SaskPower has been studying just where a Small Modular Reactor would go in the province and has settled on two different solutions.

One of those would be in the central part of the province, while the other would be located here in the southeast.

In both cases, SaskPower employees have been studying practical, cultural, and economic considerations for development.

Sarah Klein Bentley, a Supply Plan Engineer with SaskPower, details just where they're looking.

"We had identified and selected two areas for further study in the province, which we've continued to evaluate. So we termed these areas as the Estevan and Elbow study areas. When we talk about the Estevan sitting area, we're talking about a 10-kilometer radius around the Rafferty and boundary dam reservoirs and the area around Alameda or Grant Devine."

"Our goal is to have a site selected and recommended for development by the end of 2024. To get there, we have been evaluating potential sighting areas in more detail while we gather data and engage with communities."  

Suitability map for SMRs in Estevan region (photo courtesy of Saskpower)Suitability map for SMRs in the Estevan region. (photo courtesy of SaskPower)

To do so, they've been chatting with local community members, organizations, and governments about their needs.

"A very important aspect of the siting process is to gather information about what matters to municipalities, residents, stakeholders, and rights holders. We're using a number of ways to ensure leaders and residents are well-informed and have a voice in the siting processm,: said Bentley, "We've had numerous drop-in events and have hosted in-person and virtual meetings for those close to and within the siting areas."

They've been working with community members to address any concerns socially, including different standards for what's expected.

"So an example of one of our social-cultural criteria is proximity to the workforce which is a big one. We prefer sites within 100 kilometers of settlements greater than 2000 people. In this one, we've incorporated a distance decay buffer from zero to 100 kilometers," said Bentley, "So the longer the travel time, the lower the suitability."

"Interestingly, SaskPower initially started off by saying that we preferred sites within 75 kilometers. We heard lots of feedback from folks within these siting areas that they travel longer distances presently to get to work and we were asked to bump this up to 100 kilometers. So we reflected that change and we weighted this indicator as 100."

They've also been talking with local groups, including indigenous groups, to make sure any construction would not have an adverse affect.

SaskPower also took a look at existing services near these communtities, to see what they would need and what would already be provided.

"Population centres greater than 2000 people provide a localized workforce and access to emergency services. So those hospital fire, police, and EMS. So one of the site selection processes," said Bentley, "we do look at the existing services within those communities and then look at where that can help supplement the project, but where they fall short as well. So determining what is needed to be built up for our facility."

With all of the work, they're now looking at moving toward to the next phase of the project.

"So combining the suitability analysis with the information we received through technical studies, we are now getting ready to start Step 5," said Bentley, "Where we'll identify possible or candidate sites. To do this, we are refining our criteria as we move from that regional level analysis to a local level."