SaskPower announced it has reached another significant milestone for its small modular reactor (SMR) project. They have narrowed the search for a potential site down to two near the City of Estevan — one at Boundary Dam and the other on the Rafferty Reservoir. After more detailed investigation, final site selection will be made in early 2025.

“In addition to the technical suitability of the sites, the Estevan region offers many benefits, including proximity to the City of Estevan to access existing services, a skilled workforce, accommodations and emergency services, as well as infrastructure, roads and transmission,” said Rupen Pandya, SaskPower president and CEO. “Selecting a site for the first SMR facility will allow us to proceed with the many regulatory processes which are site-specific and critical to the project moving forward.”

The Elbow region remains an attractive option for the development of nuclear power. SaskPower will continue to seek land options and work with Rightsholder and communities in the area even while narrowing its focus on the Estevan sites.

SaskPower has been engaging with Rightsholder, municipal leaders and community members in the Estevan and Elbow regions for some time. In December 2023, it started discussions with landowners to secure land options on two quarter-sections of land (320 acres) to host a facility that could house up to 2 GE-Hitachi BWRX-300 reactors, as well as the cooling water infrastructure. Options have been secured for the Rafferty and Boundary sites in the Estevan region.

There are several years of project development, licensing and regulatory work required to support SaskPower’s final investment decision in 2029. They are preparing to submit the Initial Project Description to the Impact Assessment Agency of Canada in early 2025. This submission will formally start the Impact Assessment process to obtain three licences:

  • a licence to prepare a site
  • a construction licence
  • an operating licence
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Once a decision to proceed has been approved, SaskPower intends to build the first 315-megawatt reactor by 2034, with another to potentially follow shortly after at the same facility. With these approvals in place, construction of the first SMR will begin in 2030 and is expected to be complete in 2034.

Featured image: GE-Hitachi BWRX-300 small modular reactor. (OPG)

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