Ontario Information and Privacy Commissioner Bruce Beamish
The Ontario Information and Privacy Commissioner has ruled that Bruce Power and the Ontario Government must come clean on the cost of power from rebuilt reactors noting that “the public has a right to know what the electricity cost will be from the multi-billion Bruce NGS [Nuclear Generating Station] project as they are paying for it and will be locked into paying for it for almost 50 years.”
In her response to an appeal by Bruce Power of an earlier decision, Adjudicator Diane Smith acknowledged that the Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO) has the power to suppress this information, but ruled that the public right to know trumped this authority.
In ruling that the pricing information should be released, the Adjudicator reasoned that “the annual price of the Bruce NGS electricity options… would allow the public to assess and potentially advocate for alternative energy sources, such as conservation, demand response, hydro power imports from Quebec, renewable generation, and energy storage. Environmental advocates need the annual price of the nuclear option as soon as possible to advocate for alternatives that may take up to 10 years to implement.”
Further, the Adjudicator found the IESO and Bruce Power rationale for suppressing information about the price of power from rebuilt Bruce reactors to be without substance. She noted that contrary to the IESO’s assertions, “I find that the amount of information already disclosed is not adequate to address the public interest considerations.” She also found Bruce Power’s assertion that disclosing the information would somehow raise electricity prices rather baffling, noting “neither the IESO nor Bruce Power provided particulars that support their concerns about this.”
It’s important to note that pricing information for all renewable energy projects in Ontario is fully public and there is no need for citizens or environmental organizations to undertake long and costly Freedom of Information appeals to see this information. Similarly, Ontario Power Generation must publicly disclose all its costing information through the Ontario Energy Board. Only Bruce Power has had the special privilege of keeping all its pricing information firmly under wraps – until now.
Thanks to the Privacy Commissioner we are optimistic we will soon see just what kind of deal Bruce Power is really offering the people of Ontario. The nuclear industry loves to talk about how it supplies “low cost power” though the numbers tell a very different tale.
This matter should never have required a multi-year effort by an environmental NGO. If the Ontario government was serious about reducing hydro costs, it would have long since ordered this information be made public to allow a real comparison of the cost of different energy options. We cannot have an informed debate about the best options for Ontario when one powerful entity and our electricity system manager cling to secrecy.
-Angela Bischoff, Director, Ontario Clean Air Alliance