How much of the Northwest’s electricity is nuclear?

THUNDER BAY – Most of Ontario’s electricity comes from nuclear power plants, but how much of the Northwest’s supply is nuclear?

The short answer is that we can’t really know.

According to the Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO), which manages Ontario’s power grid, 54 per cent of the province’s power in 2022 was from nuclear generation. The Nuclear Waste Management Organization (NWMO) has often claimed a higher percentage, around 60.

In the Northwest, far from any nuclear plant, the percentage is likely much lower. But how much lower is impossible to determine, IESO spokesperson Andrew Dow said Wednesday from Toronto.

“There’s no way of really separating it and saying, you know, none of it gets here or some of it gets there,” he said. “You don’t know.

“But in general the closer you are (to a nuclear plant), the more likely that that type of generation is helping to meet your needs.”

Dow said electricity on the grid is “like water: Once it gets pumped into the transmission lines at the provincial grid level, you can’t really parse out this electron versus that electron – you know, whichever electron goes into your home or your community.

“You can’t zero in and (say) all that electricity goes here or some of that goes there. It’s not as simple as that.”

Whether and how much the region relies on nuclear power has become a topic of debate as residents of Wabigoon Lake Ojibway Nation and Ignace consider if they would welcome a proposed deep geological repository for nuclear waste at a site between their communities.

The NWMO has a location beside Revell Lake on its shortlist of two potential sites for the repository, the other finalist being a spot near South Bruce in southwestern Ontario.

In a letter to Dougall Media’s Newswatch websites, climatologist Graham Saunders said last week that the industry-funded organization is making “a ludicrous claim” when it says we all rely on nuclear power.

NWMO spokesperson Vince Ponka, in a statement to Dougall Media Wednesday, responded by saying the idea that the region doesn’t use nuclear power is “factually incorrect.”

The IESO offers a real-time read-out of how much electricity is being used in the province, and how it was generated.

At 9 a.m. on Feb. 21, according to the IESO site, the system had about 20,000 megawatts coursing through it, and 8,350 MW of it was nuclear.

Mike Stimpson, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Thunder Bay Source