It was only two weeks ago when Premier Scott Moe arrived in Estevan at the Chamber 120 event and announced that SaskPower chose Estevan to be their testing ground for nuclear power generation. The news caused a buzz around the community, with many considering the impacts of the project. One of the organizations that's excited is the Estevan Chamber of Commerce.

"I am already getting calls at the Chamber with businesses saying, "How do I get certified? How do I get in on manufacturing of the different parts? How do I transition my skilled labour right now? How does what they do now apply to what's happening with nuclear later?" because really it is the same sort of process, it's just a different energy source. So, a lot of the same skilled workforce are going to be needed," Executive Director Jackie Wall said. 

Wall noted that the Chamber has been working on bolstering Estevan's energy portfolio for almost a decade. She has collaborated closely with the crown corporation to prove that nuclear power's home in the province should be here in the southeast. "We've had some very difficult conversations, I will say that. We were asking the hard questions. We were requesting that we would have communication and transparency. We were trying to get them to understand that our community has a much higher level of understanding of power generation than anywhere else, I would say, in this province and that we needed to have a dialogue with them and we needed them to see all the assets that we have here that SaskPower can utilize."

SaskPower's goal is to bring a small modular reactor (SMR) to the province. Nuclear power has been on SaskPower's radar for quite some time. Their first memorandum of understanding was signed in 2017 with Ontario Power Generation to look at the efficacy of SMRs in both provinces. In the years that followed, more MOUs were signed with Ontario and New Brunswick, helping bring this vision closer to reality. According to the International Atomic Energy Agency, the United Nations' nuclear think-tank, similar projects are being developed in Argentina, China and Russia.

Small nuclear reactor concept by GE-Hitachi, provided by SaskPower.This is the BWRX-300, a concept designed by GE-Hitachi. Should SaskPower deploy a small modular reactor in Estevan, this will be the design the crown corporation will be going with. (Photo provided by SaskPower, used with permission)

"It's actually huge across the globe. We see the SMR technology really being adopted throughout the rest of the world. I think that will play to our advantage because they're going to be rolled out in other countries and other jurisdictions sooner than here. That should bring the knowledge base up. Any technical aspects that need to be worked out, those will be worked out. Plus, it'll probably mean that it'll be less expensive because all of that has been worked out," Wall added. 

SaskPower's decision on bringing in a small modular reactor won't be finalized until 2029, according to the crown corporation's own timelines. Two sites are being considered for development: Boundary Dam and Rafferty Dam. Wall encourages the public to be involved in the planning stage and to ensure their voices are heard. "I think there's always going to be a lot of questions that we need to be resolved because we are dealing with a new technology. You know, it is a huge learning curve for everyone involved. It is encouraging that we do see them rolling out a lot more now throughout the world. That is really going to help to answer those questions and to speed up the learning process."

Information sessions about SaskPower's nuclear project are scheduled in Estevan and surrounding communities. 

June 25

  • Oxbow: Legion - 12pm-3pm
  • Estevan: Days Inn - 5pm-7:30pm

June 26

  • Estevan: Days Inn - 8:30am-10:30am
  • Torquay: Community Centre - 12pm-2pm
  • Macoun: Rec Hall - 4pm-7pm

June 27

  • Macoun: Civic Centre - 10am-1pm
  • Weyburn: Weyburn Legion - 3pm-6pm