The Ontario government in Canada announced its commitment to support Ontario Power Generation (OPG)’s C$2bn ($1.5bn) budget towards the initiation phase of refurbishment of the 3.1GW Pickering Nuclear Generating Station.

Ontario Power Generation plans to refurbish the B units (units 5-8) of the nuclear power station. The company is owned by the Ontario government.

The Pickering Nuclear Generating Station, which is located in Durham in Southern Ontario, has been operating since 1971. Its six operating CANadian Deuterium Uranium (CANDU) reactors meet nearly 14% of the Canadian province’s electricity requirements.

Ontario Power Generation is seeking approval from the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) through a public hearing process to operate Pickering’s units 5-8 until September 2026, while units 1 and 4 will cease operations by the end of 2024.

The current license allows operations until the end of 2024, followed by safe storage activities until the end of 2028.

Once refurbished, the Pickering Nuclear Generating Station is projected to generate a total of 2GW of electricity, enough to power two million homes. The project is subject to securing regulatory approval from the CNSC.

Ontario Minister of Energy Todd Smith said: “With global business looking to expand in jurisdictions with reliable, affordable and clean electricity, a refurbished Pickering Nuclear Generating Station would help Ontario compete for and land more game-changing investments.

“The refurbishment of Pickering would create thousands of new jobs and help produce at least another 30 years of safe, reliable and clean electricity to power the next major international investment, the new homes we are building and industries as they grow and electrify.”

The provincial government’s support will enable the company to undertake engineering and design work apart from procuring long-lead components. This phase of will last through the end of this year.

According to the preliminary schedule of Ontario Power Generation, the Pickering Nuclear Generation Station refurbishment project is expected to be concluded by the mid-2030s.

The project could generate nearly 11,000 jobs per year. Following its completion, the operation of the revamped facility is expected to create and maintain around 6,410 jobs per year in Ontario for many years.

Ontario Power Generation president and CEO Ken Hartwick said: “Our experience refurbishing Darlington, a highly complex project that remains on time and on budget, will be invaluable as we begin the work necessary so Pickering can continue to help meet the growing electricity demands of this thriving province for another three-plus decades.”