Neil MacLean's letter (Aug. 6) has helped to bring the real issue of the energy hub to the opinion page.

Electricity use will increase in the future, whether it be for batteries to power our cars or hydrogen production to power our planes.

I would like to elaborate on his points.

First, all established plant designs worldwide are at least 25 years old. All established nuclear companies are marketing new designs through a philosophy of continuous improvement. It is in society's best interest to design safer and more efficient nuclear plants.

MacLean appears to be suggesting that AECL's ability to build a new plant is indicated by our performance on refurbishing the Lepreau station. Leaving aside that refurbishment is much more difficult than building new - you must remove significant hardware (something that nobody in the industry has much history doing), the experience of our competition building new has been less than stellar (while AECL has had significant success with C6 Construction overseas and Wolsong retubing is currently ahead of a schedule even more aggressive than Lepreau's).

Secondly, I agree we need to build a reactor with a competent nuclear company. That is why AECL's last seven new build projects were on time and on budget, in different countries, and with different partners. AECL has proven its abilities, and shown success. Canadians should be proud of their achievements. Canada needs to protect its investment in the safety, security and standard of living of Canadians by maintaining this as a Canadian industry.

GORDON KERR

Society of Professional Engineers and Associates (SPEA)