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SaskPower shares results of SMR public engagement

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SaskPower has released the results and feedback from a public engagement tour centered on the potential use of small modular reactors in Saskatchewan.

Over 1,400 people were reached through in-person and online activities, the Crown corporation outlined in its report.

The province’s current SMR plan has outlined two potential sites for the reactors.

The Estevan and Elbow regions were found to be ideally close to a suitable water supply, existing power infrastructure and workforce.

According to SaskPower, the focus of the engagements was to learn about local interests and priorities while informing the public and answering questions.

ELBOW STUDY AREA

In the Elbow study area, drop-in events were held in Outlook, Lucky Lake, Central Butte and in Elbow itself.

Residents emphasized the importance of Lake Diefenbaker for supplying much of the province with drinking water, while also being a draw for tourism and the source of a provincial irrigation project. SaskPower noted there was concern whether an SMR would compete with other needs, the report read.

An SMR’s effect on tourism activities such as hunting, boating, swimming and ice fishing was also a concern. However, some residents believed an SMR would complement spin-off benefits from the irrigation project.

Location was seen as an advantage, with the Elbow region being between Regina and Saskatoon while also being near Moose Jaw and Swift Current. Concerns over infrastructure, such as seasonal services, poor roads, and lack of first responders were also raised, SaskPower said.

ESTEVAN STUDY AREA

In the Estevan study area, meetings were held in Weyburn, Alameda, Oxbow, Carlyle, Lampman and Estevan.

For residents in the area, jobs, training and economic diversity was seen as the highest priority. With the phase-out of conventional coal by 2030, the addition of nuclear was seen by many as a way to transition the local economy, the report outlined.

Siting and land use was another priority for residents. Many respondents pointed out that the plant should be built on SaskPower owned land and that Estevan would be a more suitable site given its proximity to the border for selling power to the United States.

Recreation, fishing and wildlife was another top point for residents. Recreational use of all three bodies of water in the area were deemed a priority.

Many residents believed that the Boundary Dam area would be more suitable because of pre-existing industry and deeper waters.

GOING FORWARD

More outreach and engagement is planned as SaskPower works to select a potential site that could support up to two small modular reactors.

A list of questions and answers from the engagement project will be available in the near future, according to SaskPower. A water valuation survey is also currently available.

More community drop-in events are scheduled for March.

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