Sunday, September 20, 2009

Someday, this could all be ours...

While one would like to think the overwhelming public opposition to nuclear power in Saskachewan would lead to the "demise" of any plans for reactor construction as theorized by Murray Mandryk, I'm still far from convinced that the Wall government won't try to find some excuse to ignore the province's input. So let's look to New Brunswick's Point Lepreau reactor for a reminder as to just how accurate nuclear backers tend to be in describing the costs and time frames involved:
New Brunswick Premier Shawn Graham is ratcheting up the pressure on the federal government to get a firm completion date for the Point Lepreau refurbishment project.

Graham announced Thursday that he has sent a second letter to Prime Minister Stephen Harper asking that the federal Department of Natural Resources, which is responsible for Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd., provide an update on the nuclear reactor refurbishment project — which is months behind schedule.
In Graham's letter Tuesday to Harper, the premier warned the prime minister about the financial implications about any significant delays at the nuclear plant.

"The losses occasioned by these delays are extremely costly for both AECL and NB Power. AECL and NB Power have a fixed-price contract with various damage formulas," Graham's letter said.

"No doubt our respective counsel could advise on the implications for each of the parties. I am writing in the same vein as my January, to request that the federal government keep NB Power whole for these losses. We did not contract for failure and damage claims. We contracted for success."

The reactor was originally intended to begin generating electricity again on Oct. 1.

NB Power has not released an up-to-date estimate of the project's delay. However, CBC News reported earlier in September that the refurbishment is at least nine months behind schedule.

For every day that Point Lepreau remains offline, it costs the New Brunswick government roughly $1 million upfront, though that should eventually be mitigated somewhat. Before the refurbishment project started, NB Power bought insurance just in case the reactor fell behind schedule. Additionally, NB Power renegotiated a series of contracts in 2005 to include stiffer penalties on AECL if the project was not completed on time.

If the penalties and insurance funds are fully recouped, the monthly cost to NB Power would be about $20 million.

NB Power would still be on the hook for the entire cost of the delays in the month of October, which isn't covered by the insurance or penalties.

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