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Great Lakes Article:

Consortium makes bid for Ontario nuclear plant
CBC News
12/24/2002

TORONTO - One of Canada's largest nuclear power plants may be about to change hands. Troubled power giant British Energy wants out of its lease of Ontario's Bruce nuclear power station on the shores of Lake Huron.

On Monday, a consortium of three Canadian companies, with help from unions at the plant, announced a $770-million plan to take control of Bruce Power.

The provincial government hopes the buyout will help ease power shortages in Ontario and lead to lower electricity prices.

Just last month the Ontario government backtracked and froze electricity prices after trying to deregulate the electricity market. Those attempts saw prices soar for Ontario consumers, as well as bringing warnings of blackouts.

Then, British Energy, the company that leases and runs the Bruce nuclear station, announced it was in serious financial trouble. After months of uncertainty, three Canadian companies, with support from employees, announced a deal to buy out BE.

Ontario Energy Minister John Baird called the announcement good news for electricity customers. Baird says the deal will end uncertainty at Bruce and will see two nuclear reactors, currently sitting idle, brought back on line.

"Bruce Power is confident that they'll be able to get these two reactors up and running next year to meet our growing demand for electricity, and that'll be good news for consumers because it will keep the price low."

Tom Adams of the advocacy group Energy Probe says a greater supply is a good thing. But he worries the companies aiming to take over the Bruce plant – Cameco, TransCanada Pipelines, and the Ontario Municipal Employees Retirement Fund – have no experience running nuclear plants. Adams says the companies simply "are not competent."

Jamie McIntyre of Cameco, says the buyout will only affect financial control. The management and staff licensed to run Bruce Power will remain the same.

"What the owners are bringing to the table is the financial security that's required for the Bruce Power partnership to move forward. The operational structure of the stations is essentially exactly the same as it was before."

The deal still faces a number of hurdles and ultimately must be approved by the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission. The consortium hopes that will happen by mid-February.

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