Nuclear facility one of the key elements to Ontario’s survival following massive 2003 blackout
On August 14, 2003, 50 million North Americans were plunged into darkness in the largest electricity blackout in history.
An estimated 10 million Ontarians were impacted. Traffic lights were out, causing commuter chaos. Senior citizen’s homes were without air conditioning on a sweltering summer day.
A dramatic increase was reported in the volume of emergency calls placed to police, fire and ambulance services across the province.
One of the key elements to Ontario’s survival on that surreal day just over 13 years ago was the Bruce Power nuclear facility, which was quickly able to provide the power Ontario needed to rebuild its grid.
Within just five hours, the facility – owned 48.5 per cent by TransCanada – provided 1500 MW of power to the provincial grid, helping Ontario out of the darkness that had swept across the province.
Learn more about Bruce Power’s response to the historical blackout.
Helping to clean Ontario’s air
Years later, Bruce Power’s ability to produce would be tested again in a different way, when the province began to phase out coal in Ontario.
The facility would come through to help make the air cleaner for Ontarians, with the innovative return to service of all four units at Bruce A.
By 2014, when the final coal-fired facility was converted to biomass, Bruce Power was providing 70 per cent of the carbon-free energy required by the province to achieve that goal.
The following year, four scientists would say in a joint article in The Guardian newspaper that nuclear power paves the only viable path forward on climate change.
“Over the past 50 years, nuclear power stations – by offsetting fossil fuel combustion – have avoided the emission of an estimated 60 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide,” they wrote.
In 2015, the facility achieved record output, providing over 30 per cent of the province’s electricity.
Nuclear energy accounts for 60 per cent of the energy mix in Ontario.
Altogether, more than 30 per cent of TransCanada’s 10,500 MW power portfolio, which includes hydro, wind, solar and nuclear facilities, generates no direct greenhouse gas emissions.
New President & CEO ready to continue legacy
Earlier this week, Mike Rencheck took over the leadership of this legacy Ontario facility – the world’s largest operating nuclear generating facility – as President & CEO.
Rencheck comes to the facility with a passion for the nuclear sector and an impressive track record to go with it. He has been recognized as a ‘CEO who gets it’ when it comes to demonstrating a personal commitment to ensuring health and safety.
“As an organization, Bruce Power is committed to its number one value of ‘Safety First,’ while delivering low-cost, clean and reliable electricity to Ontario families and businesses. This trust can never be compromised, and is fundamental to ensuring our long-term success,” Rencheck says.
In fact it’s a trust that now spans nearly half a century.
Under the leadership of former President & CEO Duncan Hawthorne, Bruce Power entered into an amended agreement to extend the life of the facility to 2064 through a multi-year life extension program.
The facility is home to eight CANDU reactors and the first refurbishment as part of this life extension program is set to commence in 2020.
It is an all-Canadian partnership that owns and operates the facility, including TransCanada, the Ontario Municipal Employees Retirement System, the Power Workers’ Union and the Society of Energy Professionals.
See Mike Rencheck speak about his priorities and plans for Bruce Power.
The long-term investment in Bruce Power is consistent with TransCanada’s objective of building a balanced portfolio of contracted and low-cost power generation assets.
Anchored by our investment in Bruce Power, TransCanada is the largest independent power producer in Ontario.