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"Bruce Power launches nuclear power feasibility study"

Bruce Power launches nuclear power feasibility study
Cassandra Kyle, Saskatchewan News Network; Canwest News Service
Published: Wednesday, June 18, 2008

SASKATOON -- A feasibility study into the potential for a nuclear energy plant in Saskatchewan will be complete by the end of the year, according to the president and CEO of Bruce Power LP, a nuclear power producer in Ontario.

The announcement of the study on Tuesday is the first step in the company's Saskatchewan 2020 initiative, a plan to find potential plant locations, gauge public opinion, evaluate the customer base and decide whether or not to build the province's first nuclear power plant. Bruce Power's Duncan Hawthorne, who made the announcement in Saskatoon, said the province's growing need for energy and availability of uranium are key factors in the company's decision to look west.

"I think we take the view that the market can support the introduction of a nuclear plant. How much and how that plant enters the market is really a function of the feasibility study," Hawthorne said.

The company is already considering a 4,000 megawatt plant in Alberta's Peace Country, but Bruce Power's feasibility study in Saskatchewan doesn't mean its project in Alberta will not continue.

"People, I think, will read this as an either-or situation and I don't see it as that. When you look at the demand growth potential in both Alberta and Saskatchewan you can easily form the view that you can do both," Hawthorne explained, adding the company has not singled out any potential sites in Saskatchewan.

A SaskPower report leaked in May suggested sites at Lake Diefenbaker and Lac La Loche could have potential to house a nuclear power plant. Hawthorne said while Bruce Power has access to the study, the company would rather find for itself where the best location would be for such a facility.

The company's leader also denied a Globe and Mail report that the company would likely choose Lloydminster as a site for the plant so it could share power with Alberta. If a site is chosen in Saskatchewan, said Hawthorne, it would have to be near a "credible" water source as well as good post-secondary institutions and a strong labour force.

Hawthorne cautioned that the company is at the starting line of a very long process and, depending on the results of the feasibility study, may not choose to build a plant in Saskatchewan. If results are favourable, the company could be adding nuclear power to the provincial grid by 2020.

"This is kind of three or four stages, and 12 years from now we will have gone through an environmental assessment, we'll have a willing host community and we will be constructing and operating a nuclear facility," he said.

Lyle Stewart, Minister of Enterprise and Innovation, who attended the announcement along with Minister of Crown Corporations Ken Cheveldayoff, said a nuclear energy route would help the province lower its greenhouse gas emissions.

"We need to find energy solutions that have a small footprint on (the environment), we believe nuclear energy is a fit in that regard," Stewart said.

The thought of nuclear energy in Saskatchewan, however, leaves some residents feeling uneasy. Ann Coxworth, program co-ordinator with the Saskatchewan Environmental Society, says the timeline of the feasibility study may not be long enough for Bruce Power to do a complete evaluation.

"Five months is not a very long time for doing a study of that scope. It makes me wonder how thorough it's going to be," she said, adding a nuclear plant may make the province largely dependent on that one source of energy.

"Once you build a nuclear power station you've got a big chunk of your whole provincial power grid dependent on that one plant, and you're dependent on it for 40 years, so it's a very risky way of handling our power."

Coxworth says the society is fine with Bruce Power conducting a feasibility study as long as it takes into account all factors, including nuclear waste. Saskatchewan residents, she said, need a say in the company's final decision.
"It's not a decision for Bruce Power primarily, it's a decision for Saskatchewan to decide how we want to handle our energy demand," she said.

Others are pleased to see private companies interested in Saskatchewan's energy needs. On Monday, Cheveldayoff announced a request for proposals from private companies wanting to add to the provincial power grid. Greater Saskatoon Chamber of Commerce executive director Kent Smith-Windsor believes up to 90 per cent of his organization's management would support nuclear energy in the province.

Bruce Power's study is being welcomed by Saskatoon's Cameco Corp., the world's largest uranium producer and 31.6 per cent owner of the nuclear energy company. Cameco's president and CEO Gerry Grandey has long touted the benefits of nuclear energy, said company spokesman Gord Struthers.

Bruce Power operates six reactor units and is in the process of restarting two more at its Bruce A generating station, all of which are located at its facility about 250 kilometres northwest of Toronto.

The company, Canada's only private nuclear energy generator, plans to begin its Saskatchewan feasibility study this summer.

© The Leader-Post (Regina) 2008

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