5 Questions with Darcy Holderness on the Nuclear Study Areas
September 20, 2022
As we explore whether nuclear power might be a fit for Saskatchewan, we’ve identified 2 areas of the province for further study: one near Elbow and one near Estevan. We sat down with project manager Darcy Holderness to learn more.
1. Why were these areas chosen?
All of our power-generating facilities have their own specific requirements, which means they’ll work well in some places and not in others. Think of natural gas, solar power or hydro. Nuclear has a number of key considerations that we’ve taken into account so far:
- a small modular reactor needs a large water body nearby
- it has to be close to power infrastructure to connect to the grid
- it has to be close communities or industries that use lots of power
- it should be close to a ready work force and basic services
- it needs to take into account potentially environmentally sensitive lands and habitat
2. What are the next steps in the process?
So far, we’ve narrowed possible locations by thinking about the most basic technical requirements. These have been very general. Now, the real work begins. Over the next couple years, we’ll be engaging with community members and Indigenous communities in the study areas to learn their thoughts around what else we need to consider in the process.
We’ll also be doing much more detailed studies of the areas. There’s a wealth of knowledge that sometimes only people living in an area can provide. For example, is there a road that floods every spring? Is there a burrowing owl site nearby? Is the area used by Indigenous Rightsholders? These are just a few examples of what we’re looking to understand.
If you have feedback you'd like to share - please engage with us at saskpower.com/engage.
3. What about people who are skeptical about the idea of a small modular reactor in their area?
Nuclear power in general can be a sensitive topic to discuss, and we understand that. Our teams are looking to do their best work for the people in these communities. Our goal is to make sure people feel comfortable coming forward to have an honest discussion with us and to ensure they have multiple opportunities to participate in our engagement process.
We know that individuals are joining the process with different needs for information and levels of knowledge and interest. We want to provide everyone with the information they need to provide meaningful input.
4. When will a decision be made about where a small modular reactor would go?
Over the next year, our goal is to identify and evaluate options for a potential site based on information we collect through studies and engagement activities with communities, stakeholders and Rightsholders in the study areas. We’ll take the feedback we hear and use it to inform our site shortlist by the end of 2023.
5. When would you build it?
A decision on whether or not to build an SMR in Saskatchewan won’t be made until 2029.