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SaskPower has identified two potential sites in Saskatchewan for the province’s first SMR

SaskPower has identified two potential sites in the Estevan area of southeastern Saskatchewan for the province’s first small modular reactor (SMR). The Boundary Dam Reservoir and Rafferty Reservoir sites were chosen after a thorough analysis of the Elbow and Estevan study areas, combined with public feedback and Indigenous engagement, which will continue throughout the project.

Detailed site assessments will now commence, including groundwater and geotechnical data collection and comprehensive land and water analyses to minimize environmental impact. A final site selection is expected in early 2025, with a final investment decision anticipated in 2029.

The Elbow study area remains a viable option for future nuclear power development. SaskPower will continue to explore land options there and engage with local Rightsholders, Indigenous communities, municipal leaders, and residents.

“In addition to the technical suitability of the sites, the Estevan region offers many benefits, including proximity to the City of Estevan for services, a skilled workforce, accommodations, emergency services, 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 many site-specific regulatory processes critical to the project’s progress.”

Canada, the world’s largest uranium producer until 2020 and now the second largest after Kazakhstan, relies on Saskatchewan for all its current uranium production, though the province does not currently use nuclear power. SMR technology has been part of Saskatchewan’s growth plans since the 2019 provincial roadmap, and SaskPower is in the fourth year of an eight-year planning phase for nuclear power development from SMRs, aiming to build its first 315 MWe reactor by 2034, with another potentially following at the same site. The utility has selected the GE Hitachi BWRX-300 SMR for potential deployment.

Before SaskPower’s announcement, Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe cited Estevan’s existing transmission capacity and workforce continuity as key reasons for choosing it over Elbow. Estevan hosts two of SaskPower’s three coal-fired power plants, totaling over 800 MWe of capacity, which must either retire or convert to carbon capture and storage by 2030 under federal regulations. Currently, only one coal-fired unit at the Boundary Dam Power Station is equipped with such technology.

Lori Carr, Member of the Legislative Assembly for Estevan, welcomed the news, stating, “This is fantastic news for Estevan. It will help give us some more certainty on what our future might look like here. Being able to have that certainty that we’re going to have power protection for years to come is just absolutely great news.”

“Having continuity in the workforce is paramount,” Carr added. “Being able to look at a future, and be able to transition and train while still working in existing facilities, will be really important to ensure success. We have all those trained people here already. We just need to retool them a little bit.”

Their comments were reported by Saskatchewan energy news service Pipeline Online.

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