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TORONTO (Reuters) - Ontario has asked three manufacturers to submit "phase two" proposals for two new nuclear power reactors, the first to be built in the Canadian province since its last reactor went online in 1993.
French engineering firm Areva CEPFi.PA, federally-owned Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd and U.S.-based Westinghouse Electric Co, a unit of Japan's Toshiba Corp. (6502.T), have been asked to prepare proposals for a two-unit nuclear plant at the existing Darlington generating station, east of Toronto.
The proposals are due in October and the preferred vendor will be chosen by the end of 2008. The three firms had already submitted "phase one" proposals that were deemed satisfactory by the province.
Their submissions will be evaluated on lifetime power cost, their ability to bring new supply online by July 2018, and the "level of investment in Ontario," the provincial government said in a press release.
All of Ontario's operating nuclear stations employ Candu reactors that were made by AECL.
Ontario, which currently gets 52 percent of its electricity from nuclear generating stations, is trying to secure new energy supplies to replace aging generation facilities and help make up for the planned closing of high-emission coal-fired plants.
It plans to keep the province's nuclear generating capacity at about 14,000 megawatts.
The new two-unit plant is to be operated by provincial utility Ontario Power Generation at the four-reactor Darlington station, about 70 km (45 miles) east of Toronto on Lake Ontario.
But the Ontario government also voiced support for a private-sector consortium that has applied to Canada's nuclear regulator for permits to build new reactors at the Bruce nuclear station on the shores of Lake Huron, near Kincardine, Ontario.
"The Bruce site will continue to provide approximately 6,300 MW of baseload electricity through either the refurbishment of the Bruce B units or new units at Bruce C," the Ontario government said.
A spokesman for Bruce Power -- a partnership composed of uranium miner Cameco Corp (CCO.TO), pipeline TransCanada Corp (TRP.TO), plus two workers' groups and an Ontario pension fund -- said the news about the Darlington project would have no impact on Bruce's application for new construction, since the site is expected to keep supplying about 6,300 megawatts of power.
Federal Natural Resources Minister Gary Lunn told reporters in Ottawa that there has been much more interest in low-emission nuclear energy lately, in light of climate change concerns.
"There's greater public acceptance right across Canada," Lunn said.
Both Bruce Power and Ontario Power Generation asked the federal nuclear regulator in 2006 to start considering their applications to build new nuclear generating units, which would be the first ones approved in more than a quarter of a century.
Reporting by Lynne Olver in Toronto and Randall Palmer in Ottawa; editing by Rob Wilson