Skip to content

LETTER: Reader wants evidence that nuclear is used in Northwestern Ontario

"Why would nuclear electricity electrons be directed to the Northwest, rather than Toronto, New York State, etc.?"
Letter to the editor

To the editor, 

Thanks for the opportunity to respond to recent letter/article by Vince Ponka of the Nuclear Waste Management Organization (NWMO).

Vince accuses me of being “factually incorrect” when I dismissed Vince’s claim that people in Northwestern Ontario routinely used electricity from nuclear reactors in Southern Ontario and (he implied) this had been the case for 50 years.

I had written that: 

1. the line losses would be considerable because of this distance, 1,600 km.

2. There is (and has been) a surplus of electricity in the Northwest.

In my letter, I challenged “NWMO to provide evidence, times and amounts over the last 50 years. This is important because the NWMO is trying to site nuclear waste disposal west of Thunder Bay near Ignace, Wabigoon Lake Ojibway Nation, Dryden. Would our region have some kind of moral obligation to accept this “into eternity” problem if we depend on nuclear power 50 per cent of the time? How about less than 1 per cent?

I suppose Vince and I can banter about who is factually incorrect. I hope the following story makes readers smile.

A Tale of Two Electrons

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.

Derek, the electron from reactor #3 at Darlington, was told that his destination was Thunder Bay or maybe Wabigoon. Henry, an electron at the Pine Portage dam on the Nipigon River had the same mission. An operator in Thunder Bay flipped a switch.

Off they went . . . Derek was instantly into the 500 kilovolt (kV) transmission line west to Toronto and then took a right turn to Sudbury. He was there in an instant (almost) because there was little resistance in the huge cable.

He slowed down a little bit on the 230 kV line to Sault Ste. Marie and then to Wawa. Derek was told in Wawa that, although he technically could travel another 600 km, Henry was already in a coffee machine in Thunder Bay.

If electrons did talk, they might say: It is a far, far better thing that I do, than I have ever done.

Electrical power at its destination is the product of the current (flow rate of electrons) and the voltage. Distance and resistance result in line losses. (Forgive my simple version of Ohm’s law.)

The operator in Thunder Bay has many choices if additional electricity was needed. On Friday morning, February 23, 2024, 200 megawatts of hydro was being generated north of Thunder Bay. Closer sources included: Silver Falls, Kakabeka Falls, Greenwich wind farm.

Available hydroelectricity can be quickly adjusted according to need. Readers can access hourly Ontario Generation of electricity here.

I repeat – why would nuclear electricity electrons be directed to the Northwest, rather than Toronto, New York State, etc.?


Graham Saunders

push icon
Be the first to read breaking stories. Enable push notifications on your device. Disable anytime.
No thanks