No nuclear project has ever come in on time or on budget in Ontario.
The existing Darlington reactors came in $10 billion over budget. The recent refurbishment at Bruce Nuclear is $2 billion over budget and three years behind schedule. Standard and Poor revised its outlook on Ontario Power Generation (OPG) to "negative" last November due in part to cost overruns at Darlington.
It's clear -- nuclear energy is a financially irresponsible choice for Ontario.
Yet the Liberal government marches on with its nuclear dreams. The Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission has given the green light for the proposed Darlington nuclear refurbishment project. This opens the door for the government to waste billions more on nuclear.
Before you invest in a house, a car -- or in my case, even the cereal I buy -- you look at your available options. You weigh the pros and cons to see what has the best bang for your buck (or fibre, in the case of cereal) and you make your choice.
This is standard research you do to make sure you are making a good choice that is right for you today and in the future.
Yet even with billions at stake, the Liberal government continues to refuse an independent review that would analyze the risks and costs of nuclear and to review safer, cheaper and cleaner alternatives. Instead, the Liberals gave the nuclear industry a $26 million cheque to study their own costs.
This is inconceivable and irresponsible when we are still paying off the debt servicing charges from the last round of nuclear projects on our electricity bills.
Added to the economic costs are environmental and safety concerns. Darlington's use of Lake Ontario water for cooling destroys millions of fish, larvae and eggs each year. A major nuclear catastrophe like Fukishima has happened once per decade, but the government's detailed evacuation plans only cover a 10km area. The political establishment in Ontario continues to punt the problems of dealing with nuclear waste to our kids and future generations.
The high price tag of nuclear also creates a disincentive for conservation and efficiency -- we need to sell the energy once it is produced, even if saving a kilowatt is the cheapest and greenest choice.
Ontario has an opportunity to use global demand for clean tech industries to transform our economy. We can improve productivity and innovation, create jobs in a growing sector, address climate change and have a positive influence on the well being of our communities -- a win-win for the economy and environment.
But we won't enjoy those benefits if the old parties at Queen's Park continue to invest in expensive, out-dated technology.
The Liberal government has already wasted millions re-locating gas plants. Now they are set to spend billions on nuclear. We can and must do better.