Ontario Power Generation will join forces with Westinghouse to bid for nuclear projects around the globe, the companies announced Wednesday.
The news comes the same week that the Ontario government set up a panel headed by TD Bank chairman Ed Clark to consider privatization – or other strategies – for provincial assets.
OPG is 100 per cent owned by the province.
“Under the agreement, the companies will consider a diversity of nuclear projects including refurbishment, maintenance and outage services, decommissioning and remediation of existing nuclear power plants, and new nuclear power plants,” OPG said a release.
Westinghouse will work directly with Canadian Nuclear Partners, a subsidiary of OPG headed by Pierre Tremblay.
The agreement will help both sides, Tremblay said in an interview.
“They’re a technology company,” he said. “They know how to convert ideas and thoughts into commercial products. That’s one big gain for us.”
Another is global reach, he said: Westinghouse has technology in half the world’s nuclear reactors.
“That’s big, big access to us in terms of work we might do to support improved performance in those utilities,” he said
Canadian Nuclear Partners was born when OPG stepped in to help New Brunswick Power with its Point Lepreau nuclear reactor.
It had revenue of $5 million last year, Tremblay said, but he hopes to grow that quickly with the Westinghouse partnership.
“We’re generally intending on doubling our revenue stream as we go forward, year over year,” he said.
“We see the market out there, we’re chasing some big prizes.”
His company can staff up for projects by seconding OPG employees, then returning them to the parent when the project work wraps up, he said.
Peter Tabuns, energy critic for the New Democratic Party, said the partnership announcement seemed “vague” with no financial details attached.
He also remarked on that fact that it comes on the heels of the appointment of Clark and his panel to study ways to “optimize” the province’s assets, including OPG.
That could give Westinghouse a leg up in any form of privatization, Tabuns said.
“It certainly gives them a window into the daily operations,” he said. “There’s going to be a lot of personnel interaction on this. Westinghouse is going to have an opportunity and access that’s going to be very substantial.”
“Westinghouse is already doing some work on the Darlington refurbishment,” said Tabuns. That’s a long-term, mid-life overhaul of the station.
“I’m concerned that this partnership not give Westinghouse any advantage in any bidding that may ensue at Darlington in the future.”
Energy minister Bob Chiarelli said the new venture grew out of the province’s long term energy plan, updated last year.
“We encouraged OPG to explore new business lines and opportunities to the benefit of all Ontarians,” he said.
Beckie Codd-Downey, an official in Chiarelli’s office, didn’t answer directly when asked whether the Westinghouse agreement is related to the work of the Clark panel on provincial assets.
“The Westinghouse agreement will bring further value to Ontarians from OPG’s assets,” she said.