Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 7/4/2011 (2243 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
Campaigning federal party leaders have been quick to pledge support for climate-friendly energy projects, such as Labrador hydro. No such commitments have been offered to New Brunswick, where costs associated with the bungled refurbishment of Point Lepreau continue to climb.
Provincial MLAs must put this issue on the federal ballot. Atomic Energy of Canada Limited (AECL) is a federal responsibility, and Point Lepreau is an asset of regional and national importance. Federal parties must commit to financial compensation.
New Brunswick recognized a generation ago that Canada needed to diversify its energy sources, and agreed to support made-in-Canada nuclear technology.
Point Lepreau saved New Brunswick from investing in dirty coal plants. It supplied energy that was reliable, relatively inexpensive and free of poisonous air pollution. This was recognized in the 1980s, as fossil-fuel-fired power was increasingly linked to acid rain. Lepreau is still critically important today, as Canada strives to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
New Brunswick's decision to build the reactor was good for AECL, as well. Through techniques and technologies pioneered in New Brunswick, the federal Crown corporation has positioned itself as an international nuclear power specialist. This commercial expansion has come at a hidden cost to New Brunswickers, though, because AECL has failed to complete its refurbishment of Lepreau on time.
Without an operational reactor, NB Power has been forced to purchase replacement energy for its many customers. Provincial MLAs expect the next federal government to cover these extraordinary costs, since AECL has refused to do so.
By its own admission, the federal Crown corporation offered unrealistic estimates to New Brunswick and was unable to finish the refurbishment in the specified time. The extraordinary costs are AECL's responsibility, and the federal government has an obligation to honour its corporation's debts.
Federal politicians have agreed to look into the matter, but such loose commitments offer no value to New Brunswick ratepayers.
This province's message to campaigning federal candidates should be succinct and apolitical: The federal government has a responsibility to own up to AECL's mistakes. New Brunswickers expect fair compensation.