Ontario Power Generation cites progress on nuclear projects

Ontario Power Generation (OPG) President and CEO Tom Mitchell briefed analysts May 24 on the performance of OPG’s nuclear fleet and ambitious expansion plans for the Darlington nuclear station.

OPG is planning to build multiple new units at the Darlington station and that process passed an important milestone this past month, Mitchell said in a May 25 quarterly earnings statement.

The federal government recently approved the Darlington New Nuclear Project Environmental Assessment (EA), the CEO said. The approval of the EA provides independent review and confirmation that the project will not result in any significant adverse environmental impacts, given mitigation, Mitchell said.

Also, Darlington received its best ever safety and performance peer review by the World Association of Nuclear Operators (WANO), Mitchell said.

The capability factor at the Darlington nuclear station was 95.6% in the first quarter of 2012 compared to 97.9% for the same quarter in 2011, and reflected a marginal increase in unplanned outage days. The Pickering stations had a 77% capability factor compared to 78% in the first quarter of 2011, primarily as a result of higher planned outage days.

OPG is interested in building new nuclear units at Darlington around the same time that Pickering nuclear units are winding down their operational life. (A video link to a Mitchell speech on nuclear power can be found below).

OPG is continuing to evaluate the opportunity to continue the safe and reliable operation of units 5 to 8 at Pickering for an additional four to six years beyond the nominal end of life. OPG completed the necessary inspection and equipment improvements of the unit 8 reactor in May and began planning work for the unit 7 outage. OPG expects to complete the necessary work by the end of 2012 to demonstrate, with sufficient confidence, that the pressure tubes will achieve the additional life as predicted.

OPG’s total electricity generated during the first quarter of 2012 of 22 TWh was slightly lower than the 22.2 TWh produced in the first quarter of 2011. The slight decrease was primarily due to lower unregulated hydroelectric generation as a result of below normal precipitation and water flows across the northwestern Ontario river systems, largely offset by an increase in regulated hydroelectric generation due to higher water flows on the St. Lawrence River.

Net income for the first quarter of 2012 of C$154m increased by C$1m compared to the first quarter of 2011. The increase in net income was primarily a result of higher earnings from the Nuclear Fixed Assets Removal and Nuclear Waste Management Funds primarily due to a greater increase in the valuation levels of global equity markets, and lower operations, maintenance, and administration (OM&A) costs primarily due to the impact of deferral and variance accounts established by the Ontario Energy Board. The increase in net income was partially offset by the impact of lower spot market electricity prices.

OPG’s income before interest and income taxes from the electricity generation business segments was C$157m for the first quarter of 2012 compared to C$244m for the same period in 2011.

About Wayne Barber 4201 Articles
Wayne Barber, Chief Analyst for the GenerationHub, has been covering power generation, energy and natural resources issues at national publications for more than 20 years. Prior to joining PennWell he was editor of Generation Markets Week at SNL Financial for nine years. He has also worked as a business journalist at both McGraw-Hill and Financial Times Energy. Wayne also worked as a newspaper reporter for several years. During his career has visited nuclear reactors and coal mines as well as coal and natural gas power plants. Wayne can be reached at wayneb@pennwell.com.