Bruce Power expects harsh AG report

The head of Bruce Power expects the auditor general to give a negative review of how much a deal with Ontario to refurbish reactors is costing electricity consumers.

Ontario's auditor general is reviewing whether electricity consumersare payingtoo much for the province's controversial deal with a private company to refurbish its reactors, but the head of the company says the provincial watchdog has already made up its mind.

The province struck a $4.25-billion deal with Bruce Power in the fall of 2005 to refurbish four nuclear reactorsto address Ontario'sconcerns of future energy shortages.

Bruce Power CEO and president Duncan Hawthorne anticipates an unnecessarily critical review from Auditor General Jim McCarter of the deal and the amount of money hydro consumers will be paying for the increased power generation.

"I expect it to be negative. I expect it to be totally lacking any context in terms of the contribution we've made to the industry," Hawthorne told reporters Wednesday.

The deal calls for the nuclear power facility near Lake Huron to reopen Units 1 and 2 at Bruce A, rebuild Unit 3 when it reaches the end of its operational life and replace the steam generators in Unit 4.

The project has come under fire because some say it could lead to higher rates on hydro bills.

NDP Leader Howard Hampton has referred to it as a sweetheart deal for the private company because ratepayers and taxpayers are picking up some of the costs that he says should be borne by the company.

Hawthorne defends the work done at Bruce, saying Ontario would have experienced blackouts in the summers of 2004 and 2005 if not for his nuclear power plant.

The auditor general would not comment, saying only that the report will be released next month.