“McGuinty and Hudak both need to explain why they remain committed to risking billions on reactors at Darlington when proven green energy is cheaper,” said Shawn-Patrick Stensil, Greenpeace nuclear analyst. “Last year, Ontario consumers spent nearly $2 billion on their electricity bills to pay down the debt from building reactors in the 1970s and now McGuinty and Hudak want to harm consumers even more by driving up their electricity bills with expensive new reactors. ”
Both McGuinty and Hudak support replacing the aging Pickering reactors, which are set to close in 2020 due to high cost, with expensive new ones at the Darlington station instead of more affordable green energy. If elected, Hudak has stated he would “increase” nuclear supply in Ontario from current levels and proceed with new reactors “immediately” if elected in spite of cost.
For the action, activists carried money bags with symbolic $36 billion bills from Queen’s Park to the nearby OPG building and dumped them on the steps beside a 12-foot radioactive waste barrel. The $36 billion bills represent the money Hudak and McGuinty would spend on reactors at the Darlington nuclear station. The barrel symbolizes the significant but undocumented costs of long-term storage of nuclear waste which will add further to the high costs of nuclear electricity. Volunteerers also handed out thousands of the $36 billion bills to urge Ontarians to demand that Hudak and McGuinty support green energy not nuclear.
The McGuinty government has been preparing to build replacement reactors at Darlington since 2006, but in 2009 was confronted with a staggering increase that put the price for new reactors at $26 billion — $20 billion more than expected. Despite the high cost, the McGuinty government has said it remains committed to building new reactors.
In addition to new reactors, OPG wants to spend $10 billion over the next decade to repair the existing Darlington reactors, which are nearing the end of their designed life. Similar repair work at the Bruce nuclear site in southwestern Ontario and at Point Lepreau in New Brunswick is already seriously over budget. The cost overruns will be paid by ratepayers and taxpayers.
The $36 billion bills represent the money Hudak and McGuinty would spend on reactors at the Darlington nuclear station
“While nuclear costs have only ever risen, green energy costs are declining rapidly. If McGuinty and Hudak are really interested in protecting electricity consumers they should allow more affordable green power to replace Ontario’s aging nuclear stations,” said Stensil.
Studies show that green energy and conservation at today’s prices would be 12 to 48 per cent cheaper than new reactors at Darlington site. Research also shows that green energy costs will continue to drop in the coming decade and would bring additional savings.
The McGuinty government has said it will provide new directives for a long-term energy plan for Ontario next month. Greenpeace believes that any acceptable directive would allow more affordable green energy to replace aging nuclear stations.
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