Thursday, October 29, 2009

The Future of New Brunswick Power

Of these two sets of comments by Silver and Powers, I'm tempted to agree with Silver more.

Not because he has worked as a consultant for utilities but because his points seem more valid and his chief complaint seems extremely well considered as well. Powers complaint concerning 'sovereignty' may be valid, and his use of historical experience is useful in understanding his point of view, but is not particularly relevant to New Brunswick necessarily.

One item that I would like to note is that Hydro Quebec is going to assume control of New Brunswick's Point Lepreau after refurbishment is complete. This, combined with Quebec's refurbishment plans for Gentilly-2 will give Hydro Quebec a foot in the door of the nuclear industry rather than simply a toe. With plans for AECL to be sold this is a significant factor to be considered.

Quebec gets almost all its electricity from hydroelectric projects so at first glance the need for nuclear power would be minimal, but if Quebec has plans to expand its market to the USA then it will need more electricity than it already has and 100% of that has to be carbon-free to be politically palatable. Since it is selling electricity for profit, expensive solar panels and subsidized wind power are not options since those would minimize or eliminate profits rather than increase them or would lead to an increase in Quebec's hydro rates.

No, the only option is for Quebec to acquire more nuclear power. But building in-province would be politically dangerous. Charest has seen the backlash in Saskatchewan and Alberta from some, so pushing for more nuclear power is risky in your own province. So why not acquire and expand the nuclear sites in New Brunswick.

The 'expand' part would be tricky. To do so, Hydro Quebec would have to purchase the CANDU 6 rights from AECL at the very least. But considering they just put down a $10 billion offer for New Brunswick Power, might we see them make a bid for AECL to get the rights to build more nuclear reactors of their own?

Time will tell.


Fred said...

No problem.

Quebec demands that Ottawa sell AECL to HQ for $1. If they don't, Quebec will seperate.

Bon voyage mes amis.

Eric said...

Haha! I was thinking they'd use a different tack.

Play the "Canadian nationalism" card.

"Don't sell to anyone else, that's like selling out the Avro Arrow! Sell to us, we're Canadian! (for the time being)"

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