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SaskPower looking at two potential SMR sites in Estevan area

Rafferty Reservoir and Boundary Dam are viewed as potential locations.
An artist's rendering of a small modular nuclear reactor.

ESTEVAN - SaskPower is moving into the detailed site analysis phase for the potential location of the province's first small modular reactor (SMR) nuclear power plant in the Estevan area.

Premier Scott Moe revealed Thursday during a visit to Estevan that the province's Energy City would be home to an SMR, if the project were to proceed.

In a press release issued Friday morning, the Crown corporation said it has made significant progress in its search for a potential host site for the project. Two high-potential locations in the Estevan area have been identified for further study: one on Boundary Dam Reservoir and the other at Rafferty Reservoir.

The press release goes on to say this comes following analysis of the Elbow and Estevan study areas, coupled with public feedback and Indigenous engagement, which will continue throughout the project.

“In addition to the technical suitability of the sites, the Estevan region offers many benefits, including proximity to the City of Estevan to access existing services, a skilled workforce, accommodations and emergency services, as well as infrastructure, roads and transmission,” said SaskPower president and CEO Rupen Pandya.

“Selecting a site for the first SMR facility will allow us to proceed with the many regulatory processes which are site-specific and critical to the project moving forward.”

SaskPower will now begin detailed site assessment of each potential site throughout 2024, leading to a final site selection in 2025.

Over the coming months, the utility will begin additional studies to collect ground water and geotechnical details, while also conducting detailed land and water analyses.

SaskPower says data collected throughout 2024 will help identify a final site while protecting the natural environment through minimizing impacts to sensitive lands and habitats.

The Elbow study area remains an attractive option for the development of nuclear power, SaskPower said. The Crown corporation will continue to seek land options in the region and work with rightsholders, community members, and Indigenous and municipal leaders.

SaskPower expects to select a final host site in the Estevan area in early 2025. Site selection is a critical step to enable SaskPower’s final investment decision in 2029.

SaskPower is in year four of an eight-year planning phase for the development of nuclear power from small modular reactors. It is seeking regulatory approval from the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission on a site for an SMR facility it plans to build by the mid-2030s. If the decision is made to proceed in 2029, SaskPower intends to build the first 315-megawatt reactor by 2034, with another to potentially follow shortly after at the same facility.

SaskPower will continue to study the role nuclear power may play as the company works towards net-zero green house gas emissions by 2050.