Québec utility contemplates Gentilly-2 restart

August 15, 2023, 9:32AMNuclear News
The Gentilly nuclear power plant. (Photo: Hydro-Québec)

Québec government–owned utility Hydro-Québec, Canada’s largest power provider, is looking into the feasibility of restarting Unit 2 at the Gentilly nuclear power plant, various Canadian news outlets reported last week.

An August 10 Canadian Broadcasting Corporation piece quoted Hydro-Québec senior media relations advisor Maxence Huard-Lefebvre as saying, “An assessment of the plant’s current condition is underway. . . . Given the anticipated situation of energy in Québec in the next few years, it would be irresponsible at this time to exclude certain energy sources and premature to draw any conclusions.”

According to the CBC piece, the assessment was requested by the company’s new chief executive officer, Michael Sabia, “who in interviews after his appointment made it clear he was open to nuclear power in Québec.” (Sabia took the helm at Hydro-Québec in early June, after a stint as Canada’s deputy finance minister.)

And in an August 10 report from Le Journal de Québec, Hydro-Québec media relations advisor Francis Labbé stated, “Yes, we are looking at whether, where we are in the decommissioning of this facility, there is a way to go back. We are in [a situation] in the coming years where we will need massive terawatt-hours to meet the demand we anticipate in Québec. We’re at the stage where we want to look at all the options that are in front of us, including this one."

Background: The Gentilly plant, located on the south shore of the St. Lawrence River in Bécancour, Québec, is the province’s only nuclear plant. It houses two shuttered reactors: Gentilly-1, a 250-MWe prototype CANDU reactor that was shut down in 1977, and Gentilly-2, a 635-MWe CANDU-6 unit that operated from October 1983 to December 2012. In 2008, Hydro-Québec announced a plan to invest C$1.9 billion (about $1.4 billion) to refurbish Gentilly, but in 2012, the newly elected Parti Québécois government of Pauline Marois opted instead to begin the unit’s decommissioning.

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