Lepreau — Point Lepreau Nuclear Generating Station has lowered the amount of electricity it plans to produce between 2015 and 2018. Despite its $2.4 billion refurbishment price tag, the only operating nuclear reactor outside of Ontario is still dealing with unexpected issues that prevent the plant from hitting full capacity as well as any additional growth. This flux in capacity has the power company’s chief executive wishing he could go back in time to fix the company’s past refurbishment mistakes.
“When I heard about the need to lower our output targets again, I was like ‘Great Scott!’” said NB Power CEO Gaëtan Thomas. “We keep trying to ramp up to full capacity, but we keep being plagued by issues that prevent that from happening. It’s like when Marty destroyed the DeLorean’s fuel line travelling back to 1885; we just can’t get the reactor to 88 mph, so to speak, no matter how hard we try.”
Point Lepreau has been running at 81 per cent of capacity for the last month because of a malfunctioning reheater attached to one of its turbines. Thomas said that we have to get back up to full capacity as soon as possible, and then proceed with plans to build a second reactor on the site. If French company, Areva, revives plans for Canada’s first light-water reactor to be situated at Point Lepreau, it would be capable of generating between 1.1 and 1.25 gigawatts.
“Since 1985, I’ve had a dream of having a nuclear reactor capable of generating 1.21 gigawatts of electricity,” said Thomas. “If Doc Brown could do this in a DeLorean in the mid-’80s, why can’t we do it 30 years later? Praying for lightning to strike isn’t going to cut it; trust me, I’ve tried that literally for years. We need to aggressively pursue increases to our generation capacity, or in the near future some Mr. Fusion-like invention will make NB Power irrelevant.”
Premier Brian Gallant shares that view with Thomas, although with noticeably less enthusiasm. “I was 3 years old in 1985, so I was mostly focused on potty training at that time,” said Gallant. “However, I think we all support Gaëtan’s vision. He keeps telling me, ‘Where we’re going, we don’t need roads!’ I’m not sure what that means, but I definitely agree that we will be needing fewer roads is in our future. We’ve paved practically the entire province already.”
The NB Power CEO mentioned that he is willing to try other new approaches to increase Lepreau’s generating capacity. “Hell, I’d even try bringing more solar, wind, geothermal and tidal energy online at Lepreau if it helps us get to 1.21 gigawatts… just kidding!” belly-laughed Thomas, wiping away tears. “Ha, can you imagine?”
Thomas ended the interview, saying he needed to “make like a tree and get outta here” to go pick up his DeLorean from the shop. He kept muttering something about the “time circuits” being fried. His final words to The Manatee reporter were, “Trust me, if my calculations are correct, when that baby finally hits 1.21 gigawatts… you’re gonna see some serious shit.”