Ontario restructuring

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The long awaited restructuring of the Ontario electricity sector has begun, starting with mergers at the distribution level. New provincial legislation was announced in December to merge and rationalise the municipalities comprising Metropolitan Toronto into a new and expanded Toronto "megacity." Energy Probe's Tom Adams predicts that "sparks will fly" over the merger as unions in the municipal electric utilities fight to save their jobs. The Toronto merger is one of dozens of lower profile mergers throughout Ontario. Meanwhile, Ontario Hydro's nuclear assets face new devaluations reflecting their eroding worth. Hydro will write off some $2.5 billion in largely nuclear-related assets for 1996. The mid December announcement included a refusal to undertake the retubing of the 815 MW reactor unit 1 at the 4-unit Bruce A nuclear plant, resulting in a write-off of $250 million. Bruce 1 is now scheduled for lay-up in 2000, after only 23 years of its planned 40 year life. The first shutdown of a Canadian commercial reactor, Bruce 2, occurred in 1995 after only 22 years in service, again well short of the design life at Bruce A. Nuclear power accounts for more than 60% of Hydro's generating supply. Hydro's net loss for 1996 is estimated at $1.9 billion.

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