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Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions

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A Darlington Refurbishment contractor stands in a tool testing area.

Q - What is refurbishment?

Refurbishment involves replacing core reactor components to enable the plant to operate safely for another 30 years. Each reactor is taken out of service for about three years to allow for:

  • Replacement of fuel channels, feeder pipes, calandria tubes and end fittings;
  • Rehabilitation of steam generators, turbine generators and fuel handing equipment; and
  • System improvements and plant upgrades to meet current regulatory requirements.

Q - What's the cost of refurbishment?

The cost of refurbishment is $12.8 billion including interest and escalation.

Q - What’s the return on this significant investment?

Clean, reliable, low-cost energy for Ontario. Darlington Refurbishment will generate $14.9 billion in economic benefits to Ontario, and a total of $89.9 billion when calculating in 30 more years of station operations, according to an independent report by the Conference Board of Canada. The project will also generate thousands of construction jobs in Darlington and at some 60 Ontario companies supplying components for the work. The investment also preserves about 3,000 jobs at the station as it continues providing clean, reliable, base load power for another 30 years at a cost lower than other alternatives considered.

Q - What about refurbishment’s impact on the environment?

Darlington Refurbishment is the largest clean energy project in Canada. This October, Intrinsik Environmental Sciences released an independent report stating that the total reduction in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from 2024 to 2055 associated with the continued operation of Darlington following refurbishment is estimated to be 297 megatonnes of carbon dioxide, or the equivalent of taking two million cars off the road.

Q - What employment opportunities will be available throughout the refurbishment project?

In addition to 30 more years of employment at Darlington to operate and maintain the station, the refurbishment project is expected to provide an additional 2,000 direct jobs (primarily contractors) and thousands of additional indirect and induced jobs over the duration of the project. Various skilled trades will be required for this work. In the initial stages of the project, the needed skills include:  

  • Boilermakers
  • Construction millwrights and industrial mechanics
  • Crane operators
  • Electricians
  • Carpenters
  • Heavy equipment mechanics and operators
  • Insulators
  • Ironworkers
  • Steam, pipe and gas fitters
  • Trades helpers and labourers; and
  • Welders.

In the later stages of the project, skilled trades and occupations from all sectors will be needed, such as carpenters; construction managers, contractors and contract supervisors, electricians, plumbers, and sheet metal workers.

All contracts issued for Darlington refurbishment also include a provision for apprenticeship opportunities. OPG has set targets to achieve 20 per cent apprenticeships for skilled trades working on the project.

Q- Where will these workers come from?

We expect the majority of these workers will be resourced from across Durham Region and the Greater Toronto Area but we are relying on trades to from across Ontario to supplement the project's high demand for resources. In Ontario, we’re lucky to have skilled, experienced trade workers in the nuclear industry but as the project progresses, we anticipate that the demand for this talent will rise.

Q - How will the refurbishment be financed?

OPG will establish financing as part of its work program. Financing for the initiation and execution preparation phases has been funded from OPG’s general operations.

Q - Why refurbish nuclear as opposed to other forms of generation?

The Province of Ontario is responsible for long-term energy plans and for establishing the appropriate electricity supply mix. The Province has determined that a mix of options is the best approach for ensuring a safe, secure and reasonably-priced supply of electricity for Ontarians. Nuclear energy is a base load generation source, designed to operate continuously and provide the foundation for a stable, clean and secure supply mix.

In November 2017, the Financial Accountability Office released a report, “An Assessment of the Financial Risks of the Nuclear Refurbishment Plan,” which concludes, “There are no alternative scenarios that are comparable to refurbished nuclear generation in terms of both cost and emissions.”