The Ontario Nuclear RFP
The Ontario nuclear Request for Proposal can be downloaded from the Infrastructure Ontario website (hint: allow pop ups and search for its official title Nuclear Procurement Proposal).
Let’s have a brief look at the main points of this RFP.
The introduction says that the government of Ontario “commissioned an independent and comprehensive review of the current commercially available nuclear reactor designs, presumably the report by McKinsey of which more later. It also mentions a “similar review was carried out by Ontario Power Generation and Bruce Power”. That’s not available either but it would be interesting to see if there is a joint report or two separate ones. If it was joint, it might tell us what the two companies agree upon.
On the basis of these reviews, the following companies (designs) were invited to respond to the RFP:
· AREVA NP (US EPR)
· Atomic Energy Canada Limited (ACR-1000)
· GE -Hitachi Nuclear Energy International LLC (ESBWR)
· Westinghouse Electric Company LLC (AP1000).
Note that GE-Hitachi opted out of the competition shortly after this RFP was issued because its Canadian branch plant will be a partner in an AECL proposal.
The purpose of the RFP is to identify a contractor to perform all the steps to provide a “stand-alone two-unit nuclear power plant, at an Ontario site to be specified …..”, providing “roughly 2,000-3,500 MWe of baseload generation capacity to the Ontario grid” with an option …”for an additional one or two units”, if Ontario decides it wants them.
The primary criteria on which the first pass of proposals will be judged are:
· “capability to execute a plan to provide the support necessary for a successful construction licence application;
· ability to deliver a successful Canadian safety case on schedule and in compliance with Canadian regulatory requirements”
In other words each reactor vendor must be able to prove its product is licensable by the Canadian nuclear regulator, the CNSC (Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission). The RFP is asking for a plan for licensing rather than a license itself. Nevertheless, it’s not immediately apparent how this could work since the CNSC has little or no experience with any of the proposed designs. Convincing that agency to make the very large investments necessary to establish the capability may not be easy but would have to be a key step in the plan. Regulatory aspects will be a topic on this blog.
Now we come to what I consider the most annoying and outrageous part of the RFP and that’s section 3.3 entitled “Communications Restrictions” This explicitly prohibits all discussion of the RFP not only by those having a stake (all of the nuclear enterprises in Ontario) but also it forbids participation in “any media release, public announcement or public disclosure (whether for publication in the press, on the radio, television, internet or any other medium) that relates to the RFP ………or any matters related thereto” or to make “any public comment, respond to questions in a public forum” all of this “without Infrastructure Ontario’s prior written consent”.
The Ontario government is clearly stating in the RFP that it considers all discussion of the RFP as “confidential commercial information”. Therefore, we can only conclude the government of Ontario wishes to prevent meaningful public discussion of the momentous multi-billion dollar decision on Ontario’s nuclear future.
This brings us full circle to the purpose of this blog namely a full and open discussion of new reactors choices not only for Ontario but for New Brunswick, Alberta and perhaps Saskatchewan.