To break the routine of cost and schedule overruns in Canadian nuclear construction, the operator of North America’s largest nuclear powerplant hopes to combine U.S. nuclear project management expertise with Canadian engineering and construction skills in a company to target construction in Ontario and elsewhere in Canada. It could be ready for business by next year.
The company is in “the formative stages,” says John Sauger, senior vice president for Bruce Power Ltd., Tiverton, Ontario. “The concept is a holding company, structured as a limited-liability partnership.” With managers from U.S. nuclear contractors and Bruce Power, the new entity will buy 51% of five to six engineering and construction firms, mostly in Canada. “We want control but will incent good performance with money,” Sauger says.
Sauger was senior vice president for Shaw Group’s federal operations when Bruce Power hired him in March 2008 to put the “Bruce A” nuclear powerplant refurbishment program in Tiverton back on track. The plant has four reactors, and the cost estimate to restart units 1 and 2, laid up since the late 1990s, had risen from $2.4 billion to $2.9 billion at 60% completion.
U.S. nuclear constructors will not work in Canada because there is no liability shield like the Price-Anderson Act, says Sauger. “The Canadian contracting community is not as developed, robust or mature as it is in the U.S.,” he adds. “They did not understand how to put together an engineering package in manageable pieces.”
With the restart project back on track, Sauger is negotiating with a half-dozen nuclear-experienced Canadian firms to tackle the nuclear market. He declines to name the companies but praises the work done by E.S. Fox Ltd. and RCM Technologies Inc. on Bruce A.