Bruce 6 refurbishment good for January 2020 start

23 November 2018

Ontario's Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO) has verified Bruce Power's final cost estimate for refurbishment of the first of six units at the Bruce nuclear power plant and confirmed that the price of power will be lower than originally estimated. The IESO's approval means the Major Component Replacement (MCR) project at Bruce unit 6 can begin as planned in January 2020.

Bruce B (Image: Bruce Power)

Bruce Power and the IESO in December 2015 entered into a long-term agreement to secure 6300 MWe from the Bruce Power site, through a multi-year investment programme. The agreement allowed Bruce to begin investing in life-extension activities for units 3-8 in readiness for the long-term refurbishment programme that will commence with unit 6 in 2020.

The final fixed cost of the Bruce 6 refurbishment is CAD2.185 billion dollars (USD1.652 billion), the IESO said yesterday. An additional CAD554 million is being invested in one-time costs such as facilities, tooling and other infrastructure that will support the refurbishment of all six nuclear units. Since the refurbishment agreement's execution in December 2015, the price of electricity sold to the IESO has been lower than projected, saving about CAD150 million, while the price of power going forward is forecast to be about CAD3/MWh less than the initial estimate, the system operator said.

The IESO has a verification and ongoing due diligence role on a permanent basis and prior to each MCR. All of the investment for the project will be met by Bruce Power, with the company taking on all of the risk of executing the refurbishment on time and on budget. Any cost savings are shared equally between the company and the IESO.

"Ontario's families and businesses are counting on Bruce Power to provide low-cost, clean, reliable nuclear power, good jobs and life-saving medical isotopes for decades," Bruce Power's President and CEO Mike Rencheck said. "We will continue to perform at a high level, creating and sustaining 22,000 jobs across the province annually, and injecting CAD4 billion into Ontario's economy each year."

Bruce 6 will be the first of six Candu units to undergo an MCR under Bruce Power's overall Life-Extension Programme, which started in January 2016 and has already added over 100 MWe of additional capacity. Unit 6's MCR will take 46 months and when complete will give the Candu unit a further 30-35 years of operational life. The total cost of refurbishing Bruce units 3-8 is estimated at about CAD8 billion, in addition to CAD5 billion on other activities under the life-extension programme. The programme, which is scheduled for completion by 2053, remains on time and on budget, the company said. Bruce units 1 and 2 have already undergone refurbishment, returning to service in 2012.

"Nuclear power is the backbone of Ontario's electricity system," Ontario Minister of Energy, Mines, Northern Development and Indigenous Affairs Greg Rickford said. "The Life-Extension Programme at Bruce Power will ensure that Ontario families and businesses have an affordable and reliable source of emissions-free electricity, while simultaneously supporting tens of thousands of jobs across the province for decades to come."

Bruce 6 also produces the radioisotope cobalt-60, which is used to sterilise medical instruments and in cancer treatments. "The confirmation of the Unit 6 MCR demonstrates Bruce Power's ongoing contribution to the safe, reliable supply of this important isotope, and is great news for our industry. The successful completion of Unit 6 Project will secure a critical supply of cobalt-60 for decades to come." Kevin Brooks, president of Ottawa-based isotope supplier Nordion, said.

Ontario's 18 nuclear power units - Ontario Power Generation's (OPG's) six units at Pickering and four units at Darlington, plus Bruce's 8 units - provide about 60% of the province's power and are central to its long-term electricity plans. OPG is also in the process of a long-term refurbishment programme at Darlington, beginning in 2016 with unit 2. Darlington 2's refurbishment is now over half-way complete and is due to be finished in 2019, and preparations for work on unit 3 - scheduled to start by 2020 are under way.

Researched and written by World Nuclear News