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Industry News

Canada’s Ontario Begins Nuke Privatization

LCG, July 12, 2000--Canadas Ontario Power Generation, a province-owned spin-off of Ontario Hydro, will lease the Bruce Power Station on Lake Huron to British Energy Plc, the UK nuclear generator.

British Energy will pay $422 million ($625 million Canadian) in three installments to lease the facility until 2018, with an option to extend the lease another 25 years.

The Bruce complex consists of the four-unit 3,140 megawatt Bruce B plant and 3,076 megawatt Bruce A, another four-unit plant which is currently shut down. In 1997, an embarrassing report on "minimally acceptable" operating and safety performance at Ontario Hydros nuclear plants resulted in at least temporary shutdowns for eight reactors and three sites.

British Energy has created for the deal an ad hoc subsidiary, Bruce Power Partnership, which is to be 95 percent owned by the British company with 5 percent ownership reserved for workers at the Bruce site.

Ron Osborne, Ontario Power Generation chief executive, said "This agreement injects private equity into the Bruce facilities which in turn will provide new opportunities for employees and the community. It is also a major step towards opening the Ontario electricity marketplace to competition and providing electricity consumers with choice."

The province of Ontario, Canadas most populous with 11 million people, has been moving slowly toward customer choice for four years, but progress has been dogged by bureaucratic delay and red tape. There are still nay-sayers among provincial officials, who fear that giving up control of Bruce could result in higher electricity prices in the province.

British Energy pointed to privatization in England, noting that competition and the resulting need to improve operations have resulted in lower costs for production of electricity, which have benefited both customers and shareholders.
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