Yes, it is.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman and committee members, for inviting me to speak with you today. It's an honour.
I'd like to talk about our nuclear industry, its future, and the role of Ontario Power Generation in that. It's an important sector, and it contributes to the sustainability and well-being not only of Ontarians but of all of Canada.
My name is Glenn Jager. I'm the president of Ontario Power Generation's nuclear fleet, and its chief nuclear officer. I'd like to start my remarks with a little-known story about an American admiral and his prediction.
Admiral Hyman Rickover was known as the father of the nuclear navy. He served there for 30 years. He really set in place a lot of the standards and principles that we use to this very day in the nuclear industry.
In 1957 he delivered a speech entitled “Energy Resources and Our Future”, in which he talked about energy and how its effective application drives civilization.
He observed that in 1850, 95% of the energy consumed came directly from humans and animals, pulling carts and things. Only 5% came from fossil fuels. A century later he noticed that was completely reversed, with most of the energy coming from fossil fuels. It was an incredible turnaround in just 100 years.
He then questioned what the next 100 years would look like, from 1950 to 2050, and hypothesized that the future would be increasingly more energy intensive, driving the economy and the quality of life.
Renewables and nuclear would become energy superstars, he said, and historians would someday refer to this as the “fossil fuel age”, the golden age of fossil fuels. He predicted this in 1957.
Think about that and about what's happening now. If we achieve Canada's carbon reduction goal in 2050, that will end the use of fossil fuels. At a minimum, it will substantially reduce it and change its role significantly in our economy.
Nuclear power has played a big role in that. It's helped Ontario move off coal. In 2014 we burned our last piece of coal to make power. Today more than half of Ontario's power comes from its three nuclear stations, and nuclear energy generates about 15% of the country's electricity.
This isn't a well-known fact, as Dr. John Barrett, president of the Canadian Nuclear Association, pointed out last week to you, and he's right. He is correct in saying, too, that nuclear energy is a stable source, and it's not dependent on fossil fuels.
This is an important piece of the nuclear story. Its power is 99.7% greenhouse gas-free.
To echo Dr. Barrett, in 2015 OPG stopped using coal to create electricity. This was the largest single climate change initiative in North America. It brought about the disappearance of the smog days in southern Ontario and the greater Toronto area.
OPG manages, and firmly believes in, a balanced energy portfolio that includes wind, hydro, gas, and nuclear, but it has to be said that it was the bringing back on line of the four reactors at the Bruce station and the two at Pickering that allowed us to stop burning coal and still maintain a clean energy system.
Nuclear is clearly a superior source of energy, especially at a time when Canada and so many other countries around the world are searching for ways to limit their greenhouse gas emissions. It's a clean source of energy, and it's also a cheaper option. OPG's power is low cost. It's about 40% lower than that of other generators in Ontario. It's a made-in-Canada technology, with a deep and diverse supply chain that's anchored right across the country.
Radioisotopes produced by our reactors have many applications in agriculture, medicine, industry, and research. Their applications vary from insect control to food preservation, and from detecting groundwater resources to the diagnosis and therapy of medical conditions worldwide.
Nuclear is helping to drive our economy and the well-being of people around the world.
Today OPG is a much different company from when it was first established in the late 1990s. We're smaller, we're more efficient, and we're more outwardly focused. We have converted two of our coal stations in northwestern Ontario to renewable biomass. The move saved jobs and contributed to reinvigorating local economic development.
We rely more on partnerships and strong community relationships to help us deliver our mandate. As a result, we have made strong commitments to mutually beneficial working relationships with indigenous communities near our current and future operations. For example, we have put in place a formal framework to assess and resolve historical past grievances. OPG has reached 23 past grievance settlements with 21 first nations communities, closing out all of our historic grievances. In turn, these efforts have resulted in a series of generation development partnerships.
Let me tell you about some of these. The Lower Mattagami River project is a $2.6-billion hydroelectric redevelopment partnership with the Moose Cree First Nation. It was completed last year on time and ahead of schedule, and on budget. Nearly 2,000 people were employed during peak construction, including 250 local indigenous people. As well, just last year, in partnership with Coral Rapids Power, a wholly owned company of Taykwa Tagamou Nation, OPG started building the Peter Sutherland Sr. generating station on the New Post Creek in northeastern Ontario. It is a $300-million project and is expected to employ 220 workers at its peak. It is scheduled to begin operating in 2018.
It's important to note, too, that with the help of these local partners and support from the public, OPG has been able to deliver all of these projects on time and on budget.
This is a good segue to the Darlington project that's happening right now. Last month, OPG began work on the first of four units at the Darlington station to undergo a full refurbishment. It's a 10-year, $12.8-billon megaproject that will ensure safe, clean, reliable, and cheap power in Ontario for the next 30 years. It is the largest clean power project in Canada, and an investment in our future.
Again, OPG has made a solemn promise to Ontarians that this project will be delivered on time and on budget. Darlington supplies 20% of all of Ontario's power. It is the lowest-cost provider in Ontario, and one of the best-performing nuclear plants in the world. It does all of this without polluting the atmosphere. To put it into even greater perspective, operating Darlington until 2055 is the equivalent of removing two million cars from Ontario's roads per year.
There are also tremendous economic spinoffs from this megaproject for Ontarians, businesses, and government. It is expected Ontarians will see $14.9 billion in economic benefits. An average of 8,800 jobs will be created annually. There will be an $8.5 billion increase to household revenues, and about $5.4 billion in revenues for all three levels of government.
The Conference Board of Canada estimated the refurbishment and continual operation of Darlington to 2055 will boost the province's GDP by $89.9 billion. This is all for an investment of $12.8 billion, so it's very good news.
What do we see for the nuclear industry beyond Darlington? We see a lot of exciting possibilities. The completion of the refurbishment, which will be delivered on time and on budget, will provide the public with the confidence for OPG to pursue new nuclear options. Among the options and on the horizon are what the industry calls SMRs, or small modular reactors. Right now there are different technologies, manufacturers, and researchers, and they're still developing ways of commercializing these small reactors.
These small reactors could have the potential to provide heat and electricity to remote communities with an industrial operation, such as a mine. They could also be used on an already existing site, connected to the grid, providing clean and stable energy for urban households.
It would mean the end of the huge nuclear plants and the massive upfront cost to construct them. It's more of a graded approach. Much work still has to be done on SMRs, but OPG is well positioned to support the development and introduction of this technology.
Darlington not only has a site licensed that could use these small reactors; it also has the supply chain, the skilled personnel and support, and could serve as the testing ground for all Canadians to explore this future nuclear technology.
In closing, let me say that there is tremendous potential for nuclear energy. Safe, clean, reliable energy is what drives our economy and ultimately the kind of life that we, as Canadians, enjoy.
Building on that thought, I want to reinforce one of the themes of my presentation. OPG is not just a power company; it plays a positive role in the lives of residents right across the province. OPG's aim is not only to deliver low-cost, clean, and reliable power safely; its aim is to generate power with a purpose, one that will make a difference in the communities where it operates, now and for the future.