The conservatives at Queen’s Park have played the nuclear card in trying to solve Ontario’s electrical power problems. The incompetents have grasped at the most expensive to build, bought into the centuries of after-life in the fuel and the least favourite solution of Ontario voters. Their less than brilliant solution adds a larger reactor on the Bruce Peninsula and some smaller reactors to be added down at the Darlington nuclear plant on Lake Ontario.
It was not the solution that the government would be smart to promote just before a provincial election. I doubt the public attitude towards nuclear plants has changed very much since I last studied the situation.
It was 35 years ago that I wrote a report for the then Ontario energy minister about the attitudes of experts and citizens about nuclear power in Ontario. The liberal government of that day was struggling with the same questions as today.
While many would assume that the assignment was something of a pay-off for my helping the energy minister get elected, they would be right. I was so annoyed at that appearance of patronage that I deliberately ran the expenses on the project over budget. It annoyed my partners in the firm but it produced a report that surprised the deputy minister and the civil servants in the ministry.
Instead of a few pages of boiler plate, I gave the ministry a lengthy and detailed analysis. One of the steps in the process was a series of focus groups. I wanted to find out the why’s of the negative reaction to nuclear electrical production. It turned out that the respondents did not care if the nuclear plants were as far away as the North pole, they were not happy with nuclear power.
At the time, there was little hope for the ability to store electrical energy in the quantities needed to make wind or solar power an adequate solution. We ended up recommending negotiating the integration of the water power of Manitoba, Ontario and Quebec into an interlocked grid that could answer the need for electrical power for many years.
But that did not happen then. And when the conservatives took over at Queen’s Park in 2018, they cancelled all the plans the liberals had for wind, solar and the better electrical storage capability.
Copyright 2023 © Peter Lowry
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