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Pickering Nuclear celebrates record-setting year

It was a record-breaking year on all fronts for OPG’s Pickering Nuclear Generating Station.

In 2019, the station produced 23.6 TWh of clean electricity for the province, the highest ever yearly output for the six-unit, 3,100-megawatt station.

Sunrise at Pickering Nuclear Generating Station
Pickering Nuclear Generating Station

The plant also recorded its lowest forced loss rate at 1.6 per cent, its lowest-ever maintenance backlog, and its best-ever equipment reliability index. In addition, two units that were taken out of service for planned maintenance outages were returned to service ahead of schedule.

“In a nutshell, 2019 was the best year for Pickering Nuclear,” said Dragan Popovic, Director of Work Management at Pickering Nuclear. “What’s driving this performance is the vision that Pickering’s last day will be its best day, and everyone who works here is lined up with this goal in mind. This speaks to staff engagement and commitment.”

Late last year, Pickering’s outstanding safety record and robust performance were recognized by the World Association of Nuclear Operators with an exemplary performance rating, placing it among the best nuclear stations in the world.

As a safe, reliable, and clean source of baseload power, Pickering Nuclear meets 14 per cent of Ontario’s electricity needs, enough to power a total of 1.5 million homes every day. The station is set to operate until the mid-2020s, which will save Ontario electricity customers up to $600 million, support more than 4,500 jobs, and avoid a minimum of 17 million tonnes of carbon emissions.

Workers examine controls at OPG's Pickering Nuclear Generating Station.
Workers examine controls at OPG's Pickering Nuclear Generating Station.

To ensure the plant continues to perform at its peak, OPG increased its investment into the station by $300 million starting in 2017. It’s an investment that is already paying dividends.

Since 2017, three of Pickering’s six units have recorded their longest continuous operating runs between maintenance outages in history, including Unit 4, which broke its previous record in 2019 and has now been reliably producing baseload electricity for more than 500 days straight.

This year, the station and its employees are aiming for a repeat performance of an outstanding 2019 through continuous improvement and a drive to excellence.

Three major planned maintenance outages are scheduled for this year on Units 1, 4, and 6. Planning for these outages begins about two years in advance, and the work involves a number of activities, including inspecting fuel channels in the reactor, equipment reliability upgrades such as replacing pumps, motors and heat exchangers, and preventive maintenance.

“This is the best team I’ve ever worked with,” Popovic said. “With solid planning, a shared vision, and strong teamwork, we will continue to redefine what’s possible.”