Ontario nuclear plants to enjoy
same tax breaks as 'clean' power generators
By Colin Perkel
TORONTO (CP) - In an effort to boost tight electricity
supplies in Ontario, tax breaks for new environmentally
friendly generators are being extended to include nuclear-power
plants, the Ontario government announced Monday.
Environmentalists expressed surprise the government would
consider nuclear power "clean" because it does
not emit air pollution and would put it in the same category
as wind, sun or water-driven generators.
"It's a dangerous and idiotic use of taxpayers'
money," said Jo Dufay, national campaign director
"The government is clearly overlooking the legacy
that even the current nuclear program will leave us -
with both high-level and low-level radioactive waste that
will persist for tens of thousands of years."
The regulations were initially announced last November
after Premier Ernie Eves froze retail electricity prices
amid widespread unhappiness over the skyrocketing bills.
The idea was to encourage companies to generate more
Although nuclear-power plants do not emit air pollution,
they do produce radioactive waste that can pose a serious
environmental hazard if not stored properly.
"No one in the environmental community calls nuclear
power green or renewable," said Jack Gibbons of the
Ontario Clean Air Alliance.
"(While) it doesn't emit the same air pollution
as a coal-fired power plant, nuclear power plants have
other problems associated with them."
Still, Agriculture Minister Helen Johns whose riding
includes a nuclear power plant on Lake Huron said the
regulations make sense.
"Anything that encourages industry to consider new
generation opportunities can only be good for the people
of Ontario," said Johns.
While Bruce Power hopes to have two reactors back on
line after lengthy lay-ups by the end of August, two of
its other reactors remain mothballed.
The incentives might encourage the company to undertake
the costly refurbishment of those as well, the government
Duncan Hawthorne, CEO of Bruce Power, said it was too
early to say whether the tax breaks would make the difference
in bringing the two back to service.
"There's a lot of other factors . . . but it's certainly
an incentive towards it," said Hawthorne.
Ontario has been plagued by tight electricity supplies
that have seen the province come dangerously close to
blackouts. Meeting demand has meant costly imports, soaring
wholesale prices and smoke-belching coal-fired generators
running full tilt.
"People are very concerned about smog and other
things and nuclear does not contribute to that at all,"
"So it does level the playing field to recognize
it as an emitting-free technology."
Among the new measures are a 100 per cent corporate income
tax write-off for assets and a sales tax rebate on building
There is also a 10-year property tax holiday for eligible
The incentives apply to new facilities that generate
electricity from natural gas, biomass, wind energy, solar
energy, waterpower and other alternative and renewable
Last week, the Conservative government announced a proposed
standard to force power producers to generate more electricity
from environmentally friendly sources.
Critics said it was too little too late.